Policies and Practices for Digital Natives
White paper addresses indelibility of students’ digital footprints,
offering recommendations for schools and parents
DULLES, Va., April 4, 2016—Technology in the classroom can empower a student’s educational journey, but effective implementation must include comprehensive lessons on digital citizenship, according to a white paper released today by NetRef, a leader in Internet management in schools.
“The indelibility of a digital footprint has implications unprecedented in society, particularly for youth,” said co-author George Dotterer, CEO and co-founder of Verite Educational Systems Inc. “Giving children the tools and ethical code to make good choices is vital. Teaching digital citizenship in school and at home keeps them and their futures safer.”
According to “Digital Natives: Citizens of a Changing World,” effective EdTech programming requires much more than merely equipping students with Internet access and devices. Curricula, practices and policies that advance digital citizenship will promote safe and responsible use of the Internet and personal technology, with broad implications across society, business and governance. Students must be taught the importance of navigating the digital landscape consciously and safely, with personal responsibility and self-regulation given equal weight to digital fluency.
The authors argue for building awareness of the potential dangers of the Internet and the permanence of one’s personal footprint. “Looking to the future, today’s youth will encounter technologies and face choices that will seem unimaginable even today. Anchoring their digital literacy in a moral construct is critical for providing context and helping them develop safe and responsible decision-making abilities that can last a lifetime,” added Dotterer.
Calling for lessons to be consistent at home and in school and centered in basic societal values of decency, responsibility, compassion, and doing no harm, they offer the following recommendations for schools:
- Design a robust digital citizenship curriculum.
- Counsel students that “what goes online stays online.”
- Craft an empowering acceptable use policy for students.
- Teach students their digital rights.
- Advise parents of new social media and online trends.
- Provide an easy-to-understand guide for online behavior.
- Equip teachers and parents with EdTech programs and practices to manage children’s Internet use.
Fifth in a series of white papers exploring the impact of and challenges surrounding technology in schools, the paper was co-authored by Andrew Hedges, Verite’s program manager, and Harrison Parker, director of K-12 Education. Dotterer and his team designed NetRef, the first-ever Internet management tool that safeguards all web access points across a school’s networks and on all imported devices, helping teachers maximize the web as an educational and collaborative learning tool. With seamless and simple integration, NetRef offers umbrella protection across all systems, hardware and devices—from 1:1 to BYOD environments—minimizes distractions and helps keep students on-task.
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