Acceptable and ethical behaviour in collaborative environments where users create, control and share their own content cannot be accomplished by simply setting rules. Policy and guidelines are a useful starting point, but ongoing discussion is vital to building a culture of digital citizenship.
Digital citizenship is not just a topic for the experts. It's a conversation for everyone who participates in the online space. There are a number of environments where these discussions can take place: professional learning and development sessions, staff, department or syndicate meetings, online forums, conferences. If a school is committed to developing a digital citizenship culture, then it must provide resources to allow this ongoing discussion to take place.
Within every staff room there are always a range of skills and confidence both in personal use of ICT and in its use in the classroom. Promoting discussion between confident and less confident staff is a vital step in the development of a digital citizenship culture both within a school and within the teaching profession as a whole.
Discussion can stretch much further than just between educators. Cybersafety and digital citizenship is a topic which can be discussed at length with the wider school community. When a whole school, a class or a group are undertaking an IT based project or initiative, make sure that as well as the nuts and bolts of what is going on, the opportunity to discuss rights and responsibilities is also seized. This gives a chance for the whole community to look at why the use of digital technologies is important for students learning and to contribute to the conversation around individual roles in the internet safety process. By fostering this discussion, a school can develop a shared understanding of ICT use, and a community endorsed best practice for online safety.
Talk to other educators about their experiences and their strategies in creating a culture of digital citizenship. Ask what works and why. Ask what didn't work and why. Share your issues, suggestions and successes with others.
NetSafe's myLGP (www.mylgp.org.nz) website provides a forum for educators to share strategies that they have used to support digital citizenship, and allows others to provide feedback, make suggestions and discuss their experiences. This is simply one of many professional forums where these kinds of discussions can be held.
Helping young people understand acceptable and ethical behaviour in collaborative, environments where they create, control and share their own content cannot be accomplished by a single set or rules. Policy and guidelines are a useful starting point, but ongoing discussion is vital to build the confidence of staff and students.