One of the best ways to promote positive online student behavior is to have incorporate digital citizenship into learning. Help students understand the importance of being good digital citizens by following these steps to get student buy-in rather than passing down a mandate that they don’t care much about.
Explain the importance
As instructors and school administrators, it’s easy to fall into the habit of saying “these are the rules” and expecting students to follow them willingly. However, most of us would agree that this is not a good way to get students actually to follow the rules. Take some time to explain to students why the rules exist. Help them understand that there are serious risks associated with misbehaving online. Share with them the risks and stress that the rules are in place to help.
Give students a seat at the table
There is some pride in having a sense of ownership. Of course, it probably isn’t wise to have students construct the rules on their own. Consider letting them be a part of the conversation. Hear them out and take their suggestions into real consideration. More than likely they will come up with some ideas to add to your policy.
Breakdown the privacy myth
It will likely be difficult for them to admit, but there’s no such thing as privacy on the Internet. It’s that simple. Make sure students truly understand that nothing is private. Everyone behaves a little differently when there’s no privacy.
Remind students of their brand
Reputation is everything, and an online reputation can follow someone forever. Give students real-life examples of individuals who have tarnished reputations due to their online activity. Help them face the fact that clicking delete doesn’t mean gone forever. And now with the culture of screenshots, there’s even more reason to be careful.
Set consequences and enforce them
Unfortunately, there is just no getting around the students who will test the waters. Rules, reputation and even privacy concerns just won’t steer some students away from misbehaving online. When a student violates the policy, you’ve got to stand firm on the consequences.
The risks of misbehaving online are real and serious. Being a good digital citizen is something that will impact students far into their adulthood. Help students get in the habit of setting appropriate passwords and being careful where they hang out online. Help them understand that it’s not OK to post everything that comes to mind. Take these steps to ensure that students know the risks and buy into becoming good digital citizens.