There are several different aspects to Digital Citizenship, they include keeping your data safe, protecting students identity, copyright and how we interact in online spaces. As many students and educators move to connected learning, we’re hearing that students struggle with interacting and connecting with each other in formal online spaces. This is a key skill that students will need has they go through school and eventually get a job. Below you will find five tips that will support students in building online communication skills to connect with one another and contribute to a classroom community in a positive manner.

Set norms as a class. If you started f2f and went remote, take some time to reset norms in a digital space. Interactions occur differently when not f2f. Asking students what they need to feel safe and comfortable interacting with you and others in online spaces. Setting norms sets clear expectations for students and allows them to experience how to actively contribute to an online space. Some norms to consider include:

  • how to use the chat in a live meeting,
  • how to ask a question,
  • how to respond to one another in chat or in asynchronous spaces,
  • expectations for collaboration in shared documents or projects,

Build community. In order for students to fully engage in remote learning they need to feel safe. Interacting in formal online spaces is still new for them, provide scaffolding and a variety of opportunities for them to connect. Through these opportunities students will experience being an active part of a community, just as they would f2f. This might look like:

  • Including a quick ice breaker at the beginning of a meeting that gives them a chance to share about them personally. Keeping them easy to answer and not too personal. Providing clear instructions for how they can respond to each to other, either in chat or using a gesture over video.
  • Providing opportunities for them to collaborate together in real time, starting small and with very clear expectations. One of my favorite ways to collaborate on a live meeting is through a Google Doc, sharing it with participants so that everyone can edit, we either answer a question, share observations or build a collaborative resource.
  • Giving students responsibilities to contribute the class.

Use the chat intentionally. We’ve heard many educators say they have had to turn off chat in live meetings because students were not using it appropriately. However there can be a lot of opportunities for connection when using chat, and it allows for more voices to be heard throughout the meeting. Utilizing chat can provides a chance for students to practice interacting in online spaces in an safe, monitored environment. Since this is new to students, consider starting with very specific questions and tasks. Depending on the question and the experience of the class, consider having some examples ready to go that you can copy and paste into chat. If you find students struggle with the chat completely open for the whole meeting, turn it on to practice and then turn it off, gradually leaving it open as you see they’re able to use it correctly.

Use sentence stems to scaffold. Most older students are comfortable in online spaces, however they are used to interacting in very informal ways. For younger students, interacting in online spaces might be completely new. Both might need some support with learning how to respond to prompts or to each other in online spaces. Sentence stems or sentence starters can be an effective way to scaffold interactions.

Model in all digital spaces. Be as present as you can in all online spaces, leaving comments and feedback for all students, modeling how you want your students to interact with one another. Consider asking students to share what they notice about how you interact with them in online spaces to start a conversation around how they can connect with each other.

We’d love to know, how are you integrating digital citizenship with your students? What questions do you have around digital citizenship? Let us know below!

Digital citizenship is about the norms of appropriate, responsible and ethical behavior with regard to technology. During this course, we’ll be exploring digital citizenship in the classroom, helping students understand the impacts of technology, and looking at examples of ethical, responsible, and safe technology usage. Want to dig deeper into digital citizenship? Powerful Learning Practice offers a self-paced class for just $29. Click the button to learn more below!

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Jennifer Bloomingdale

Jennifer Bloomingdale graduated from the College of St. Rose with a Bachelors in Childhood Education and a Masters in Educational Technology. She is a former classroom teacher who developed a passion for integrating technology and assisting others in doing so. Jennifer has been an eCourse facilitator at Powerful Learning Practice since 2012, where she developed and facilitated courses on using Google Apps for Education and integrating technology. Her work at PLP introduced her to the world of coaching, which has lead to her becoming a certified evocative coach and an instructional coach.

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