Digital citizenship is all about the confident, positive, and safe use of digital technology both within and outside of the classroom for communication, collaboration, education, and entertainment. This encompasses a lot of different topics including (but not limited to):
- Internet safety
- Privacy and security
- Safe and positive communication and etiquette
- Online relationships and cyberbullying
- Different methods of creating and consuming information
- Authenticity of information
- Credit and copyright issues
In the drama classroom, teachers and students can use digital resources for a huge variety of tasks such as:
- Sharing what you’re doing in drama class (classroom updates, photos, videos, and so on)
- Promoting your upcoming productions
- Communicating with group members and colleagues
- Sharing information such as schedules, notes, and rehearsal videos
- Doing research on theatrical topics
- Finding classroom resources
- Reading scripts online
- Watching theatrical videos
- Listening to musical soundtracks
- And more!
The Internet is ever-present in our daily lives and so incredibly easy to access – most students have smartphones and are constantly chatting, consuming, liking, sharing, subscribing, and even creating online. Ask your students if any of them currently have a creative online outlet, such as a YouTube channel, specialized Instagram profile, SoundCloud account, or other creative content that they’re willing to share. Find out what apps they’re using, and what’s the new “thing” currently. With the Internet, this is constantly changing and evolving. At the risk of sounding like a dinosaur, I remember when Facebook was known as “The Facebook” and you had to have a university or college email address to join. Nowadays, Facebook is for everyone, but most high school students don’t bother getting accounts anymore – it’s all about Instagram, VSCO, and Snapchat. Come back to this post in a month or so and those apps will probably be outdated already!
Along with the constant changes to the digital landscape, common digital citizenship issues within the drama classroom include:
- Finding and using resources ethically and legally. It’s so easy to bootleg music, watch illegal recordings of Broadway shows, download and share scripts and scores without paying for rights, and so on. Are you going through the correct channels to obtain classroom materials, purchase scripts and scores, and access the videos and songs you wish to consume? Theft is theft, whether it is physical or digital.
- Locating and citing sources accurately. Plagiarism is really easy to do with online sources, and it’s also easy to find sources that turn out to be inaccurate. Websites like Wikipedia can be edited by anyone, which means that the information found there can be incomplete, biased, or entirely wrong. And with free and simple website-building sites, anyone can buy a domain, throw some HTML together, upload some content, and claim to be an expert. It’s very important to ensure that the information students are consuming (and you, as teachers, are sharing) is legitimate.
- How and when to share classroom and production content. Does your drama department have an online presence? Do you share useful articles and videos with your students? Does your local community know about your upcoming productions? Do you have a departmental website? Is your online footprint non-existent or do you bombard your followers with multiple posts per day? Do you need to brush up on your own digital skills?
- How your students are using digital technology. Look at the five W’s when considering how your students use and approach digital citizenship in the drama classroom.
- Where and When are students using their devices? Is it interfering with class work or rehearsal time? Are they using classroom-approved devices, or are they hiding their smartphones on their laps?
- What are they using their devices for? Is it legitimate classroom work or are they just sending silly photos to their friends?
- Who are they chatting with online? Are they talking with people they’ve only met online, or are these “IRL” (in real life) friends? Are the people that students are interacting with actually who they say they are?
- Why are they interacting with technology the way they are? Do they have a positive digital footprint? Are they using apps and digital media for good purposes or for negativity? Why are they choosing to share what they share? (Students may not realize that everything you share online is there for good – even if you think you’ve deleted it. This is part of the concept of digital permanence.)
- School-wide digital policies. What are the rules, regulations, and policies for your school? Where are they found? Do they differ from other schools in the area? What are the consequences of breaking digital rules and regulations? Are the consequences plainly described, or do you only find out after a rule is broken? Does your school have specific communication methods or apps that may or may not be used (such as teacher websites, specific digital classrooms, Facebook and/or Twitter pages, and so on)? How are students and teachers held accountable for their use of digital resources?
When approaching digital citizenship with your drama students, it’s important to first assess and reflect upon your own thoughts about and uses of digital technology. Use the included Reflection to assist with this.Click here for a free reflection for teachers. Click here for a free Digital Citizenship poster for your drama classroom!
Kerry Hishon is a director, actor, writer and stage combatant from London, Ontario, Canada. She blogs at www.kerryhishon.com.
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