Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Technology Update: Digital Citizenship - Must do's, Should do's, and the Can do's and the Why - 11/29/16

Before sharing the new digital citizenship resources that Melissa Oliver, Coordinator of Instructional Technology, put together last week, I wanted to start with why digital citizenship is so important for our students and staff.  A digital citizen is “a person who develops the skills and knowledge to effectively use the Internet and other digital technology, especially to participate responsibly in social and civic activities”.  As educators, we have a responsibility to teach the skills and knowledge to develop digital citizenship critical to the success of our during their time in Washington Unified and beyond. We’ve instituted several measures regarding our G Suite (formerly Google Apps for Education – GAFE) environment that protects our students they continuously develop their digital citizenship.  One of these measures is what is called a “walled garden” in the Google world. What this means is that all WUSD students can only email or share Google Drive files with other students, teachers, administrators, or staff within the district. We have also turned off access for students to access personal Gmail accounts.

As part of our Google environment, the Technology Department uses a service called Cloudlock to monitor all G Suite emails and files. When there is inappropriate language or other triggers (for example, credit card numbers or social security numbers), we receive an email from Cloudlock alerting us to take a look at what might have triggered a notification. We have discovered students are using the school mail system in G Suite to communicate with other students in ways that do not meet our standards of digital citizenship. When we see this happening, the information from the email or Google files (sometimes they do this with a Google Doc) are shared with the school site’s Assistant Principal to follow up with the students involved. In severe cases, we will intervene immediately. The content that we see through Cloudlock demonstrates that digital citizenship continues to be an area of need and educating students on appropriate online behavior must be a focus.

Digital Citizenship Resources
The new WUSD Digital Citizenship website was created to provide teachers with quick access to the Common Sense Media lessons on digital citizenship. It includes the Scope and Sequence created by DTAC and has the lessons that must be taught at each grade level to comply with the Internet safety mandate tied to E-Rate funding.  In addition, the site includes other lessons from Common Sense Media that you should do with your students as well as those the you can do.  If everyone taught the lessons for their grade level, our students would be much better prepared for the digital world becoming more and  more a part of their lives.  Once you’ve completed the “Must Do” lesson, complete the online form certifying that you have done so.  The form is still under development for some grade levels, so you may need to check back later to complete it.  

Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media is the curriculum selected to teach our students about Digital Citizenship. It is a free site that requires teachers to create an account in order to download the materials. The lessons also include information that can be sent home to families about the topics discussed in class. Most lessons do not require technology, so access to devices should not be a barrier for classrooms. Use these lessons to become a Common Sense Media Certified Educator like Sally De La Mora and Penny Schatzel from Southport did last year!

 As students learn how to become better digital citizens, they will make mistakes which is expected. The key, though, is to learn from these mistakes and make better choices and decisions going forward. We have a responsibility to help our students be better citizens online and we’ve provided some amazing resources to start these conversations through the new WUSD Digital Citizenship website.

As always, please let me know if you have any questions,

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