First, a few words from our students...
At Lakeside Middle School in Val Verde Unified School District, students are creating collections of resources about digital citizenship on Gooru’s open platform. As they craft learning experiences for other students, they were asked to reflect about digital citizenship in a prompt that included, “Think about why citizenship is important and how we go about creating the type of society we want to live in. How does the concept of citizenship translate to the digital world? What legacy do you want to leave as a member of the digital world?”
A few student responses are below:
“We can all greatly impact the digital world if we choose to wield our power positively. When I say positively, I mean to respect others digitally, to act appropriately, to handle responsibilities, and to leave a legacy as a part of the digital world by supporting others and sharing ideas.” --Perla V.
“What shape society are the people inside it, so if everyone on-line has good digital citizenship we would be able to create a safe and welcoming on-line society.”--Raji K.
“People would tend to express themselves and interact more freely online than out in society. However, because people feel more free in the digital world, poor citizenship becomes a habit, which can expose the negative aspects of our society.” --Katarina Z.
“If you or someone else has their rights as a digital citizen taken away, then you have to stand up for them.” --Jacob D.
Reflecting on Our Progress
Over the past half year, we’ve deepened our engagement with Val Verde, our partner in our DML Trust Challenge project, and specifically Lakeside Middle School, whose teachers, students, and parents form the community whom we’re working with to create the Gooru Trust Lab. The Gooru Trust Lab is a learning environment that fosters trust and safety, digital citizenship, and data privacy for students at Val Verde, who are creating interest-driven collections on Gooru to share with their peers and community.
Since last summer, we’ve focused and defined our goals for the Gooru Trust Lab. As suggested by Val Verde’s superintendent Mike McCormick, we’re working towards the teaching and learning of the principles of digital citizenship. As students become more active consumers and sharers online, both in learning and social environments, better awareness and teaching of digital citizenship is becoming a greater need at the district.
Over the summer and during this school year, we worked closely with Lakeside Principal John Parker, Coach Teresa Adams, and teachers Taylor Piester and Lisa Tiernan as well as Lakeside students to define what digital citizenship really means for this community. Students took the lead on creating a Rights and Responsibilities document that describes what the principles and actions of good digital citizenship looks like for student, teacher, and parent audiences. We’re currently working on revising the document so that it includes an aspirational element for each audience, and we also want it to go through an approval process by each audience. Currently at Lakeside, students are using the Rights and Responsibilities document as a guideline to build open lessons on Gooru around digital citizenship to help teach their peers and community.
At the Workshop
The DML workshop at UC Irvine in January was an exciting opportunity to see the new progress that other DML grantees have been making. Lisa Tiernan, a teacher from lakeside who is guiding her students to build Gooru collections around digital citizenship, and I co-presented our work at the workshop. It was our first DML event, and we both gained new inspiration and understanding of the shared goals of the DML Trust Challenge, as well as appreciated the diversity of angles from which we are approaching the challenge of building trust. Lisa was happy to provide an educator perspective on some of the other grantee projects as well.
Most concretely, we took away ideas to share with students as they are building their collections. Based on feedback from the panelists, Lisa has provided a suggested “menu” of options that will guide students as they build digital citizenship lessons to share with their peers and the greater Val Verde student body. For example, one idea generated by a panelist is adding a personal storytelling element to their collections, perhaps stories of situations when they demonstrated good digital citizenship. Lisa has mentioned that a couple of students interested in drama are thinking of creating and recording a skit to add as a video resource on Gooru. She will also suggest to students to consider social justice and activism in relation to digital citizenship, as well as other ways to define their roles as digital citizens, all ideas contributed by panelists and other grantees at the workshop.
We also came away with ideas for scaling and sharing this project when the time is right. While the Rights and Responsibilities document is specific to the values of Lakeside, we will share this document as a resource in the public domain, so it’s freely remixable and reusable for any school, district, or community who also wants to raise awareness of digital citizenship. One possibility for spreading this project district-wide and beyond to other districts is to create a digital driver’s license or passport program available through Gooru that anyone can go through to learn about and practice good digital citizenship. This program might include digital citizenship modules available freely on Gooru, with assessment items. We will put more thought into the criteria for “passing” and actually receiving a “digital driver’s license” or badge, but this program could be a scalable way to share what Lakeside has done for the Trust Lab.
At the workshop, we saw areas of natural collaboration amongst other grantees. For example, the Berkman Center has created a fantastic digital literacy toolkit and their DML team was looking to share it with educators and schools. We’d love for them to share it on Gooru, and we’d like to share it in turn with our partner districts who have a digital citizenship or literacy initiative. We’ve also engaged with other grantees where our work has overlapped, specifically in the teacher professional development and content review space.
We were encouraged by panelists’ feedback and suggestions, and also took the opportunity to reflect on the future of the project and what impact it could have on future audiences. Though we can’t predict or meet the needs of every community who wants to share digital citizenship principles, we want to consider throughout the project what support we can give to be inclusive of all audiences.
Thoughts Going Forward
Gooru and Lakeside have very much encouraged students to take the lead in this project because we fundamentally believe that students should take ownership of their learning. In our larger organizational work, Gooru supports schools and teachers who want to empower their students to have agency in their learning. An important part of self-directed learning is that students are familiar with and practice the principles of digital citizenship, that they are not only safe and responsible but also inspiring sharers online. You can’t just hand the keys over to a person and call them a driver--you also have to teach what it means to be a good driver. Through this project, as we support students to become educators and connected learners, we also hope to understand a bit more about what it means to be a responsible learner on Gooru and other online learning environments.