Digital citizenship: Better eSafe than Sorry
Digital citizenship (also called cyber-citizenship or e-citizenship) is defined as the norms of behaviour with regard to technology use. Digital citizenship involves the understanding of human, cultural and social issues related to the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), as well as the application of behaviours relevant to that understanding and the principles that guide it: ethics, legality, safety and responsibility in the use of the Internet, social networks and available technologies.
Better e-safe than sorry
IES SAN JOSÉ (Villanueva de la Serena, Badajoz)
Francisco Miguel García Barroso (English)
Francisco Manuel Cano Arroyo (Technology)
- Michael College, Koog aan de Zaan, The Netherlands
- Hristo Smirnenski Primary School, Rakovski, Bulgaria
- Herskind Skole og Børnehus, Galten Denmark
- Longdean School, Hemel Hempstead, UK
- Collège Paul Gauguin, Cordemais, France
3rd year Secondary Education
English and Spanish
This project has obtained the quality label in the Netherlands, Denmark, France and Spain
ICTs have become an integral part of our daily lives. We use the Internet for a variety of tasks: communicating with others, shopping online, working, etc. At school we try to keep pace with these new developments but in many cases we don’t have sound, updated training to know how to help our pupils to understand their dangers and implications. Our main question is whether we know how to use the Internet safely and responsibly. The aim/result of our project is mainly to educate our students in responsible use of ICTs, both inside and outside the school, and to make pupils aware of their online safety, giving them the opportunity to find answers through collaborative research in several areas related to safe use of the Internet.
Link to TwinSpace:
- Promote the use of new technologies, especially regarding the digital safety of Internet users.
- Improve the use of foreign languages.
- Increase the abilities of pupils to carry out teamwork.
- Contribute to improving the digital identity of all members of the educational community through protocols and action plans.
- Get to know other cultures, share lifestyles and above all respect the opinions of others.
- Know how to act in case of cyberbullying or manipulation of information on the Internet.
- Implement intervention protocols in problems arising from the use of the Internet and provide schools with a series of documents that regulate use and access to new technologies.
How did the idea of carrying out the project/activities arise?
This project stemmed from one of the needs of our schools detected during tutor meetings that took place during the year 2014-2105. In that year our tutorial action plan was added to several initiatives promoted by the local authority and by the Regional Ministry of Education that aimed to alert teenagers about the use of the Internet and online applications. This awareness campaign was aimed at the entire educational community as both parents and teachers should also be aware of the risks of using the Internet without basic knowledge of cybersafety, not only for their own sake but also to have more resources to assist students in the event of any incidents.
Although the activities were coordinated by the orientation department and the technology department, it was the course tutors this information was addressed to (2nd and 3rd years of Secondary Education) who were responsible for using the tutoring hours with their respective groups to explain the subject of online safety and the risks of mobile devices, especially the uncontrolled use of mobile phones that is so widespread among young people. Experts came to our school to talk to pupils and teach them what to do in cases of cyberbullying or online fraud to reinforce what had already been learned during the tutorials.
Due to the good results, for the year 2015-2016 our tutorial action plan aimed to continue with this work on the digital safety of pupils and another series of activities were thus proposed that not only involved the tutors but as many members of the educational community as possible. As our school is very active in collaborative projects, I suggested starting an eTwinning project on the subject of digital safety, which in addition to meeting the objectives of our tutorial action plan included a more international perspective by involving other European schools interested in working on the same subject.
That’s how, thanks to my contacts in eTwinning, I met some teachers who were looking for more partners to create a project on digital safety. They already had an approved project that contained a good work plan tailored to our needs, with an equitable distribution of tasks that expected realistic and adequate results.
- Activities proposed/devised are aimed at training pupils to be digital citizens (responsible use of devices and the Internet, Internet norms of behaviour – especially in social networks, respect for users, rights and responsibilities in a virtual environment)
- Activities proposed/devised that encourage critical thinking, reflection, judgment, especially in the context of the Internet and social networks.
We’ve established a plan of activities throughout the year, but in addition to those that belong exclusively to the project, each school has produced others within its local scope that it has then shared in the project with other partners. All the activities are registered in the TwinSpace or in the external links that have included the schools in the platform.
