Engage students with the concept of a ‘rule’ and why rules are important. One way to this is to play a game without first introducing rules. For example, in a ‘paperclip game’ students form into two teams. The aim of the game is for one team to win the most paperclips from a central pile.
With no rules, students will be confused and ask how to play. Repeat the aim of the game and see how students respond. Do they get frustrated or do they attempt to create their own rules?
After a few minutes, use the experience to discuss the need for rules and what happens without them.
Lead discussions around the concept of rules and safety, why they are needed, and how rules help us to work within the boundaries of what is acceptable and safe. How do the students know what to do when crossing the road? When do they have to go to bed and why? What other rules can they think of and why do they exist?
Give each student a packet of sticky notes. Explain that, individually, they should write down as many different dangers as they can think of that they might experience online or when using technology. Ensure that there is only one idea per sticky note. Display a timer set to an agreed duration. Expected student examples may include: visiting an inappropriate site, getting a computer virus, being bullied, giving away personal details, dropping a tablet/laptop, etc.
Form groups based on ‘tech’ usage, with the aim to get a spread across each group. A way to do this is to line up in a continuum from limited technology use to extensive use. Once the line is formed, number off 1–5. Each of the five groups will then have students with a range of online and tech use experience.
Explain the concept of an ‘affinity map’. An affinity map, or an affinity diagram, is a tool that helps organise a large numbers of ideas, opinions and issues, placing them into groupings based on their common relationships.
In their groups, students combine their sticky notes to create an affinity map on the surface of their table. Ask them to:
Review each group’s affinity map. Look for common themes and those that are unique to a group. Explain that each group’s ideas will contribute to a collaborative map. A whiteboard is a useful place for documenting and collating ideas.
Take turns for groups to add one idea to the collaborative map (but without repeating previous ideas). Continue this process until all ideas are recorded.
Expected themes might include cybersafety (sharing of identity, etc), bullying (cyberbullying), care of equipment, appropriate use of equipment, appropriate online behavior (searching acceptable material), digital footprint (reputation), and verification of information (checking of information).
Organise a way for students to create rules for each identified theme. In pairs or small groups you may consider using Padlet, or another online tool like it. This is a free tool that allows students to collaborate in an online space in real time by placing 'virtual sticky notes' around topics. Each sticky note could define the rule.
Once the student-created rules have been shared and reviewed, compare them to the school’s ICT agreement, which will contain a set of rules and behaviours that students agree to abide by.
Use this approach, or a variation of it, before having the students sign the school's official ICT agreement.
When students make a commitment to behaving responsibly when using ICT, you may also decide to use the version that students created.
One of the key concepts within the Digital Technologies curriculum is Interactions and impacts. The interactions and impacts concept focuses on all aspects of human interaction with and through information systems, and on the enormous potential for positive and negative economic, environmental and social impacts enabled by these systems. It involves appreciating the transformative potential of digital systems in people’s lives. It also involves consideration of the relationship between information systems and society – in particular the ethical and legal obligations of individuals and organisations regarding ownership and privacy of data and information.
A key understanding underpinning digital citizenship is the idea of responsible ICT use and engagement in online spaces. Technology is an embedded part of 21st-century life, and it is essential that students understand how to engage responsibly in online spaces. This includes understanding what to do when they accidentally stumble upon a website that is not appropriate for them to view, and how to socialise in an acceptable manner with their peers in an online setting.
Responsible ICT use also means that students have a good understanding of how to care for and respect the devices and hardware that they work with.
All schools have ICT agreements that students and parents have to sign in order to use the technology in that particular school setting. That is why it is important for students to be familiar with, and understand, these agreements before they use the technology. This learning sequence seeks to familiarise students not only with the content of the ICT agreement but with the rationale behind the creation of the agreement. Allowing students to have access to the 'why' behind the agreement helps students to internalise the concepts underpinning responsible digital citizenship, and serves to ensure that students will actually follow the rules and protocols outlined within it.