A few years back, while working on an assignment, I happened to delve deeper into the scope and content of integrating technology in the classroom. With my limited knowledge and experience of digital world, I began my journey and started exploring tools and even interacting with the educators around the world. The never ending conversation on the contextual learning and what is more important for the students to know in this era became the most intriguing experience for me. However, I do not claim that I have done much work in this area, but I surely possess a great interest and passion to bring about the awareness in the student community, to be cautious, careful, and balanced while stepping into this digital territory.
Time flies so quickly. I remember in 2011, students in the class, were given an exposure to different tools for presenting their work. They were learning to operate their devices and trying to make sense of the information available on net. On the other hand, teachers used various backchannel tools to record students’ responses and their questions. Also, looking at various means to make the ICT integration more useful and contextual for the students. The thrill and excitement in students was unbelievable.
And now when I look back, it seems we have come a long way and there is still a milestone to achieve. I have witnessed a great change in students and teachers understanding about this small world of technology. An exposure of ICT as a means to demonstrating through ways of thinking is achieved as compared to mastering of tools. Now, both the communities, students as well as teachers are well prepared and ready to use ICT for language and skills development.
But is that what we all want? Is that what we are looking for? The simple answer to these question is Not really. We all know that living and working in any society comes with both rights and responsibilities. Thus, simply teaching our young students how to use different tools or technology is never going to be enough; we must ensure that they also learn to use it more wisely, ethically, safely, and responsibly. Teachers and Parents have a significant role to play in raising these young creative thinker in this digital world. It is imperative that children are guided to make informed and ethical choices while acting with great integrity and honesty. In this globally connected virtual world, children must be entrusted to be responsible for their actions. Infact, they should be guided to value others’ rights and to practise safe, legal, and responsible behaviour.
Digital citizenship is a concept to prepare our children and technology users for a society full of technology. Our children grow through an expeditious growth in their learning about many things including technology. They are required to be able to connect and communicate 24/7; they start from playing games on their parents’ cell phones to learning how to participate in a connected digital culture. As we expend more time online, it is critical to understand how to stay safe online. Young people in today's time live in a world drenched with information and supplements. Undoubtedly, children’s inquisitiveness for various devices and their exploration journey about this digital world is quite alarming. They need guidance and support from their parents and teachers to affirm that they make the right choices. It may so happen that their abilities to perform in this information age is beyond their maturity and intellect. Parents must share some time talking to the students about consequences and impact of their actions.
In the present time, it’s challenging to decide as to how much independence and flexibility to give kids. As parents and teachers, we definitely want them to communicate, and connect more legally and ethically. If our kids are going to shine and prosper with the concept of digital citizenship , we must balance the privacy with protection. Today children requires more autonomy and privacy; therefore they must be guided how to protect their identity and be safe online.
Always be approachable and keep an open mind. We don’t look at the world through the eyes of our children. They have a completely different view about the way things work and move in their lives. And often we get swayed with our emotions and narrow thinking; we don’t help children when we analyse their lives through the lens of a non digital world. It’s important for us to realize that our children will invest much of their lives in a connected world, where everyone will make every effort to create their own mark. As a parent, the most excellent means to encourage our children is to ensure they understand their role as netizens and build on the concept of being responsible digital citizens. We must educate them about the benefits and risks of using technology. Just as we help them to stay safe in the real-world.
At fountainhead, we are constantly endeavoring to achieve our goals in this area and we surely seek your support to make a difference in our child’s life and our society at large.
(Published in the Fountainhead School's Magazine - 2017)