Digital Citizenship is a concept which helps teachers, technology leaders and parents to understand what students/children/technology users should know to use technology appropriately. Digital Citizenship is more than just a teaching tool; it is a way to prepare students/technology users for a society full of technology. Too often we are seeing students as well as adults misusing and abusing technology but not sure what to do. The issue is more than what the users do not know but what is considered appropriate technology usage.
Digital citizenship can be defined as the norms of appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use:
- Digital Etiquette: electronic standards of conduct or procedure
- Digital Communication: electronic exchange of information
- Digital Literacy: process of teaching and learning about technology and the use of technology
- Digital Access: full electronic participation in society
- Digital Commerce: electronic buying and selling of goods
- Digital Law: electronic responsibility for actions and deeds
- Digital Rights & Responsibilities: those freedoms extended to everyone in a digital world
- Digital Health & Wellness: physical and psychological well-being in a digital technology world
- Digital Security (self-protection): electronic precautions to guarantee safety
Generally, employees and students think of best practices only in the sense of electronic mail and internet use. It must be understood that any Acceptable Use Policy also extends to: computer hardware and peripherals; software; network access; storage devices: databases, files, and other repositories of information in electronic form. Best practice applies to use while onsite and when using remote access (from home, conferences, while traveling, etc.).
Information technology is provided to employees with the following expectations:
- Productivity will increase. Work products can be produced and services can be delivered with more accuracy in less time with added value and, in most cases, at less cost.
- Decision-makers will have rapid access to more complete and accurate information.
- Communication among staff, between the staff and their customers, and with the public will improve. Services and information will be more widely and equitably accessible.
- Public employees and public organizations will be more accountable.
It must be understood that appropriate use of electronic mail should draw from standards for student and employee communication which already exist. For instance:
- Do not send or attach documents containing pornographic, obscene, or sexually explicit material.
- Do not transmit obscene, abusive or sexually explicit language.
- Do not use electronic mail for communications which are not directly related to instruction, sanctioned school activities, or a person's job .
- Do not use electronic mail, for instance, for private business or personal, non-work related communications.
- Do not access, copy or transmit another's messages without permission.
- Do not create, forward or share spam or chain letters.
- Do not use electronic mail for creation or forwarding of jokes or humor that can be found offensive to others.
- Do not send electronic communications that contain ethnic slurs, racial epithets or anything that could be construed as harassment or abuse of others based on race, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability or religious or political beliefs.
Employees must be aware that electronic mail logs, the content of electronic mail, Internet access logs, and the content of Internet sessions may be subject to inspection under the open records laws and are not necessarily private. Employees should remember that electronic mail, Internet access, and other resources are provided for the purpose of carrying out assigned work.
Confidentiality and Security of Information
As a result of the passing of HB341 during the regular legislative session in the spring of 2006, the Kentucky Department of Education and all public school districts were required to conduct a study of the requirements for data security and develop a notification process when a breach of data security occurs. Employees and students need to understand special safety cautions, which are again analogous to common practice:
- Students should not reveal their name and personal information to or establish relationships with "strangers" on the network, unless the communication has been coordinated by a parent or teacher.
- The school should not reveal a student's personal identity unless the parent has given written consent.
- The school should not transmit a student's work or picture with personally identifiable information without written parental consent.
- Employees should use discretion when accessing and potentially making electronic and/or paper copies of sensitive data. This includes storing personally identifiable data on personal or school-issued devices (e.g. laptop, thumb drive, smart phone, etc...)
Employees and students must understand that internet searching and activity that involves inappropriate material is prohibited in accordance with Senate Bill 230 and 701 KAR 5:120. Activities that are considered inappropriate include but are not limited to:
- Visiting websites such as pornographic, obscene, sexually explicit, jokes, gambling, gossip (e.g. Topix), etc., that are not work related.
- Downloading of inappropriate material including pornographic, obscene, sexually explicit, music/audio that is copyright protected.
- Internet surfing for personal purposes such as shopping, banking, research for personal purposes, online auctions (e.g. eBay), sports message boards, etc.
Use of Technology
Employees and students must understand that technology (e.g. computer, printers, peripherals, external hard drives, thumb drives, etc.) used in the school and work environment are for work and learning related purposes. Computers, while they may be assigned to an individual in the case of employees or student in 1 to 1 initiatives are not intended for uses that are personal in nature such as:
- Games are not to be installed or played on employee or student computers. The Internet is not to be used for the playing of games or participation in contests.
- Computers are not to be used to store photos, video, music, audio files, etc. of a personal nature. Doing so uses precious storage space that is needed for learning and work related purposes and can be in violation of copyright laws in some cases.
In general, it is usually helpful to ask oneself these questions if you are not sure whether the way you are using technology violates the Appropriate Use Policy:
- Am I violating any other laws, regulations or policies? Have I protected individual privacy rights?
- Is this directly in support of my job duties and responsibilities? Does the way I am using technology adversely impact the productivity of others without good cause?
- If someone observed me doing this, either a colleague or member of the public, would I be uncomfortable? Would it give the impression that I was not doing my job or that this organization was misusing public funds?
- If I'm saying it in email, would I say it in person?
Next: Acceptable Use Policy Consideration for Districts
Guidelines for Creating Acceptable Use Policies