Why We Need to Teach Digital Citizenship

Digital Citizenship in ActionIn today’s technology-driven world, our society is moving at a lightning fast pace. Information is communicated at the click of a button, kids and teenagers are participating in global conversations from their cell phones, and traditional sources of news, information and knowledge are being passed over because they are simply too slow, too cumbersome, and too static.

Social media has been elevated from an interesting hobby for techies, to a standard means of conducting business and a legitimate source of news and knowledge. Because it has long been the domain of techies and teens, social media is seen by many as unnecessary or intrusive. But the prevalence and pervasiveness of social media have made it impossible to ignore as it becomes a big part of our everyday lives.

As participants in this new technological age, and most especially as educators, we have a responsibility to become knowledgeable participants who can safely navigate the social media landscape. Of course, one of the big questions is why do we want to use social networks? Well, to put it simply, it’s where your students are. If you are still leery of the impact of social media, here are some interesting facts about social media usage.

The North American total population is around 347 Million, and of those, 273 Million (79%) were internet users as of December 2011 (Internet World Stats.com).

There are 173 Million North American users (50% of all North American internet users) on Facebook (Internet World Stats.com).

Social networks/blogs account for 1 in every 4.5 minutes of online time (NeilsenWire June 2010).

So what is the significance of these stats? They clearly illustrate a wide spread acceptance of social media and the importance of us becoming responsible digital citizens.  Social media is revolutionizing the way we communicate and interact with each other. “Digital Citizenship” is increasingly more important for our technologically savvy students as well as ourselves, our students may have the knowledge necessary to access and utilize the myriad of online social media sites, but in many cases they lack the understanding of how to participate in these online communities in a safe and appropriate manner. “Digital citizenship” is a skill that we need to learn in order to educate our students.

It's Time to Flip Your Classroom

Imagine students walking into a classroom and instead of sitting at a desk and listening to a lecture, they participate in activities and do their homework in class. While it may seem like a very abstract approach to teaching, this method is very much a reality.

Appropriately called “The Flipped Classroom,” this method flips the traditional learning experience on its head. Instead of the students taking home large amounts of homework with them every night, they instead spend their time outside of the classroom listening to recorded lectures and participating in online class discussions. Conversely, when the students come to class, they work on activities and exercises that reinforce what they learned the previous night.

This new concept allows teachers to work with their students and become more active members in the learning experience. With the flipped classroom, students can now interact with their teacher and peers to help grasp important concepts. This model also relieves some of the frustration and difficulty some students encounter when learning on their own.

The inversion of the traditional learning experience removes the passiveness of lectures and incorporates a more active teaching method that is more engaging for students.

The flipped classroom movement was started in 2007 by teachers Jonathan Bergman and Aaron Sams in Woodland Park, CO. They began recording their PowerPoint lectures for students who missed class, but other students began watching the videos as well. As the popularity of their online videos grew, Bergman and Sams began to experiment with their new teaching method.

The rest, as they say, is education history.

Teachers across the globe have begun adopting the flipped classroom concept and are lauding its success. With this model, students receive instant feedback and are less frustrated when they are having trouble understanding concepts. This new model is also impacting online education.

With the increase in distance learning and online education solutions, teachers can also leverage the benefits of blended learning strategies and incorporate them into their flipped classrooms.

We are seeing a dramatic shift in today’s education landscape. Flipped classrooms, blended learning strategies and online education are showing that our students want and need to be more engaged in the learning process. The traditional classroom setting will need to evolve in order to successfully serve today’s students.

New technologies are making us a more participatory culture and the days of passively consuming information is gone. With concepts like the flipped classroom, hopefully the education experience is changing for the better.

Watch this great video of Aaron Sams as he explains why he flipped his classroom.

Over 80% of Teachers Say eLearning Increases Student Engagement and Quality of Work

Here’s a great Mashable article explaining the new eLearning trend and the increasing use of digital technology. Below is an excerpt from the recent article by Charlie White:

Even in the richest countries on the planet such as the U.S., not everyone has easy access to this cornucopia of connectivity, the Internet.

The Internet is a tremendous growth engine, responsible for 21% of economic growth in the more advanced countries in the world, according to a McKinsey study.

While those of us in the United States complain about how we have to pay more for Internet service that’s slower than those of other first-world countries, within the United States there’s a gaping chasm between the haves and the have-nots.

In this infographic by OnlineITdegree.net, an ad-free website describing itself as “an online informational resource for individuals looking to pursue IT degree of related education and careers,” you’ll find surprising information about the differences in Internet access in the United States.

Visit the Mashable site to read the entire article and view the complete infographic.