LPS steps up efforts to address digital citizenship

Lincoln Public Schools has long placed an emphasis on teaching digital citizenship, which means the appropriate and responsible use of technology. This covers a wide range of topics - everything from cyberbullying to password security to online shopping.

However, starting this school year, LPS has launched an initiative that takes a more deliberate and uniform approach to this important topic - one that seems to grow in importance along with the number of devices in our homes and schools.

“This initiative specifically defines the elements we feel our students need to know to be safe and responsible citizens and provides resources for schools to reinforce the instruction that has already been woven into the different curriculum areas,” said LPS Director of Library Media Services Chris Haeffner.

The Library Media Services Department spent months collaborating and planning with colleagues from a variety of areas - special education, computing services, student services and curriculum. The result, Haeffner said, is a detailed set of key concepts for students to learn at the elementary, middle school and high school levels.

Each school’s librarian will work closely with teachers to consistently integrate short lessons about digital citizenship into their lesson plans. For example, at Lincoln Northeast High School, each Tuesday during third period there will be a ten-minute lesson in which every student learns the same material on digital citizenship.

Northeast Librarian Jeanette Dorn said teachers presented the first lesson in mid-September and she’s already received positive feedback.

“Digital citizenship has its value in having kids think before they do something impulsive. We want them to be aware that things they do might hinder them from getting a job if an employer is checking out their Facebook or Instagram account,” Dorn said. “We want students to be aware that there are serious consequences for online bullying. Students need to know what to do if their accounts have been hacked and passwords compromised. We want our students to be good citizens.”

Added Haeffner: “While our focus is digital citizenship, we really can't distinguish between our students’ digital and non-digital lives. They are one and the same.”

Lincoln East High School Librarian Jane Holt said schools don’t give students algebra books or bunsen burners and wish them luck - and it should be no different with the electronic devices they use.

“Why would we neglect teaching them how to properly handle the tools and landscapes that make up their digital lives?” Holt said. “If we want them to know how to intelligently navigate their larger lives - whether physical or digital - we need to spend time teaching them about the elements that make up those worlds and how to use them in the best way possible.”

Published: October 31, 2018, Updated: October 31, 2018

"While our focus is digital citizenship, we really can't distinguish between our students’ digital and non-digital lives. They are one and the same."

LPS Director of Library Media Services Chris Haeffner