Developing Digital Citizenship through Mobile Communication

In the changing landscape of education, digital communication via text is one of the best tools for keeping students engaged, informed and connected. Teachers who embed technology in their curriculum, and not just as a supplemental part of the curriculum, will see students’ digital citizenship abilities grow.

In the Beginning

The text came in about midnight, “Mr. Soeth, I have an F, why am I failing your class?” I rolled over and looked at the text; I probably rolled my eyes, and put my phone in airplane mode till the next morning. I went through my normal routine the next day, and, about 8:00 A.M. (about a half hour before my school day starts) I replied to the midnight text, “(student name) I am happy to meet right now in the classroom or after school today to discuss your grade. I do not discuss student grades via text message.”

Our current generation is used to being connected to anyone and everyone they need at any time. No one has told our students that texting before a certain time or after a certain time is not okay. I use this story every year in my back-to-school training with students to set a foundation for expectations on communication and social interaction both in and out of class so kids develop their digital citizenship skills through mobile communication.

We Are Connected

When it comes to students and technology, I have one basic principle: kids are as good with technology as it socially enhances their lives. Kids need guidance and structure in the use of tech to be productive and to communicate effectively. Remind is a group texting app you can use to communicate with your class or your school.

I use Remind to connect with students and build on the relationships we have in class. For example, one of my first activities with Remind is a scavenger hunt. I hide an item in my class or on campus and text out a photo for kids to see who can find the item. I can use activities like this to create relationships and build trust through shared experiences. We are all connected in the digital world, we just need to engage each other.

Chat

The Remind app was recently updated to support a new feature called Chat. This is a safe and effective way for students to reach out and communicate with their teacher in a professional environment. In the beginning, my goal was to remind kids about tests, to bring their books and raise awareness on school events.

Now, with Chat, I can answer student questions when help is needed, hold contests where kids text in answers to questions for trivia or extra credit, clarify where help is needed and answer student questions on homework. Most importantly, with Chat, you, the teacher, are accessible. Remind is a tool for students to ask questions of the expert, hold discussions with the professional and seek guidance when help is needed. Students will appreciate teachers who effectively use this tool.

The Power of Digital Communication

In the changing landscape of education, digital communication via text is one of the best tools for keeping students engaged, informed and connected. Teachers who embed technology in their curriculum, and not just as a supplemental part of the curriculum, will see students’ digital citizenship abilities grow.

Talk to students about expectations and procedures for using technology. Once it is embedded into the classroom management plan, technology will be part of both students’ and teachers’ daily routine and students will begin to develop tech skills that they will find useful long after they have left the classroom.

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