4 Characteristics of a God-Honoring Digital Citizen
By: Alyssa Mendez
During this period of social distancing that has resulted in web-based learning for many schools, here are four characteristics students can embody to serve as good digital citizens and Christian witnesses in their virtual classrooms.
With many students taking to virtual classrooms during this unique time in our society, proper online etiquette will play an important role to ensure that these are respectful and orderly spaces where students can continue their education and teachers can instruct with limited distractions.
Distance learning experiences will likely consist of synchronous (live) education, asynchronous (recorded or posted lessons) education, or a combination of both. Whatever the case, digital citizenship should be upheld in the same way there are certain rules and expectations in a live classroom setting.
digital citizenship should be upheld in the same way there are certain rules and expectations in a live classroom setting.
1 Corinthians 14:33 says, “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the meetings of God’s holy people.” A Google Hangout with your class certainly counts as a meeting of God’s holy people! So what do God-honoring digital citizens look like, practically speaking? They are:
When communicating with teachers and peers, the words you choose to type or verbally state should be kind and edifying. When contributing to web-based discussions, whether they are live or not, your comments should add value and be rooted in respect.
Being well-mannered also involves creating a virtual environment that allows your classmates to learn without distractions. Make sure you are working in a quiet space without too much background noise; if there’s no way to avoid that, simply mute your microphone until you need to speak. And remember, if your webcam is on, everyone in the chat will be able to see your face, so be sure your facial expressions are not causing a disruption to the class.
You will be responsible for keeping track of your assignments for each class. Be sure to check your school’s main online platform daily so you can stay on top of deadlines. During this highly digital time, going “old school” by using a tangible planner can serve as an effective and mentally refreshing way to visualize what needs to get done. Here are some you can order from the comfort of your couch if you don’t own one already! Whiteboards are another great option for monitoring daily and weekly assignments.
Responsible digital citizens are also punctual ones! Make sure you’re meeting deadlines that have been set by your teachers and showing up to live chat sessions at the scheduled times. Logging on late can be a distraction to your classmates who are already engaged in the lesson.
An engaged attitude is especially important in an online setting
When I think of being a “good citizen” in general, I think of someone who is engaged and communicative — someone who speaks up to share their thoughts and takes positive action. An engaged attitude is especially important in an online setting because a class discussion can’t happen without your participation!
If your teacher is asking a question, don’t hesitate to respond. I’m in a fully online master’s program at the moment, and it’s always awkward when the teacher poses a question and all you hear is crickets . . . I get it. No one wants to be the first person to answer, or be the same person to keep answering, or perhaps you’re just introverted and find this whole talking to a camera thing very uncomfortable. I promise your distance learning experience will be so much more enjoyable once you and your peers get over that hump of hesitation. This may not even be an issue for your classes, to which I say, awesome! Let the rich learning and dialogue continue.
Just because you’re separated physically from your teachers and peers doesn’t mean you have to fly solo. We should be leaning on each other and relying on our school community for academic, spiritual, and emotional support, which is just as valuable in the virtual form.
Are you tech savvy and are gifted with figuring out new programs quickly? Perhaps you can help a classmate who’s having a difficult time understanding the new technology. You can also check in with your friends and keep each other accountable to make sure you’re staying on top of assignments, understanding the material, and simply to see how they’re doing.
Your teachers are also here to help you during this unique time. Don’t hesitate to ask them questions, and be sure to proactively communicate any information they ought to know in advance like absences or any other personal conflicts.
One attribute that didn’t make the list but I believe encompasses all four of these characteristics is wisdom. A wise digital citizen is ultimately well-mannered, responsible, engaged, supportive, and most importantly, connected to God — the source of all knowledge, power, strength, and peace. The good news is that we can get wisdom by simply asking God for it (James 1:5). I invite you to say a quick prayer, asking the Lord for wisdom as you begin this new digital journey. He's got your back and cares for you!
Alyssa Mendez joined the CCA family this year and serves as the Content Specialist on the Marketing and Communications team. She is a UF grad, wife to a chef, and proud dog mom to one of this year’s CCA Auction puppies named Sadie. Alyssa is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Leadership at Nova Southeastern University and will be graduating from the program this June.
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