As we begin using more digital tools in our classrooms, it is important to remember the regulations put into place to protect young learners. While we may get excited about a new tool or app, we must abide by laws such as COPPA (Children's Online Privacy Protection Act) and CIPA (Children's Internet Protection Act) that are meant to protect our students. As outdated as they may seem at this time, they are the laws that guide our instructional use of digital tools in the classroom.
I've created the graphic above to guide our teachers in using various social media platforms with students. Even if we might know students are using these, we will want to be mindful of these age requirements and not encourage the use of social media platforms that fall above the age of the students we teach. By doing this, we are modeling good digital citizenship for our students.
On a related note, have you found the perfect digital tool or app for your class, only to realize you can't use it due to student information being requested? Although it might be tempting to find a "fix around" to use it, it is recommended that you model digital citizenship by going through the proper process to ensure student safety. Most districts have a process in place, so check with your Technology department or Curriculum & Instruction department if you are unsure of the process.
In our district, our Technology Department works with the Curriculum & Instruction department to determine appropriate digital tools and when to obtain parent permission.
When a tool is requested for use in the classroom, teachers complete a form with pertinent information. The Technology Department first analyzes the digital tool to see if it complies with COPPA & CIPA. If the instructional purpose is in question, the request is sent to Curriculum & Instruction for additional vetting. Regardless of the tool, it will be important to get parent permission before using programs that require any type of student information such as NAME, AGE, GRADE, SCHOOL, etc. for your students who are younger than 13.
Modeling digital citizenship will require open conversations with our students and their families and more than just a one time lesson. Using the ISTE Student Standards as a guide, we know that Digital Citizen is a life skill. We must teach our students to be aware of data collection and digital privacy, and modeling this with the tools we use is one way we can do that.
In Weatherford ISD, we have access to Atomic Learning, which has modules on digital citizenship such as "What Do Students Need to Know About Internet Safety and Digital Citizenship?" These modules can be accessed by both teachers and students and will help reinforce the conversations that are taking place throughout the year on being good digital citizens.
We will be talking more about Digital Citizenship and using digital tools in our classroom instruction in the future. A site I will be visiting more is my friend Nancy Watson's site CLICK which focuses on Digital Literacy through student created tech tips. There is a section devoted to Digital Citizenship, which student created videos & screencasts.
What tips do you have to ensure your students become good digital citizens?