Although I have used computers and web based technology and resources with students for many years now, this was the first year I had access to a class set of netbooks on a daily basis. In the past, students shared the computers and laptops available in the classroom, used the Promethean board for interactive learning, or visited the computer lab whenever the timetable permitted. This year, I had 29 grade 5 students all using netbooks on a regular basis. Sounds great, right? Well it was….eventually.
In September, I was so excited to venture into the world of one-to-one computing, dreaming about the things we would do together. I was ready to jump in with both feet! Not only was I excited, but the students were too. However, once all students had netbooks on their desks, it became very apparent how little many of them had used computers. Most of my students used computers to play games or for word processing, never really venturing into cloud based tools like Google Apps or even using the internet for information and resources. In my eagerness to get started on all the curriculum-based activities I had planned throughout the summer, I made the assumption that my students could jump right in. However, Digital Natives are not necessarily digitally savvy. It was important for me to slow down, and not only teach my students how to use web based applications and resources appropriately, but also how to be safe online, and digitally responsible.
As educators increasingly integrate technology and web based resources in the classroom, it is important to explicitly teach our young students digital responsibility. Before students are assigned to web based activities and assignments, it is imperative that they learn what it means to be responsible digital citizens. Students need to be aware of the digital footprint left behind each and every time they share images and information online. The resources posted below and the video found at the top of the page are beneficial in helping junior students understand their impact online, as well as how to critically evaluate web based resources and media. My students were able to move from users of technology to online participants and collaborators. These are the resources that helped me support my students as they learned how to become digital citizens in an ever-changing, participatory space.