Most of today's students are entirely comfortable with technology, but are they using it appropriately? Do they understand their roles and responsibilities in a digital society? What if students don't follow these rules? Faced with these challenges, two Nebraska school districts collaboratively implemented a class called STOPiT, a proactive approach to teaching the importance of digital citizenship. The acronym stands for Smart Topics on Personal iPad Technology.
With 24/7 technology access for students, both districts felt a need to hold students accountable for their online and electronic behaviors.
STOPiT is a mandatory course offered by Cozad High School (CHS) and Grand Island Northwest High School (GINW) to students who have violated the districts' Responsible/Acceptable Use Policies (RUP/AUP). Each school implemented 1-to-1 mobile devices (iPads) in the 2012-13 school year. With 24/7 technology access for students, both districts felt a need to hold students accountable for their online and electronic behaviors. Whether it's gaming during class, social media use, or online searching, students needed an opportunity to learn digital responsibility. Cozad High School began the STOPiT class in the fall of 2012. In the fall of 2013, GINW joined the program as well. Connecting, collaboration, and creativity between the two schools has resulted in a successful program for both districts.
Regardless of how you teach the importance of a positive digital presence, students will make mistakes. Responding to these "teachable moments" is key.
Regardless of how you teach the importance of a positive digital presence, students will make mistakes. Responding to these "teachable moments" is key. STOPiT gives students opportunities to reflect on various avenues of digital citizenship, learn strategies for using social media and devices responsibly, and focus on ways to mold an online presence they can be proud of.
STOPiT is a monthly class planned and facilitated by Patty Wolfe (Cozad Community Schools) and me (Northwest Public Schools). Students receiving "STOPiT Tickets" for violating AUP/RUP are enrolled and expected to attend the hour-long session. Most tickets are issued by a building administrator following a classroom referral process. There have been instances where a parent requested for a student to attend. The class lessons and projects aim to model and help kids practice positive digital citizenship and device use. Lessons and projects are available at www.stopitclass.org. In addition to the class, a follow-up project is required for completion.
One of the most important aspects of this class is collaboration. The collaboration between the CHS and GINW facilitators showcases the amazing potential available across school districts. Several projects have also involved collaboration between the students. Using tools such as Google Hangouts and Google Drive, students can actively participate in discussions, collaborate with others, and see endless possibilities available with the tools they have at their fingertips. The collaborative environment truly gives students "real-life" application.
Having an opportunity to teach and reflect on situations connected to device and social media use has proved to be successful. Not only have enrollment numbers decreased, but students are also holding others accountable and making more choices that reflect a positive digital presence. For more information and resources about the STOPiT class, please visit www.stopitclass.org.