Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Digital Citizenship in the Learning Commons

This year in our school, we have opened up the world of collaboration and communication to our students. What an exciting time it has been. In 4 short months we have initiated 340+ student Gmail and #GAFE (Google Apps For Education) accounts from grades 3-5. It has been a huge task to get passwords changed, model the log in process and learn how to work in this new collaborative environment. Our students have not used email before at school so we have found this to be a huge learning curve as well.

Being so new and exciting, the introduction to the new student Gmail accounts has been relatively easy. We have found our students (for the most part) are so willing to try it our and experiment with using email. They seem so eager to communicate through email.

This eagerness and willingness to experiment has also brought along a new set of challenges. All of a sudden, some students were feeling a lot 'safer' behind the screen of their computer. With this apparent safety, came a few inappropriate emails that were sent to various students. This lack of sensible choices brought up some excellent opportunities to discuss the appropriate uses for email.

I personally believe some of our students really didn't understand how email works and what the consequences of inappropriate choices might be, for all parties. Through a few hard lessons, and continued discussions, I think we are getting somewhere with learning to use email in a positive way. It really is amazing to see students so excited to communicate with each other in another format.

As a staff we have also begun discussions about the need to including digital citizenship (DC) in our assessment practices. It all projects that happen in our learning commons, aspects of DC will always be woven into the learning and assessment that goes with that learning. We need to teach our students the importance of thinking about our behaviour when working online.

In our learning commons and school we are also promoting being a positive online citizen. After discussing this in our last staff meeting, a colleague, and fellow New Zealander, Richard Wells (@ipadwells on twitter) shared posted some posters that he created and posted on his blog. The post can be found here. He also shares the individual posters here.

The positive wall display in our Learning Commons