Team ISTE
Guide students to find solutions to digital citizenship problems

Let’s face it, students don’t learn how to be good digital citizens by listening to lectures and reading about online hazards in textbooks.

One powerful way they do learn how to be safe online is by being part of the solution.

In South Australia, ICT coordinator Christine Haynes got her students engaged in digital citizenship issues by inviting them to participate in the Australian Youth Advisory Group on Cybersafety.

“Students actually create policy and direction, and at the same time learn about the issues,” said Jo Williamson, author of the ISTE book, Effective Digital Learning Environments: Your Guide to the ISTE Standards for Coaches.

Haynes’ experience was among 20 real-world examples that Williamson highlights in her book to illustrate the ISTE Standards for Coaches and show educators how they can embed the standards into their daily work.

Williamson’s book goes beyond digital citizenship to address all aspects of the ISTE Standards for Coaches, including those on assessment, digital age learning environments and professional development.

Helping students find solution

Digital citizenship is touchy topic and many educators don’t know where to begin. So often they treat it like a math lesson and simply tell students what they should and shouldn’t do. But that’s not nearly as effective as Haynes’ approach of getting students to identify problems and brainstorm solutions.

The student advisory group did more than just talk about solutions, though. They wanted to find a way for peers to know whether a website was safe. The discussion led the Australian government to create the Cybersafety Help Button, a free app loaded with information in addition to counseling, reporting and educational resources to help students deal with issues like cyberbullying, unwanted contact, scams, fraud and inappropriate material.

Haynes, the ICT coordinator at Immanuel Primary School in Novar Gardens, South Australia, is one of the educators who is getting it right, Williamson said.

“Students are using technology all the time, but maybe not safely, appropriately or even legally,” Williamson said. “Coaches must raise awareness of digital citizenship with administrators, teachers and students in their schools and provide materials teachers can use with students.”

Learn more about how to implement the ISTE Standards for Coaches from the book Effective Digital Learning Environments: Your Guide to the ISTE Standards for Coaches.

Download digital citizenship defined, a free guide for teachers and other educators.