Thursday, September 19, 2013

From First Steps to Digital Footprints: Developing Digital Citizenship in Our Youngest Learners

 Most children enter kindergarten as technology users, but their knowledge of how to use it safely and appropriately varies as widely as their abilities to print their names and tie their shoes. As their first teachers, it is unquestioningly our duty to develop digital citizenship alongside scissor skills and sharing.
Collaborative, project-based learning experiences provide many authentic opportunities for students to acquire and practice digital citizenship skills that will see them safely into adulthood as they begin to develop and manage their first digital footprints. In Manitoba, we have a Literacy with ICT Developmental Continuum that fosters critical and creative thinking skills as students learn to use ICT safely and responsibly. How does this actually look in kindergarten?

We can use technology to share our learning with others and learn from others. Skype in the Classroom connected us with a classroom in New Jersey when we were learning about frogs. For more information, check out these blog posts: Frogs     Skype in Kindergarten

We can self-regulate as we use technology. Modeling and guided practice goes into growing self-regulating learners in kindergarten. We practice how to behave in front of the web cam, posing thoughtful questions that no one has asked yet, and thinking about what we know and want to learn.

We can use technology safely and responsibly. We used Twitter in kindergarten to challenge other classrooms and share results in our litterless lunch competitions. Students gained experience in what information is appropriate and safe to share as well as password security.

We need permission to use someone else’s music, images, and ideas. We frequently make movies to share and celebrate our learning. We understand that we can’t use popular songs off the radio in our soundtrack. Tools such as Songsmith are a copyright-free way to generate our own music.

These simple understandings provide a strong foundation for digital citizenship. Regardless of the students’ age, it’s never too early or late to begin. There’s no doubt that digital citizenship is the 21st century version of “plays well with others” and our students’ future success will depend on it.

*Originally written for Partners in Learning Network Hot Topics, September 18, 2013. View the original post here.

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