Tag Archives: Digital Citizenship

Teaching Digital Responsibility in the Age of Online Hate

Last week the New York Times published the article, On Instagram, 11,696 Examples of How Hate Thrives on Social Media (NYT 10.29.18) three days after the mass shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA. This article highlights social media companies attention to or lack there of “treatment of toxic language and hate speech” on their platforms. Interestingly, “Social media companies have said that identifying and removing hate speech and disinformation — or even defining what constitutes such content — is difficult.”

The past three weeks I have been dealing with my own ordeal of hate speech and false representation on Twitter. After five years and 40 twitter book chats with my students, three weeks ago I moderated a Twitter book chat and an ambiguous avatar joined the chat sending funny pictures and memes. When they did not identify themselves I blocked the account. That did not stop my students participating in the chat from seeing the stream of continuous  tweets from this person. If fact, the images and tweets escalated to spread hate speech, anti Semitic photographs and sexist and anti gay memes. The person’s tweets were directed at myself and a student of mine. I reported the tweets to Twitter and within a day the racist, antisemitic, homophobic, and sexist tweets were removed and the account was suspended. But that did not stop this person.

The next day a new account was created by this same person and they used my image as their Avatar. The name of the Twitter handle referenced a Nazi program, Nacht und Nebel (German for “Night and Fog”). This directive issued by Hitler targeted political activists and resistance “helpers” in World War II to be imprisoned or killed. The person sent tweets to me telling me to die and making derogatory statements. When I reported the tweets to Twitter my reports were denied telling me that this was not a threat. The tweets escalated over ten days and the person tweeted in binary code, hex64, and other code threats to me and students of mine. All the tweets were reported to Twitter but Twitter did not consider it a threat or hate speech written in code!

I contacted the FBI, I filed police reports, the DA was involved.

It took legal action to get the IP address which was connected to a residence in the town where I teach. This residence has a young person who is a student in my school, he is not a student in my class. The family is cooperating with the police and the school;  additionally, the family has agreed to get counseling for their son. Since the police approached the family my image has been removed and all the tweets have been taken down.

My principal sent the following message out to our community:

Dear Parents,

We at XXXXX Middle School pride ourselves as educators who not only attend to the academic needs of our students but who also focus on their social and emotional needs.  We share your challenge in teaching these young adolescents how to judiciously and ethically use contemporary technology as moral citizens of the school community and ultimately the world.

Dr. Haiken, Team 8R ELA teacher, has been using Twitter for the past six years. With the consent of parents, she and her students tweet about the books they read, creating a sort of twenty-first century book club.  Unfortunately, someone has used this account to insert horrible, racist, sexist, and homophobic remarks, some directed at one of our students.  We are investigating this and are making every possible effort to discover who the troll is.  The police and Twitter administrators have been notified.  A full investigation is being conducted and appropriate consequences will be implemented.

We are having discussions with our students about the deeper issues involved, and we need your help. As we partner to help our young people grow into empathetic, responsible adults, we need you to have follow-up conversations at home not only about social media but also about how we treat those who might be a little different from the mainstream. 

Bullies hide behind the anonymity of social media.  All children regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or beliefs deserve a safe and healthy environment in which to thrive and learn. Please help us deliver this message at home.

These events impacted by teaching and the educational environment. It saddens me that this person who has digital smarts chose to use them for evil and spread hate.  In the meanwhile, I think about what are the best ways to promote positive digital citizenship and responsibility so that my students make smart choices online and not become a victim or perpetrator of hate online.

Recently, The Wall Street Journal published a video:

Two educators talk about teaching students to think critically and keeping personal politics out of the classroom.

I concur with the two teachers in the video when they talk about teaching empathy and modeling positive (digital) behavior.

Digital Citizenship is an ongoing lesson that needs to be addressed every year with every student. Social media is not going away, and blocking websites in schools or telling students they cannot use phones is not a realistic solution. These events have helped me to look more closely at the role that social media plays in our lives and how I can promote positive digital behavior in my classroom so all of my students use their digital powers for good.

Below are five resources to teach digital responsibility and citizenship:

Wicked EdTech – Here you can find a video playlist on Digital Literacy

Google Applied Digital Skills  – Ready-to-use video lessons teach digital
skills that have immediate, real-life application.

Be Internet Awesome – Google’s Digital Safety Resources for the
classroom and home.

Common Sense Media Digital Citizenship – Empower your students to
make safe, smart, and ethical decisions online.

ISTE Digital Citizenship – Here you can find articles and resources connected to digital
citizenship in schools.

 

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Media Literacy in Action: Teaching Critical Thinking and Digital Citizenship

This Friday I will be presenting at the Media Literacy Research Symposium at Fairfield University’s Dolan Business School. Below is a summary of my presentation and resources for teaching media literacy and digital citizenship.

Media literacy entails being able to read, review, reflect, and react to all media, both print and electronic. Today’s information and entertainment technologies communicate to us through a powerful combination of words, images, and sounds. Being literate in a media age requires critical thinking skills that empower us as we make decisions, whether in the classroom, living room, the workplace, or the voting booth.

Media Savvy Kids was designed to expand the notion of literacy to include the ability to read, analyze, evaluate, and produce communications in a variety of media texts. Throughout the elective, students have the opportunity to examine how mass media is constructed and produced, and discuss how mass media shapes our understanding of the world. The elective focuses on all aspects of the media including movies, television, song lyrics, the print media, and due to the predominance of digital media, the internet and social media.

Media Literacy is essential in our globally digital world. Students are spending more and more time accessing, utilizing,and contributing to media through their mobile devices, tablets, and computers. Schools need to address media literacy across the content area in order to support students and address the Common Core Learning Standards alongside the International Society Technology Standards. If students are to positively participate in our digital and global society, media literacy is as necessary as reading, writing, speaking, listening, and critical thinking.

