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Over the last several years educators have worked hard to increase their use of media in the classroom. We have witnessed how students continue to grow their online presence and many different outlets have encouraged us to seek out lessons to teach our students how to be active participants in this environment. If you are like me, you have scoured Common Sense Media and their wonderful toolkits and developed many different digital citizenship lesson sequences to guide your students, using a wide variety of platforms. As you have developed these lessons, you have been learning alongside your students many of the ins and outs of what is appropriate, how to stay safe, etc. You have probably also participated in district-mandated training and even sought out your own professional development in order to stay current with the exponential growth in legislation surrounding student privacy.
Your own depth of knowledge on the subject of digital citizenship comes into play every time you decide what you are going to have your students do to demonstrate mastery in your content area. Your students, as well as most parents, rely on teachers to help them navigate new platforms and tools while staying safe and current in the ever-changing online world. At this point in the summer, you are probably starting to think about what you can reuse, what you can tweak and what to completely overhaul in your lessons to address "fake news", evaluating information and giving proper attribution to content your students may want to use this coming school year. Some of your tried and true plans may suffer from the disappearance of the specific tools you were using, or you may simply want to strengthen your own knowledge in order to be better prepared to address these topics, but where can you find easy to follow professional development that can help you uncover your own blind-spots?
For me, the answer came in the form of KQEDTeach. I've written about them before, but what you may not know is that not only are they free, but they have recently added several new courses specifically addressing digital citizenship. Each of the courses follows a learn-make-teach cycle, where you are not only given the tools and practice each skill yourself, but you are also encouraged to think about and develop a lesson plan that you can use in the fall to address it with students. If you complete the course and share your lesson plan, you also get a certificate which in many instances can be used to certify PD hours. Win all around!
Finding and Evaluating Information: This course walks you through the ins and outs of finding reliable sources of information and evaluating your search results. There is a whole module on lateral reading that I found particularly useful as I tweaked my original lesson plan to come up with the new "Stop the Fake News Cycle"(to open this link, and all the subsequent following lesson plan links, you will need to register on the KQEDTeach platform).
Safety and Privacy in a Participatory Culture: This course addresses online safety from the perspective of consumers of digital media, the development of your online persona and most importantly, navigating the privacy settings and terms of service of different platforms. After taking this course my whole approach to clicking "I agree" changed, and led to a better iteration of my Digital Citizenship lesson plan.
Understanding Copyright and Fair Use: Not only does this course help you dive more deeply into copyright and fair use and gives you tools to go beyond clicking "usage rights" when teaching this to students, it also provides you with ways to address the proper attribution of several forms of media. After taking this course, I knew that many of my lessons would need to fully address how my students were using media to support their knowledge and led to the inclusion of these concepts in lessons such as the one I used to exemplify how I plan to incorporate this moving forward (Proper Attribution)
Constructing Media Messages: Building upon the previous courses, this course also includes how to deconstruct media to interpret hidden messages and identify biases. The course puts you, and by extension your students, in the role of creators of media. To exemplify the lengths to which advertisers go to spread their message and how images can be manipulated I developed a completely new lesson as a final product for this course entitled Media Fake Out, which though I have not taught, I plan to incorporate at the beginning of the school year.
These are the courses that I've found most helpful under the umbrella of digital citizenship for educators on KQED teach, but as you explore you will also find many others to address media creation in your classroom. There is even one that specifically talks about managing and assessing media projects! As your summer winds down, I invite you to hone your skills and join me on KQED Teach.