The year I began teaching, I didn’t have a computer hooked up to the Internet. This was only eleven years ago. As I have adapted to the rapid changes in technology access that have occurred for myself and for my students, I have looked for fundamental principles to guide my teaching practice. Resources such as the Framework for 21st Century Learning (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2007), the International Society for Technology in Education National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers and Students (ISTE NETS, 2008), and Edutopia (The George Lucas Educational Foundation, 2010) have been invaluable guides in my quest for best practices in educational technology.
The final magnitude of the Internet explosion is still unknown. In the beginning, I was happy to see students using the Internet to conduct research and take hand written notes. Then, I created my own web site and students could access preferred links. Now, students use Web 2.0 tools to interact and publish content for academic and personal purposes. Web 3.0 tools now create semantic maps that interpret and anticipate our queries based on our history of use (Strickland, 2008). Understanding digital citizenship and the ethical, legal, social, and human issues surrounding the use of technology in PK-12 schools is now critically important.
In my classroom, I model and teach legal and ethical practice related to technology use. Before beginning a technology-infused learning experience such as writing a documentary, participating in a collaborative wiki, or entering a podcast competition, I teach students the necessary elements of digital citizenship by providing them with information and resources, and by modeling. The principles of digital citizenship are an integral part of my direct instruction, but students need more than a single lesson. In a workshop environment, I continue assessing for student understanding and teaching students as I coach individuals and small group. Students absorb the language of digital citizenship and I often observe them questioning each other and discussing the finer points of Fair Use and Copyright.
In my classroom, I also address the social and human issues inherent to educational technology use. The issues are profound and multifaceted. The social and human issue of digital equity obligates me to ensure that all my students have access to the technology they need for assignments. The social and human issue of finding appropriate educational technology tools for all learners challenges me to find the just-right technological approach for each of my students. The social and human issues of Internet safety and etiquette must be addressed as students increase their participation in academic and social forums. Lastly, the social and human issues of 21st Century technology-based globalization demand that students learn to interact digitally with people from around the world.