To carry out this project we’ve taken into account project-based learning and cooperation among pupils. The teachers divided the pupils into transnational work groups and then used the forum and their Twinspace messaging service to make contact with each other and learn more about the partners they were going to work with. Then the students had to work together on a research project on one of the aspects of online safety and use of technological devices. We chose the use of mobile phones, cyberbullying and video games. Based on this, pupils had to work collaboratively using the documents in Google Docs to delve further into the subject that they then had to expand on and explain to the rest. To do this they had a series of resources such as the worksheets available at www.webwewant.eu, thanks to which we were able to work on subjects such as the rights and duties of Internet users, netiquette, social networks, privacy and copyright. We also participated in the Safer Internet Day (SID) 2016, thanks to the support provided by the www.chaval.es platform with a series of fun activities with the SmartPrivial app and by setting up classroom blogs in technology classes. In order to know how their European project partners used the network, pupils mainly used the online collaborative questionnaires that we’ve made available to them from the TwinSpace, and which have been the reference documents to subsequently produce the final presentations. We’ve also participated in the “Digital Natives Forum” initiative promoted by the Regional Ministry of Education to raise awareness among teenagers about the responsible use of ICTs and the Internet and thanks to which we have selected tutor pupils at our school who are responsible for transmitting their Digital safety knowledge to other pupils. Our project was included in this activity in which more groups participated, but it was our eTwinning pupils who were appointed “international tutor pupils”, a title that acknowledged their publicising work in both the Digital Natives project and in eTwinning.
Teachers that were part of the project also carried out a second line of work in which we agreed and drew up a “Digital Action Plan” summarizing the most important aspects of cybersafety at our school. In order to prepare this common plan the first thing that we had to do was produce a needs analysis on the subject of the project. We then had a series of resources so that each school could assess, according to their needs, which aspects should be improved or in which ones we could contribute a positive experience for others. Throughout the project we saw what the strengths and weaknesses of esafety policies at our schools were, and this is how we produced this “Digital Action Plan” for everyone, which can be considered as a school working document and allows protocols to be activated in specific cases arising from the use of new technologies. To prepare these documents we used materials and resources that are on the www.esafetylabel.eu. website. This platform awarded us the digital safety silver label certification for our effort and interest in making our school safer and promoting good habits in the use of new technologies.
What role have the school/staff/teacher(s) had in the project towards educating students to be part of a responsible citizenship (e.g. teaching them to prevent risks in the publication of personal information, in comments …)?
As I said earlier, this project is directly related to the Tutorial Action Plan at our school and the “Digital Natives” programme, aimed at the entire educational community. The management team and the orientation department have been very helpful in organizing talks to both pupils and parents given by cybersafety experts (police, ICT consultants…) and in the dissemination and visibility of results obtained. Many teachers have joined the experience of using those resources mentioned above in their tutoring classes and have willingly accepted that there is a protocol in the event of incidents related to digital security. The Department of Technology has increased the presence of resources and indications on the proper use of new technologies on the school website, http://iessanjosevillanueva.blogspot.com.es/p/blog-page.html, and the tutor teachers responsible for promoting basic aspects of digital citizenship now have more resources at their disposal and better training to give their classes on digital citizenship to pupils.
How does this eTwinning project promote digital citizenship? What spaces and tools in the platform contribute more effectively to training in digital citizenship? Is there any difference in how this subject is treated in the countries of your European partners with respect to Spain? What are the differences, similarities?
This project promotes digital citizenship among young Europeans through the use of certain ICT tools and TwinSpace, which is where the whole process of exchanging materials, opinions and ideas takes place. Through collaborative learning both pupils and teachers increase their knowledge of the risks involved in the use of the Internet and create protocols that are valid for a school environment. These protocols are established on two levels: the first involves disseminating the results obtained by the research work, offering a European view of a problem linked to the use of the Internet/new technologies and possible solutions by the pupils; the second level is the digital safety plan developed jointly by the teachers that sets out the guidelines for each school and helps to solve possible incidents such as cyberbullying, theft of personal information online or not respecting the privacy of third parties. This framework not only suggests what to do in such cases but also guides the staff at the school, setting clear guidelines that must be followed to ensure that we all make responsible use of new technologies. These suggestions are contained in two documents that each school can add to its Annual General Plan: Rules for Acceptable Use by Staff and Rules for Acceptable Use by Pupils.
A very interesting part of the project is the comparison with several countries, thus revealing the differences that exist between young Europeans when it comes to using the Internet. Thanks to Google Docs we were able to produce a series of questionnaires whose data we later added to the presentations. We were able to see that almost all young Europeans use their telephone for almost the same purposes and that they spend the same amount of time on the Internet. The social networks to which they have access are mainly Facebook and Twitter although the use of the latter was not widespread among Spanish pupils, who used Whatsapp much more. With respect to the use of mobile phones, it was revealing that many of them slept with their mobiles in their room, something that seemed normal to them, but thanks to successive discussions in class they soon realized that this attitude showed that they never switched off from their phone and they always needed to keep them close. Another example is cyberbullying, a problem that all the pupils in the project already knew something about and they even knew someone who had suffered it. After their participation in the project, pupils learned more about netiquette and how to behave on the Internet so as not to give rise to misunderstandings and difficult situations. They also learned what to do when faced with a cyberbully and what measures can be taken.
