Citizenship in the Digital Age
by Lower School Assistant Principal Peter Sullivan
In the fall of 2014, the four assistant principals at Carolina Day School attended the annual Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS) conference in Atlanta. Matt Scully (Director of Technology at Providence Day School in Charlotte, NC), whose school was about to roll out a 1:1 iPad program, presented on the topic of digital citizenship as a necessity for any type of school.
Departing the conference, we debriefed on Matt’s presentation and how digital citizenship might fit into our community; we all felt this was an important task for the school to take on.
As a result, during the 2015-16 school year we assembled a committee to begin building a digital citizenship program that would be tailored to fit our school’s needs. Each division selected a faculty member to champion the program in the division, with the entire program overseen by Bo Attwood, chief technology coordinator at CDS.
Our committee traveled to Providence Day School in February 2016 to meet with Matt Scully and learn how to “roll out” a digital citizenship program. Matt graciously spent more than five hours with our group, walking us around campus and highlighting the aspects of their digital citizenship program. He gave us access to his digital citizenship resources and recommended many others.
Once we returned to Asheville, our committee switched into high gear to begin planning our version of a digital citizenship program. We created a common shared language about what tenets should be included in this program.
We followed the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) guidelines for creating a digital citizenship program in a school and used a digital citizenship audit to help us determine hot-button issues. These included the following:
-Using cell phones to text test answers to other students
-Using social media or messaging systems to intimidate other students
-Downloading music/video files illegally from the Internet
-Being unable to complete class projects or research activities because of a lack of access to technology
-Using technology excessively (e.g., late at night)
-Plagiarizing information obtained from the Internet
-Having devices cause distractions during class time
-Sharing private/personal information on the Internet
-Purchasing apps, music, or other items during school
The results showed different needs in different divisions. In the meantime, for the 2016-17 school year, our committee:
-Worked with the CDS marketing team to establish a visual identity
-Implemented a Digital Citizenship Curriculum for Grades 1-5
-Created a grade- and division-specific resource guide
-Hosted a viewing of the “Screenagers” movie for CDS parents and the general public, with discussion led by pediatrician Dr. Beth Vo
In Key Middle school we focus on the ethical use of technology, discussion about appropriate screen communication, expectations for use of technology as a learning tool, and safety issues. We also offer Lunch & Learn sessions for parents.
In Middle School, we teach “netiquette.” In Grade 7 Humanities, we teach responsible Internet research and then reinforce it throughout the year—how to choose reliable web resources, how to cite them (images, too), how to avoid plagiarism. We look at the idea of bias in resources and discuss the need to look for a mix of perspectives. In terms of social media, we stress the importance of being positive and constructive when commenting on each other’s blogs created for school assignments.
In Upper School, we discuss the nine facets of digital citizenship with each of our freshman classes. The students write about ways digital citizenship issues impact their daily lives (both in and outside of school) and share their thoughts with each other in class discussion.
Throughout the school, we balance technology with traditional forms of communication. It is critical for students to be able to excel in both arenas.