Teaching Digital Citizenship in the 1:1 Classroom
posted by: Larisa | July 20, 2012, 05:00 AM   

There are many benefits to having students in a “one-to-one” classroom, where each student has access whenever needed to an Internet-connected device.  One-to-one classrooms can differ both with regard to the tools they use and the manner in which those tools are employed.  Some 1:1 classrooms, for example, have a class set of iPads at their disposal; others use laptops, netbooks, or tablet computers.  In every case, however, the key to a 1:1 classroom is that the tech devices being used are not shared with other classrooms (as is the case with a computer lab or a laptop cart that rotates from classroom to classroom) – instead, the teacher and students know that they will be able to access the devices whenever needed.

In that type of 1:1 environment, content delivery can become much more individualized, class offerings can be expanded through such technology, students’ tasks can become much more creative, and so on.  One of the most important opportunities that access to 1:1 technology offers, however, is the chance to help students become active, connected, and civil digital citizens.

Responsible digital citizenship is a worthy goal for all students, whether they have access to 1:1 technology or not.  Students in 1:1 environments, however, can more easily and consistently be given the opportunity to practice becoming an engaged citizen in not only their local community but their country and the world at large.

In an era where our political climate is extremely toxic, even a local newspaper’s online columns are usually devoid of high-quality debate.  What an incredible opportunity for relevant practice - our students could be asked to comment on those sorts of stories, raising the level of debate found there.  Teaching our students how to engage in thoughtful civil discourse is crucial, and there’s no better or more relevant place to do that than online, where the participants can consist of far more individuals (with far more widely differing viewpoints) than just the students in the room.

Digital safety is another important component of responsible digital citizenship.  Again, this is important for all students, but students in a 1:1 classroom will have the opportunity not only to learn about staying safe while online; they’ll also get the chance to actually practice it much more frequently while in the presence of a teacher.  Students also need to be explicitly taught about the importance of their digital footprint and to begin creating a positive one by the time they are in high school, if not sooner.

If we want our current students to be civil and productive digital citizens, we must explicitly and intentionally teach those skills, and there’s no better place to do that than in a 1:1 classroom.

About the Author:

Mark Pullen has been an elementary teacher for 13 years, currently teaching third grade in East Grand Rapids, MI. He’s an advocate for classroom technology integration, and writes extensively on that subject on behalf of Worth Ave Group, a leading provider of laptop, tablet computer, and iPad insurance for schools and universities: http://www.worthavegroup.com/education.
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