- With more students carrying unlimited internet access in their own pockets, District Administration reports more schools are abandoning "lock and block" policies to give students more online freedom — though that freedom must be balanced with digital citizenship lessons around acting safely, empathetically and legally online, according to Manhattan Public Schools (KS) Technical Director Mike Ribble, author of "Digital Citizenship in Schools" and "Raising a Digital Child."
- Ribble says that while digital mastery is in demand in the workforce, schools must also produce students who know how to disconnect from devices, and "Digital Citizenship: A Community Based Approach" author Susan Bearden adds that going from telling students they can't do something to telling them how to do something productively can be a more effective means to getting students to use the filter "between their ears."
- This approach has been adopted at Ohio's Tolles Career & Technical Center, a public high school serving juniors and seniors, where students are given an iPad with access to non-curricular services like Netflix, Twitter and Facebook. They are told that such services aren't blocked in the real world, but they must learn how to prioritize time management when it comes to work and entertainment.
Schools and districts today have had to contend with a student body that is generally more tech-savvy than previous generations. This was perhaps best demonstrated during Los Angeles Unified School District's iPad rollout, when students figured out how to delete security and filter settings on their devices.
These issues, alongside the rise of cyberbullying and fake news, as well as the reality that most students now carry their own smartphone that aren't subject to a school filter's limitations, has bred an increased focus on the importance of digital citizenship lessons. For example, soft skills like empathy are now emphasized to hinder cyberbullying, while critical thinking has now grown to include the ability to discern between the truth and satire or malicious falsehoods online.
The extension of these lessons to include self-management of activities is a logical one, aiming to produce students who can take responsibility for their actions and recognize what is essentially a cost-benefit analysis of "If I do this instead of this, this is how it will affect me." Whether they're planning for college or the workforce, it's a valuable lesson for any student to receive.