Thursday, March 08, 2007

Digital Citizenship and Cyberbullying

In a recent post I discussed the proposed refresh of ISTE's NETS.S. The fifth standard, replacing stand 2 before of 'Social, Ethical and Human issues' is 'Digital Citizenship'.

V: Digital Citizenship
Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior.

In the March edition of Learning and Leading, Anita McAnear, details the importance of Digital Citizenship (free download) in empowering students to protect themselves online and for all educators to take on board the responsibility of locating appropriate resources to teach cybersafety. She also provides a list of excellent resources well worth exploring.

I think sometimes we are not good at doing this as our efforts tend to be reactionary rather than proactive. In a typical school day it is easy to avoid more difficult ethical and social issues until something happens, and then we turn around and wish some 'learning' had been engineered before the event rather than after.

I have a choice example from our school. Recently a boy in Grade 6, age 11, used his school email account from home one evening to email nasty comments about a female teacher. To do so he 'hacked' into another students account, masqueraded as that student, and then sent the email to a wide group of random email addresses on the school contact list, including the said teacher herself. Investigation took place and evidence collected. Needless to say the IT support wheels moved quickly and all email accounts for the entire school were cut off for 3 hours. Using the email accounts of suspects, IP addresses and login and logout records we essentially determined who the suspect was and detained him until a confession was offered. All in a days work, but rather unpleasant and time consuming for those involved.

Since then I have put together some material on a wiki and a presentation to do with cyberbullying. Today I presented to the Grade 6 classes and we had a good 40 minute session viewing and discussing material and filling in a survey. The purpose of the session was to raise awareness and to try and impress on the students that being a digital citizen is a responsibility that we all must take.

I am sharing my resources here so that others may use them or take ideas from them as I have found it invaluable to be able to take work of others for my own use.
The 'Cyberbullying Presentation' wiki provides full details with hyperlinks to all material with embedded videos. There is also a PPT to download to guide you through the material rather than having the wiki page open in front of the audience. I also downloaded the YouTube videos and we viewed them offline. (Don't forget that is a great converter for .flv to .mpeg or any other format you need).

The presentation itself would not be as good without the help of online material from many sources. I have created another wiki page to collect and showcase online safety resources as well. However a big thank you goes to Parry Aftab for her online material at, and Also, a big thank you to Jeff Utecht and the Grade 7 students at Shanghai American School for making the topic real by sharing their student-created cyberbullying videos. Jeff has created a SAS YouTube account where these can all be found. Today I showed 3 of the student videos to our Grade 6 students, so thank you to Tait, Raymond and Matthew for your wonderful efforts!

I welcome your input and comments as to your own experiences with Digital Citizenship awareness and cyberbullying education in your school. Next term I plan to hold a parent meeting/workshop and will be looking for further best-practice ideas for bringing parents into the world of the teenagers and younger!

Photo credit: from called 'citizenship first flight'

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1 comment:

Parry Aftab said...

Thanks Julie for the kind words and making good use of our expertise and materials. We have lots more too. Our new cyberbullying video will be done this week. I'll try and get it up on YouTube. We have lots of animations too, but since they are in flash, we would have to convert to post on YouTube.

We had a case of cyberbullying ourselves, with some high school students trashing cyberbullying materials on youtube, which is why I disabled embedding.
but I am happy to find a way to get it to you for your use.

I also want to recruit you for We could use your caring, talent and energy.

e-mail me directly, or visit the site and fill out the volunteer form. Let them know I reached out to you, and I'll expedite your application. (They'll let me know.)

Thanks again.
Parry Aftab
Executive Director