Global collaborative projects lend themselves to poignant conversations about digital citizenship. The purpose of the global collaborative project is to educate and promote responsible online choices as well as immersing students in an online educational community for learning and collaboration. Students collaborate researching and writing a report using a wiki and create a school-based action project that is documented on the wiki.

In our technologically advanced world today, digital citizenship can mean a lot of things. Students need to engage in conversations around these topics so they can make good decisions as digital citizens when it comes to etiquette and respect, responsibility and safety.

 

Additional Resources for Media Literacy & Digital Citizenship:

Media Education Foundation

Project LookSharp (Ithaca College)

AdBusters

New Mexico Literacy Project

Listen Up: Youth Media Network (PBS)

Paley Center for Media (NYC)

Museum for the Moving Image

Media Smarts (Formerly the Media Awareness Network)

Common Sense Media

Google Digital Literacy & Citizenship Curriculum

Flat Connections Global Projects

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Comments, Compliments, & Digital Citizenship

Teaching digital citizenship is not easy.  Although our students use social media daily, how are they using social media and is it in a way that is respectful to others.  I say this because as my students engage in a global collaborative project about digital citizenship, I am learning that young people need many, many models of what responsible and respectful digital citizenship looks like.

For our global collaborative project, students are using Edmodo to introduce themselves to one another and share research and ideas before working together in small groups to write a research report on a Wiki.  For the first assignment students were to create a video, blog post, or Voki to introduce themselves to the group.  After students uploaded their handshake assignment onto Edmodo, students could view each other’s posts and leave comments.  Here is a screenshot of many of the types of comments that I saw from students.

Image

This then led to a lesson on how to comment on each other’s blogs and posts.  I asked that student comments need to fulfill the following criteria: (1) Be positive and no put downs, (2) Be specific, (3) Find something to connect to, (4) Ask a question, (5) No chat or text lingo.

I realized that students do not really know how to sincerely complement each other.  When I would see or hear students complimenting each other it seemed superficial and on a surface level, “I like your sweater” or “Those are cool kicks.”  I was inspired by the video below and spent this week teaching and talking about sincere compliments to help building community and comradery in my classroom.

In middle school it is often challenging to teach sincere compliments and expect 100% full participation and practice. As much as teachers and adults model this, I still see students being mean to one another in the cafeteria and sometimes in the hallways in between classes.  My students are quick to judge one another. I have often interjected when I heard one student put another student down and the first response was, “I was just joking. He is my friend.”  My response was, “When was the last time you two hung out together?  Is he one of the contacts in your phone? Can I see.”

Schools spend lots of money on anti-bullying curriculum and assemblies and students are tired of hearing the anti-bullying messages. Yet, bullying is still going on in and outside of school. We see it in the media and in popular movies. The question is what is going to work to help make our culture more understanding and sensitive to people’s differences.  This is a challenge I face everyday.  If you have any ideas or if you are doing is working please share your ideas.

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Digital Citizenship Through the Lens of Social Awareness

This fall my students are participating in the Flat Classroom Digitween Project, one of many global collaborative project founded by Julie Lindsay and Vickie Davis. Students around the world participating in the project study and explore digital citizenship and how to be responsible and reliable online learners. The purpose of the project is to educate and promote responsible online choices as well as immersing students in an online educational community for learning and collaboration. Students collaborate researching and writing a report using a wiki and create a school-based action project that is documented on the wiki.

In our technologically advanced world today, digital citizenship can mean a lot of things. The project is organized according to the five areas of awareness that relate to being a digital citizen: technology, individual, social, cultural, and global.

To help introduce the five areas of awareness to my students I showed my students the two videos “I Forgot My Phone” and “Emma, Le Trefle.” Both videos are funny that make big statements. Many argue face-to-face society is being impacted negatively by technology causing inattentiveness of people to their own families and friends. Cell phones interrupt movies, celebrations, social events, and often become intrusive. This aspect of digital citizenship falls under Social Awareness.

After viewing and discussing the two videos in class I asked my students to create a code of conduct for cell phone use in public places. This was not an easy task. Students debated whether talking on the phone and texting was appropriate at the dinner table and shared other stories about award experiences with cell phones. It was a lively discussion.

Students need to engage in conversations like these so they can make good decisions as digital citizens when it comes to etiquette and respect, responsibility and safety.

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Lesson Plans for Setting Up a Global Project

This year I eagerly applied to participate, with my students, in one of the Flat Classroom Global Projects created by Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis.  The project is a model for digital citizenship and allows my students to collaborate and create with students around the globe.

The NetGenEd Project uses the 2013 Horizon Report and mashes up the technology trends as described in the Horizon Report with the Net Generation norms as described in Don Tapscott’s book Grown Up Digital.  The final product created by the students includes a collaboratively written wiki that shows what students will be doing with the technologies that will characterize their educational experiences over the next five to ten years.  And, in addition, students will also create a multimedia version of what they think it will look like in practice.

My students are currently in the midst or researching and writing on the wiki.  It took me about a week to set up and introduce the project to my students.  The project typically runs for about 8-10 weeks.  Below are my introductory lessons for the first week setting up the project.  I have also included the rubric that I created for my students to evaluate their collaborative Wiki report.  For my students, I am having them create a Symbaloo or Thinglink to visually display their works cited and additional resources.

Day One  – Digital Citizenship

Day Two & Three – Finding Reliable Information Online

Day Four – NetGenEd Lesson Plan 2013

Day Five – Net Gen Norms

Flatclassroom Project Rubric

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