Monday, July 18, 2016

Teaching Digital Citizenship with Google Classroom

As the beginning of a new school year approaches, teachers begin to think about introducing the norms & rules of their classroom to a new group of students. Included in these classroom behaviors, are the expectations for technology usage.

Digital Citizenship has become a popular term in recent years both inside and outside of the classroom. Frankly, it isn't only our students that need to work on Digital Citizenship skills, but many adults as well. Our devices and connectivity allow us to easily make comments and share posts with others. This can be a great way for us to learn and connect with others. Unfortunately, this also leads to negativity, hurtful comments, and unsolicited opinions to be spewed over Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and so on.

How do we teach a new generation how to behave in digital spaces, when many students, parents, and other adults, don't necessarily behave themselves? Google Classroom and other Learning Management Systems (LMS) can give us that opportunity.

Google Classroom gives teachers the ability to control who can post and make comments to the "classroom stream." A great filter for teachers to be able to utilize as students begin to understand how to use the digital space.

However, only allowing the teacher to post and comment at all times can be detrimental. The less students are able to interact with the digital space, the less the students will be motivated to use it. More importantly, filtering their behavior for them will not give them the learning experience they need to build in their own filters.

Teachers must give some opportunities for students to post and make comments in the digital space. This will allow students to begin to use learning and social networks responsibly. Google Classroom allows teachers to model appropriate online behaviors for students as well as give students a safe digital space for them to try these behaviors out for themselves.

Here are some posting examples:

In both of these announcements to the class stream, the students are asked to participate in the commenting section. These are simple opportunites that the students have to have meaningful interactions within the digital space. The class is closed to only specific students to give them a safe place to interact. As the school year progresses, the teacher can allow students to create their own posts of videos, articles, or presentations to the class stream for discussion.

As stated, if a teacher never gives these opportunities, then the students will miss out on the complete experience that a LMS provides. They will also miss out on the understanding that any social network can lead to learning opportunities.

While we are all teachers of our content areas, we must prepare our students to succeed outside of the classroom. We need to give them the opportunity to interact with others through a digital space, and learn the concepts of Digital Citizenship. Google Classroom and other LMSs naturally lead to those opportunities.