E55 5 Things Every Digital Citizen Should Know with Alice Chen (Transcript)

10-Minute Teacher Podcast

In this episode, Alice Chen talks about five things every digital citizen should know and how she teaches them to her students.

Alice Chen

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Episode 55 5 Things Every Digital Citizenship Should Know with Alice Chen

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“They’re really good at texting and informal language and that’s great and wonderful and I don’t want to stifle that, but at the same time they need to understand that they need to move fluidly between a public self and a private self.”

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VICKI:          Happy Five Idea Friday. Today we have Alice Chen @wondertechedu who has her 9 Key C’s of Digital Citizenship. http://wondertechedu.blogspot.com/2015/02/the-9-cs-of-digital-literacy.html  Please check the show notes, you don’t want to miss these. So Alice, today we’re talking about five ways to practice digital citizenship in your classroom. What’s the first way?

ALICE:          Sure. Thank you so much for having me on your show. The first thing that we should think about when our students go online is internet safety. And my students do a lot of work online and their information is out there. So one thing we ensure that they know is, number one, let’s only use our first names. Let’s not use any last names.

Secondly, they want to make sure they don’t give away any personal information; no email addresses or usernames that could be tied back into a private account.

Thirdly, when they’re interacting with other people online, just make sure that they don’t reveal, perhaps, the location of where they live or the schools that they go to. So those are the first few things that we talk about when they’re communicating online with other students or just putting their information out there.

VICKI:          And you know sometimes kids just don’t think about the information they share. They’re just so trusting. What’s that second one?


ALICE:          Right. They are very trusting. The second one is just really focus on creating a positive online identity. We talk about digital footprints and everything in our teaching. And students don’t really realize that once it’s out there on the web it could literally be there forever even if they think they deleted off of their end or their ends or their account. It is possibly saved out there on the server of the product that owns the server. So really make sure they create a positive online identity. And because this could be eventually used by colleges or companies when they come around to accept applications or recruit students for certain programs, we hear stories about that all the time.

So always think about what you put out there know that it is potentially permanent.

VICKI:          Yes, and you know my students for their college applications including URLs of their portfolio. And that’s a very positive thing that helps them to get scholarships and get into college. Okay, what’s our third?

ALICE:          Third way to practice digital citizenship, at least, in my class is we do a lot of online discussions and we use Google Classroom https://classroom.google.com/and Schoology https://www.schoology.com/  for those purposes. I want my students to learn how to interact online professionally using academic language, the language of success. I tell them that they’re really good at texting and informal language and that’s great and wonderful and I don’t want to stifle that. But at the same time they need to understand that they need to move fluidly between a public self and a private self, a professional persona as well.

So we do a lot of discussion online using Google Classroom and we also connect with another classroom outside the state through Schoology.

VICKI:          Fun. So you’re really experiencing interactions in a safe way, aren’t you?


ALICE:          Yes, absolutely. And because these platforms allow students to work in an environment. I know that people they’re interacting with have been pre-screened with the school that we’ve been working with. I know the teacher and we make sure our students are discussing the work online appropriately. What we do is we read an article a day and our students have a discussion about it every week.

VICKI:          How do the kids feel about having an authentic audience? I mean, do they respond differently than if it was just for each other?

ALICE:          Absolutely. In the past, traditional methods of teaching were analog ways – it’s really the teacher who sees their work. But with the digital tools, they really can have a broader audience and that really helps steps up their game. They really do want to produce good work, they also know that many eyes are looking at their work whereas sometimes they think their teacher perhaps doesn’t read everything that they write. But in this kind of environment they know that students would actually knock on each other if they’re not working appropriately.

VICKI:          Well, we know authentic audience improves student performance, it just does. (See https://www.edutopia.org/article/value-of-authentic-audience-monica-burns)Okay, what’s our fourth?

ALICE:          The fourth way we practice digital citizenship is through blogging. All of my students have their own personal blog that I manage though Kidblog http://kidblog.org/and it really gets their work out there. We are able to connect with many classrooms around the country and sometimes around the world through our blogging platform. They really want to produce the best work possible because there’s so many eyes looking at it. I had this one student who wrote about how he was bullied in school when he was a 1st grader – I teach 8th grade right now.


So it’s been a while, that experience really stayed with him and he described it in such a way that – because he wrote this he had over 40 comments from 40 different students responding to that topic. And that really made him feel so special.

VICKI:          When you open yourself up and when you find out there’s a larger world but also when you find out that you’re not alone, I mean, doesn’t it make such a difference?

ALICE:          Yes. And I think it’s how they connected with him. Everyone was coming forward and saying all these positive things and sympathizing with him. It was just remarkable to see that unfold online.

VICKI:          Okay, what’s our fifth?

ALICE:          Fifth one is really important. I’m a big advocate for observing copyright laws and a lot of students – and you know some teachers don’t realize that all content produced now is copyright-protected even if there is no such declaration on the work. So we really focus on how and when you use media for your project. When you find pictures or audio or video that you want to use in your projects. Let’s make sure they are creative Commons licensed https://creativecommons.org/licenses/ or in the public domain. Don’t just assume that because someone put it out there on the internet that it’s okay to just take. (Editor’s note: See Copyright 101: A Lesson in Licenses – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNqgxSWw02o )

VICKI:          So, Alice, what’s the biggest mistake teachers make when dealing with digital citizenship issues?

ALICE:          I think that people talk about how – oh, we talk about digital citizenship, we don’t want to make to make the web seem like this big bad world out there for them. And I don’t think that internet safety is really about scaring students, internet safety is really about learning how to navigate through the web in a positive and safe manner and that yes you certainly share a lot online, you just want to be mindful of what you are sharing. And it could lead to really great experiences.


VICKI:          Do you think, Alice, that some teachers are kind of afraid of their own digital citizenship role?

ALICE:          I think you’re right in that respect, definitely. I remember when I first started out in Edtech, I wanted everything to be private. My Facebook page was all about connecting with just my friends and my family and I didn’t want to put myself out there. But once I realize that sharing online with other educators actually made me a better educator that it was definitely worth taking that step and you an certain filter out what you want to share and still remain somewhat private but at the same time have this wonderful network of educators to network and learn from.

VICKI:          So teachers, I want to emphasize what Alice said. Sharing online with other educators makes us a more remarkable educator. I know that, when I started 11 years ago, really sharing what I was doing and I just felt like I needed to share as a newbie not like as anybody who knew anything – and I still kind of feel like a newbie – has transformed my life and the life of my students. I can’t emphasize enough this key points of digital citizenship because it really starts with us.

ALICE:          Yes, absolutely.

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