A Day in the Life...

Students will be more responsible citizens online if they empathize with the viewpoints of the receiver and sender of digital information.

Photo of Nanami Sunaga
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A teacher can develop various scenarios and role-plays of situations that involve digital communication--they can be inspired from real life events, such as online bullying.  This activity can be done in pairs, and a script should be written for students to follow. 

 The teacher needs to emphasize that this activity is not intended to encourage negative online behaviors or to replicate them, but to build understanding, empathy, and trust. What is felt, discussed, or experienced during this experience needs to stay in the classroom.

Through acting and role playing, students will characterize and act out these different roles, and imagine what it might feel like to be on the sending end of digital information, and the receiving end of digital information. 

The students will switch roles so they can gain the perspectives of both sides. 

After the activity, students can reflect on how they felt while they played each role, and possibly how it connects to real-life experiences that they may have encountered. 

This can then lead to another design challenge, where students can use their findings from this activity to prototype an idea to bring better digital citizenship to their classroom or school community. 

Share research or student experiences that informed your idea!

The Shadow a Student Challenge from the d. School!


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Photo of Jennifer Gaspar- Santos

I like this idea of role-playing and then switching roles-- creative idea to help usher in empathy! I can see kids really getting into this activity.

Consider also having 2 students typing out tweets to each other online (but maybe you use a google doc as a pretend platform) then you project the google doc on the screen for the students (audience or class) to see. The kids can role play through their online communications with each other, like posting, texting, tweeting or writing an email and the class can see the students crafting their messages, tweets, emojis on the screen.

How do prevent the students from "giving us teachers what we want to see and hear" during this activity? What are some creative ways to capture their "real authentic feelings" ?

I often times struggle with the student who can articulate the correct behavior for digital citizenship but then when it comes down to the reality of a situation, they make poor choices.
Thoughts on this one?

Photo of Nanami Sunaga

I have this problem too in my classroom. I don’t think I have a straight answer for this one, but I will share my insights... it might have to do with how we build that safe and trusting space. I recently participated in this empathy activity called Challenge day, (check it out! https://www.challengeday.org/) and kids got to be themselves. We were in small groups and in a safe environment where kids can share their experiences. Kids were allowed to be share whatever they liked and be vulnerable without fear of bullying or retaliation. This was framed with the promise that whatever is stated in the room must stay in that room to protect students. I was a t first afraid that kids were not going to take it seriously (I teach middle school in south LA) but I was very wrong. The students took It very seriously and respected each other. Many students shared stories and even cried. I was astounded. All the students needed was a time and space to truly be heard! I felt that the students were transformed by this experience. They are more empathetic and aware of their actions. I see more caring behaviors. I think that the only way to truly change behaviors is for students to truly feel and experience. I think most students “know” the right answer and what we want to hear, but they truly don’t “know” until they feel and experience it themselves. I was hoping the role play could be a way to “experience” but framing it carefully within a trusting environment might be a challenge if kids don’t feel comfortable sharing the truth...maybe making some parts anonymous would be helpful. I love your idea of making tweets on a google doc. That can be made anonymous and kids might feel more comfortable to participate.

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