The results of the questionnaires and presentations are available in our TwinSpace. The competency that has also been present throughout the project is digital. Within the DIGCOMP framework we’ve worked on the following aspects of area 4 relating to safety:
4.1 Protection of devices: pupils already know about basic protection of their electronic devices and those of others.
4.2 Protection of personal information and digital identity: pupils are aware of the dangers of using the Internet. They show respect for the privacy of others and are able to implement a protocol in case of cyberbullying.
4.3 Health protection. Pupils learn how to avoid health risks arising from the use of digital technology that threaten their physical and mental integrity.
How have the families of pupils contributed to their training as active citizens? On a scale of 1 to 10, and in general terms, what “digital Citizen level” would these families have? Do they have any training in this area?
Families have also been very involved in this project. To begin with, I had to get in touch with them to explain what an eTwinning project was and what we were going to do in class. Given the theme of the project, I asked the families to collaborate, mainly to use audiovisual material in which their children appeared and to allow them to use the Internet to do searches about the project. I also asked them to collaborate to help their children from home, going online with them and providing their opinions as parents on the subjects they had to research.
An example of the good collaboration and involvement of families is the talk given by the teacher Francisco Manuel Cano Arroyo on the dependence on the mobile phone and its consequences. This interesting intervention was promoted by the Parents Association at our school, which from the outset wanted to join the project and participate in the dissemination of activities. In talks like this one and through a series of interviews it became clear that the level of knowledge of families about new technologies and their dangers is very diverse. Almost all parents knew about cyberbullying and were aware of how their children used mobile phones and social networks, but very few knew how to manage a firewall or set security passwords. So this type of training in families is as necessary as it is among the pupils and it’s something that has been evident thanks to projects like this and the interest of families in participating. On the proposed scale families would be between 5 and 6, since many of them limit themselves for example to establishing hours of use of the mobile, video game consoles or the Internet but very few know how to control the contents that their children have access to.
Has the idea that the pupils had, before and after doing the project/activities, changed regarding the rules of behaviour on the Internet?
- COMMUNICATION (mobiles, grammar, texts, abbreviations, idioms,…
- RESPONSIBILITY (downloads, copyright, music, copies, images …)
- RIGHTS (about their own publications …)
- ERGONOMICS (physical damage, strained vision, poor posture ….)
Participating in an eTwinning project can become a very productive classroom experience, with many benefits for pupils and teachers. In our case, we must emphasize the high degree of involvement of the pupils in carrying out the project tasks and in demonstrating the skills acquired from the research work to their classmates. Pupils not only know more about cybersafety and the use of mobile phones, for example, but they also realize that group work and the exchange of ideas or experiences are very important when it comes to seeing the reality that surrounds us from a broader perspective. Now they know how their Europeans colleagues use their mobile devices and that they have the capacity to intervene in conflicts and know how they can be solved. They have become “tutor pupils” whose mission is to help others use ICTs responsibly, report abuse and know how to react in time to a potential problem. It’s the job of the teachers who’ve participated in this project to make ‘Better Internet than Sorry’ a sustainable project that inspires more staff and actively involves them in making our school a safer place for everyone.
What impact has the project/activities (or the theme of the project, or any specific activity) had on the staff? Is there greater awareness of Internet behaviour? Do they take more precautions, of what type? Are bad actions corrected? Have new protocols been established? Has the layout of furniture in the computer room changed, for example?
The impact of the project can also be measured in the teaching staff, although this will be the year when we can really assess whether all the material we have produced is useful. As we already said, one of our achievements as a transnational team is the publication of Rules for Acceptable Use by staff, a set of rules that each teacher has to agree to follow to achieve an acceptable use of ICTs and thus ensure a safe working and educational environment. The Digital Safety Plan that each school has developed according to its circumstances and characteristics will be integrated into the working documentation for the school and will help both the integration of ICTs in the annual general plan and in the tutorial action plan.
Upon receiving the silver safety certification from www.eusafetylabel.eu our school must agree to maintain certain standards in keeping with the category that this platform has given us and we’ve set ourselves the objective for this year of continuing with our work in terms of cybersafety and digital citizenship in order to achieve the next category and thus gain some recognition for our efforts and work.
Francisco Miguel García
IES SAN JOSÉ (Villanueva de la Serena, Badajoz)