ReBrand Digital Citizenship – Get Ignited! 4

On June 28, 2014 I had the opportunity to “Ignite” the audience  during the opening of ISTE in the first round of Ignite sessions. An “Ignite” session is a fast paced (five minutes, twenty slides – changing every fifteen seconds) session.

If you missed my session here is my message (with corresponding slides):

It definitely takes a village to write an Ignite. A special thank you to Kim Meldrum, Ken Shelton, Holly Clark and Douglas Kiang. Read more here to see how they helped me along the way!


Rebranding Digital Citizenship Ignite Transcript

Does this look familiar? The infamous one hour digital citizenship presentation with all your students crammed into the auditorium?
I call this the vaccination approach to teaching digital citizenship.


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Here you go! shot in the arm, be safe, make good decisions online!

You would think I had my Medical Degree with all the vaccinations I’ve given!

I have to be honest and say that I really do not think that my vaccination approach to digital citizenship was always effective.

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I used to think that it was about teaching my students how to use technology politely.

However my approach has changed because I realize what the reality of our students’ futures are and will be.

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Cause let’s face it the paper resume is dead.

Our students resumes, their digital footprints,  will be their Twitter account, their YouTube channel, their blogs, their digital portfolio and whatever tools are created today!


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The social media sites they use will dominate their names.  What will we find when we search them? Will it be examples of positive digital citizens?Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 10.05.04 AM

Will it be it be their creations or will it be some negative, gossipy comments that someone else posted about them?

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or, even worse, will we find nothing at all?

It is our responsibility to help our students who are constantly developing – create a persona for an ever changing audience.

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The teaching of digital citizenship must be an integral part of our daily practices.

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When I went into schools to deliver my vaccinations, unless the teachers changed their teaching practices  to include opportunities for their students to be actively engaged online

I am sure for the most part my messages were lost.

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There is an urgency to rethink what digital citizenship truly involves

So what must digital citizenship –  rebranded  – look like?

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1. Instead of providing policies and rules for appropriate use of technology for the parents to sign,


Why not  have our students create their own acceptable use guidelines.

This makes it authentic and gives them ownership and accountability.
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2. Instead of blocking our students from using social media in class,

why not teach our students how to use social media in class as part of their daily learning?

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Why not get  them to tweet with other classes across the world! What better way for them to learn as citizens about the world outside of the four walls of their classroom?

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3. Instead of having them write formal essays -teach them how to blog, teach them how to respond to blogs, how to write  thoughtful comments that will reinforce and assist other learners,  to give creative criticism, heck, teach them how to write a persuasive email! I know I write way too many of those each day!

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You cannot teach digital citizenship in isolation.  Going onto a website and having students stamp a digital passport does not cut it!

It can no longer be one day out of the year attending an assembly for their vaccination.

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It is not an add on to your curriculum,

it is how you teach!

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Our students need to see that their learning has purpose.

They need to be creating.

They need to be connecting.

They need to be learn how to harness the power of social media and

They need to learn the importance of owning their digital identities.

It is our responsibility as educators to get them creating so that they have the learning opportunities to become connected citizens.


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We need to rebrand digital citizenship as citizenship itself, without the distinction of being digital.  

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We need to teach our students how to cultivate and participate in caring communities as citizens of a connected world

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