How to Celebrate Digital Citizenship Week 2020
With technology at their fingertips 24/7, it’s more important than ever to ensure your students are behaving appropriately in the digital world.
But finding a way to incorporate these topics into your existing syllabus can be tough — especially if your courses don’t specifically require you to teach them.
That’s where Digital Citizenship Week comes in!
Every year, the third week of October is dedicated to teaching good digital citizenship in hopes that all students will become safe and smart when using technology.
So how can you take advantage of this yearly push to teach your students to become good digital citizens?
In this post, we’ll give you a full week’s worth of ideas for celebrating Digital Citizenship Week 2020!
Monday: An Introduction to Digital Citizenship
There’s no better way to start out Digital Citizenship Week in your classroom than to introduce your students to digital citizenship!
Good digital citizenship is focused on using responsible, respectful, and ethical behavior when using technology.
For your introductory lesson, you’ll need to do a bit of work up front.
Write up a few scenarios that involve someone making decisions when using technology. You should include scenarios that show both good and bad digital citizenship choices.
Some example scenarios to get you started include:
- Doing online research without fact-checking (bad)
- Posting a rude social media update about a classmate (bad)
- Not opening a suspicious-looking email (good)
- Reporting cyberbullying to parents or teachers (good)
Read each scenario and ask your students questions about whether someone has made a good or bad choice. Ask them to explain their answers to spur discussion and get thinking about what makes good digital citizenship.
Now that your students have an idea about what digital citizenship means, it’s time to get to the good stuff!
Refer back to each scenario that was identified as having a poor decision. For each one, go into some details about how that bad decision will impact that person in the future.
For example, if someone takes part in cyberbullying, it could impact their abilities to get accepted to a school or even getting hired for a job!
What it really comes down to is that any misstep can be detrimental when your students are applying to colleges or job openings - and even staying in the job after being hired.
Ultimately, being a good digital citizen is a must, and this lesson will help your students realize that!
Tuesday: Understanding Digital Footprints
Tuesday, you can get more into the details of digital citizenship — specifically digital footprints.
A digital footprint is essentially all of the information a person actively and passively shares about themselves online.
Start your lesson with an overview of a digital footprint. Then give some examples of what makes up a digital footprint, including:
- Browsing history
- Photos they post
- Social media status updates
- Emails they send
- Ads they click
You could even leverage this lesson from Common Sense Education, which has a video you can show to your class: Trillion Dollar Footprint
After you’ve gone over the details of what assets make up a digital footprint, it’s time for an activity!
Before class, download and print this digital footprint handout to hand out to each student.
As you pass the papers out, instruct your students to draw or write common websites and social apps they visit. Give your students a decent amount of time to gather their thoughts and get everything on the page.
Once they are done, hang the sheets on a wall in your classroom. Have students reflect on any common trends they see among their classmates when all of the pages are up.
Overall, this lesson will provide an eye-opening experience to your students. They will be more conscious of their actions moving forward so they can maintain a positive digital footprint in the future!
Need to do this activity virtually?
If you're teaching in a hybrid or remote classroom situation this year, you can easily adapt this lesson for your students to complete at home.
Instead of giving students a paper footprint, ask them to create a collage using a digital tool such as Google Slides or Canvas.
Then they can share their finished work with you via your learning management system.
Wednesday: Information Literacy
With the 24/7 influx of information and disinformation out there, include a lesson on information literacy.
With print media, it’s fairly easy to spot a good source of information. But when looking at websites and social media, it can be tricky to know what’s real.
There are many resources out there to teach information literacy, but not all of them are age-appropriate. For middle and high school students, we recommend these four options:
- The New York Times
- News Literacy Project
- S.O.S. for Information Literacy
- Common Sense Education
Depending on how you want to tackle this topic, you’ll find one of these options may work better for you than another.
Once you have the sources you want to reference, you can either find some lesson plan ideas online or come up with your own.
Regardless of what you choose, the point of information literacy is to ensure your students can tell real information from disinformation.
This will also lay the foundation for your digital citizenship week activity on Thursday!
Thursday: The Basics of Internet Safety
Similarly to information literacy, it’s important to talk about Internet safety.
On the surface, being smart and safe when using the Internet seems pretty simple. But students who don’t know any better can fall for online scams, click unsafe links, and use easy-to-crack passwords.
Not knowing how to stay safe online can be a big problem, so it’s important to teach the basics now!
Start this lesson by asking your students a few questions to spur discussion:
- Have you have ever received an email from someone you don’t know?
- What about getting a friend request from someone you’ve never met?
- What did you do, and how do you know the person was telling the truth?
Let that act as a springboard into why it’s important to be on guard when using the Internet.
Encourage students to share other times they’ve run into something that doesn’t seem quite right when on social media, sketchy websites, or their email.
Then, transition to talking about some key points of Internet safety, including:
- Verifying someone’s identity
- Verifying a link is safe
- Using strong passwords
- Identifying an online scam
Give your students tips to stay safe as you discuss each point. This is important because your students need more information than just knowing what to look out for.
You need to give them the tools to realize something isn’t quite right before it’s too late!
Some examples you may want to include are:
- Carefully checking URLs
- Using social network privacy settings
- Creating a strong password
Overall, you want your students to leave the classroom with more knowledge on how to keep their information private and give them the confidence to show others how to stay safe online!
Friday: Digital Communication & Cyberbullying
It’s time to wrap up Digital Citizenship Week with two final sections -- digital communication and cyberbullying.
Digital communication includes any form of communication that involves the use of technology, both for personal and professional reasons.
Cyberbullying is the means of using digital communication to harass others.
When it comes to being a good digital citizen, these are two of the most important topics for you to cover!
Part 1 — Digital Communication
At the beginning of class, start a discussion by asking students to share how they communicate by using technology. As they respond, list their answers at the front of the classroom.
It’s likely that your students will mostly give examples of personal digital communication, such as texting and social media.
Once you have some good answers, ask them how they think they will use technology to communicate in their future careers. Add any new answers to the board, and if there are repeats from before, underline those.
Last, ask your students which types of communication could negatively impact their future if used irresponsibly.
As your students respond, circle their answers. Ask them to give an example of improperly using digital communication that made them choose that option.
Once everyone has given their input, switch gears to talk about social media more in-depth. This is one part of digital communication that requires a lot of discussion — specifically in terms of cyberbullying.
Part 2 — Cyberbullying
While it’s an emotionally difficult topic, it’s important for you to include cyberbullying as part of Digital Citizenship Week.
Teaching your students how to identify, stand up against, and report cyberbullying is crucial and could be one of the most important lessons you teach all year.
There are a ton of resources out there specifically to teach this topic, but it can be tough to sort through them all.
Our favorite resources on cyberbullying are:
- Common Sense Education
No matter what resource you use to talk about cyberbullying, just make sure you discuss what constitutes cyberbullying, tips to stand up against it, and how a student can report cyberbullying to someone in your school.
If you want to go even further, you could discuss the laws and future repercussions that someone can face if they partake in cyberbullying.
Overall, you want to empower your students to stand up against cyberbullying and give them the tools to do so!
Teach Digital Citizenship Today!
Digital Citizenship Week is the perfect time to introduce these concepts to your students.
And while we've shared a ton of ideas, there's still a lot of work for you to do.
Want to teach digital citizenship without all the extra hassle?
We've got a full learning module dedicated to these crucial topics that you can try right now: