Christopher McGilvery, an Angelo State University lecturer, recommends one approach that can help teachers demonstrate and guide students in learning how to use technology ethically. He offers the acronym TECH SMART as an option for helping students navigate the ethical waters of their digital world.
Take care of technology equipment.
With malware and viruses running rampant, students must learn to watch what they download, click and share.
Explore appropriate and safe sites for learning and research.
Many websites contain inaccurate or false information. Teachers can provide a list of approved websites. Students need to learn how to evaluate websites and assess whether they can trust the content.
Copyright law, Fair Use Act and Creative Commons matter.
Students learn how to copy and paste without realizing the copyright implications. Understanding copyright and related laws will help ensure students follow the rules in using and sharing content.
Help prevent cyberbullying.
The anonymity of the internet and not seeing faces makes it easy to “say” things one would not utter in person. Teaching students about cyberbullying requires discussing not only its definition but also how hurtful and damaging it can be. Give examples of cyberbullying and encourage students to report any cyberbullying incident to teachers, counselors, administrators or their parents.
Self-image is important.
Without seeing faces, people can easily overshare in a digital world. Kids need to learn how future employers look up candidates’ social media accounts to see how they represent themselves in public.
Make use of netiquette.
Netiquette comprises the rules of an online community. Sloppy writing in online forums, device distraction while in conversation, and sending of unsolicited emails are a few examples of poor netiquette. Learners need to understand what makes good and bad netiquette and why.
Always give credit to original source.
Like citing references in term papers, students learn about the importance of using online citations to respect copyright laws and eschew plagiarism.
Remember to be effective, thoughtful and ethical digital creators.
Teachers can incorporate assignments that use digital tools in the classroom. This allows students to learn how to use technology responsibly with teacher oversight.
Teachers can integrate TECH SMART into their lesson plans and encourage students to think about technology’s purpose in all digital interactions.
The rapid pace of technology advancement makes it challenging for people to evaluate the ethical ramifications of their actions in the digital space. Understanding ethical issues of technology in the classroom and remembering TECH SMART helps students become ethical citizens in a digital world.
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