By: Christina Samek, Marketing Specialist.

There are probably several moments in your life as an educator where you’ve thought, “Well, I wasn’t quite prepared for this.” I know because most of us have felt that way. No matter how hard we prepare, how many certifications we’ve received, how many courses we’ve taken, there will still be moments where we doubt what we know. Moments where we don’t know what to say. Now, more than ever, in perhaps one of the most divisive times in history, how do you prepare your students for a future shaped by it? What do you say?

Digital citizenship means embracing a new heritage

When you are young, you don’t realize the scope of your words and actions. That is realized with time and maturity. Most of us reading this are lucky enough to have our younger selves tucked away, maybe in an old diary or long gone instant message boards, safe from curious eyes. Our students don’t have that luxury. A lot of their growing up will happen behind screens, recorded for the rest of their lives. They are digital citizens and this is their new heritage.

Teaching students about digital citizenship, we highlight the permanence of their actions. You encourage them to use ethical and safe behaviors in their online interactions. You discuss what belongs to them and what doesn’t. You tell them to be careful. And then, maybe, you take a deep breath and hope it all sinks in.

Navigating the digital landscape in the classroom

Cruelty isn’t new. What’s new is how prevalent it seems because of the 24/7 access we have to each other. There is a false sanctity of screens. You feel safe because you cannot see how much your words may hurt. How do you teach children about what that kind of hurt can do? I work for a digital company and that has given me so much joy. I get to see what digital content can do and how it impacts learning. I get to see it reach kids who previously weren’t readers because the technology supports their kind of learning. I get to see the kind of good digital can do.

We can’t stop the digital age from thriving. As I said before, this is the new heritage. I don’t have the answers. Honestly, I don’t know what to say. But I do know we need you, educators and media specialists, more than ever. Because, thank goodness for you. You are are on the battleground of this new landscape and you can prepare your students for the future they are designing for all of us. And beyond anything else, know we believe in you.

If you are interested in how you can use OverDrive to strengthen your lessons on digital citizenship and learning, let us know. We’ve never stopped listening to you.