I've planned, led, and facilitated many events and symposia designed to educate and empower youth for the digital age. If you are planning such an event, I'd love to help. If you don't know where to start, my team can work with you and your students to design an unforgettable event.
Below you will find descriptions of what a digital citizenship symposium might offer. The content is modular so we can work with your intended timeframe and the areas of content that you'd like to focus on (e.g., social media, digital identities, cyberbullying, mental health, cybersafety, youth activism, digital literacy). We can also include integrate sessions specifically for teachers and parents!
Digital Citizenship Symposia Outline
Goals and Purpose
Today’s young people live in a world where technology and social media are enmeshed in and inseparable from their everyday lives. Despite their frequent use of digital tools, however, youth often do not possess the higher-level critical thinking skills needed to use technology safely and to leverage digital devices for powerful learning. Additionally, parents are often ill-equipped to teach their children these skills - and this means that our young people are frequently left to fend for themselves or are simply told to stay off the web.
For many years, schools have tried to keep the digital world out of the classroom by banning phones or blocking particular content. But as increasing numbers of students come to school with their own personal devices, teachers can no longer ignore these powerful tools. Instead, it’s more important than ever that educators step up to take an active role in preparing students to thrive in our digital reality by teaching them to participate safely, responsibly, and productively in online spaces: to become active and capable digital citizens. Digital citizenship goes beyond the simple concept of cyber-safety and helps students understand both their rights and their responsibilities as online participants. Unfortunately, many teachers are just as unprepared as parents when it comes to teaching about these complex topics.
The digital citizenship symposia described below are designed to equip all members of the school community (students, teachers, parents, and administrators) with the knowledge and understanding necessary to address the challenges of teaching, learning, and living in our online world.
Typical digital citizenship symposia are made up of a number of different modular presentations and workshops targeted towards particular audiences. The various sessions can be selected and combined in multiple ways depending on the individual needs of the school community. As well, the symposium length and format can be tailored based on the desired areas of focus and may range from a half day session to an in-depth three day learning experience.
Typical orientations often include a keynote presentation, small group discussion session(s), and hands-on student workshop(s). Participating teachers may be asked to take on a mentoring role throughout these sessions, with guidance and instruction provided beforehand. Supplementary teacher and parent workshops are also common. Online sessions/support can be provided before or after the event.
About the modules
Most sessions can be offered as a presentation or a hands-on workshop. This often depends on time allotted as well as any specific equipment available to participants or schools. Modules can be catered toward personal devices (e.g., BYOD schools), 1:1 environments, or schools with limited technologies. Modules can also be adapted specific to available technologies: smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc.
These sessions are intended to provide students with an overview of digital citizenship and digital identity as well as with an opportunity to dig deeper into these topics through guided discussion sessions and/or workshops. Sessions focus on helping students to become leaders in their communities by equipping them with the skills and tools necessary to address cyberbullying, develop their own positive digital identities, become critical consumers of online information, and plan and carry out online projects that promote positive social change.
Sample student sessions include:
Understanding the pitfalls and potential of social media
Developing positive digital identities
Understanding terms of service and big data
Becoming upstanders in a digital world
Developing and supporting online activism projects
These sessions provide parents and guardians with an opportunity to learn more about digital citizenship and the role that parents can play in supporting their children; the sessions will also help parents to recognize the importance of rich technology integration in classrooms. Parent sessions may be broad to serve a wide population, or they can be tailored for specific audiences (e.g. parents of primary students, parents of teenagers, etc.).
Sample parent sessions include:
Raising the selfie generation
Where’d our kids go? Exploring popular tools and apps
Teaching the ins and outs of digital citizenship can be difficult for teachers who may be unfamiliar with the tools and spaces of the online world. In these teachers sessions, which may be run during the school day or after school hours, teachers take part in interactive workshops targeted to the age groups they teach. Sessions will cover the popular services and online sites being used by students, provide an overview of the many different elements of digital citizenship and digital literacy, and walk participants through some activities that they can use in their classrooms to teach about this important topic.
Additional sessions for teachers and administrators go beyond this introduction to digital citizenship; in these sessions, school staff members will work with facilitators to begin the process of implementing a school-wide plan for digital citizenship, using the Digital Citizenship Planning Guide as a starting point.
Sample teacher sessions include:
Introduction to digital citizenship
Digital literacy 101
Digital identity: Your students and you
Teaching 2.0: Using technology in transformative ways
Online social activism: Helping students change the world