The integration of futuristic education methods with advanced technology has brought about a significant paradigm shift, empowering schools to establish a novel learning environment for children. The National Education Policy 2020 envisages leveraging the existing digital infrastructure and creating a blended learning environment. There is an emphasis on creating virtual labs for students to bring in engagement and participation. The e-learning platform also has made students technologically savvy with mobiles, iPads and other devices. Therefore, schools in the present era are faced with the need to join the digital revolution and help students understand how to be responsible digital citizens.
One of the famous computer scientists and pioneers of artificial intelligence, Seymour Papert, once said, “You can't teach people everything they need to know. The best you can do is position them where they can find what they need to know when they need to know it.” Students have now explored ways to educate themselves through various channels like YouTube, ChatGPT and other online services provided by many educational groups. Schools of today encounter a huge challenge of training professionals who can create optimal blended learning environments.
Developing safe online practices starts with the training of teachers. Equipping learning with best practices while using the online landscape is one of education's most critical components and can be improved over time through conscious efforts. Students need to be trained to be responsible digital citizens through the conscious use of the internet. Teachers can prove to be effective agents of change to meet this end. More specifically, students need to be trained about privacy, cyberbullying, scamming, phishing and other threats of online usage. Additionally, teaching students to use the Internet effectively can significantly improve their communication skills.
What we can do - Digital Citizenship Program
At the No.1 Air Force School Gwalior, we have a number of strategies used by teachers:
Following a specific video-based curriculum which helps educate students from classes 1 to 12 on online safety and privacy
Creating discussion forums about safe online practices, where students complete assignments, write essays and take part in declamation contests; for example, is ChatGPT safe for students?
Conducting poster-making competitions on digital safety
Conducting workshops by cyber security experts to train students on how to stay safe from cyberbullies, how to safeguard their privacy and how to create a positive online presence
Using lesson plans to teach copyrights, trademarks and intellectual property rights
Forming a “Cyber Club” to expose students to app development, website designing and security coding activities; hosting sessions on cloud security and threats
Hosting video-making competitions on topics of digital safety as a part of the Tech Fest
Using online assessment platforms to assess students’ awareness of cybersecurity
Offering vocational courses like ‘Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, ‘Advanced syllabus on Python’ and ethical practices on creating threat detection and bug detection tools for classes IX and X
Creating digital certification modules and encouraging students to join these courses and earn digital badges
Conducting parents’ awareness campaigns on parental controls and how to create a safe online learning environment at home by IT department teachers
These sessions help the children in fostering critical thinking, a collaborative approach to learning and developing a problem-solving attitude in today’s competency-based education era.
What is the scope of these sessions?
We should make sure that some basic aspects of the online world should be institutionalised and enforced. Some of these are:
Sharing content on social media should be done after considering its implications
Online presence leaves a digital footprint which can enable cyber attackers to trace name, location and other information
Exploring privacy controls and their benefits
Creating awareness about cyberbullies and the kind of information they trace through social engineering.
Updating passwords frequently and how to create a strong password which cannot be traced by hackers
Educating children to never login through public computers, and to log out if done Conducting sessions on not to share personal photos or photos which incites any kind of discrimination or issue which can lead to attacks by cyberbullies
Educating students to create a positive online presence through chosen words in chats and never to engage themselves to chat with strangers
Creating awareness about reporting to parents regarding any illegal or aggressive behaviour of any person in an online platform
With the fast-pacing world and an excessive dependence on technology, responsible digital citizenship must be a part of the ethical practices of the schools. If schools are focussing on increasing digital competencies through ed-tech and smart classrooms, then digital citizenship should be made as part of the school curricula. Through this approach we can create a generation of ethical digital citizens who ensure a positive digital footprint in the cyber world.
“Education of today should create self-aware citizens of tomorrow”