This week, we took a close look at what it means to have a digital footprint, which lead me to a more significant understanding of this week’s material; in order to effectively teach our students in today’s age, we need to integrate technology efficiently AND effectively, which includes using character education as part of our curriculum. A digital footprint is the mark you leave behind online as you venture deeper and deeper into the internet. Character education is when students are given direct instruction on citizenship on both a societal and digital level (Ohler, 2011). There are two overarching issues that arise from integrating digital learning in schools: 1) cyber-bullying, and 2) plagiarism (Ohler, 2011). Many schools choose to just block major sites from functioning at the schools, citing that any interaction with these digital tools (primarily social media) should be done completely separated from school (Ohler,2011). However, there is a significant problem with that. In that scenario, students aren’t being taught how to be model digital citizens. They are being told they can do whatever they want as long as it isn’t on school property. In fact, it seems kind of silly that any school district would handle it this way, yet even in our group conference this week, many people said their districts do block major sites and apps from working on school grounds.
Instead of putting our heads in the sand and pretending that these things exist, we need to embrace them and make them a part of our everyday education. They may even be a small piece of the answer to our much needed education revolution. Students need to be shown how to effectively use these tools in school as part of their education, and in doing so, they will be taught this “character education” which models positive digital and societal citizenship (Ohler, 2011). This integrative method is the most effective because “students know far more about opportunities and perils in cyberspace than most adults do; their involvement gives adults and youth a chance to talk about a world in which the two groups rarely intersect; and, like adults, students will be more committed to living up to values they develop themselves than to values imposed on them by others” (Ohler, 2011). Ohler’s third point is, I believe the most important. Especially because we are in SUCH an age of innovation, and our youth and young adults are so head strong because of the tools that give them the advantage, they will be more effectively engaged in rules they set for themselves. Who wouldn’t rather listen to their own mantras and moral code over some fuddy-duddy institution? So, we need to invite digital character education into our curriculum. We need to teach students that their digital footprints are everlasting. We need to show them how lucky they are to be growing up in such an age and how to use all of it to their advantage!
Ohler, J. (2011, February). Character education for the digital age. Educational Leadership. Vol.
68. Num. 5. Retrieved March 12, 2017 from http://www.ascd.org/publications/