• Chettinad Sarvalokaa

Communication in the 21st Century Classroom

Communication is a critical part of our daily lives. And it's something that we often overlook and fail to give the appropriate attention that it deserves. In schools, we place a strong emphasis on literacy, but in the past the focus has been on reading and writing and usually academic reading and writing. We often overlook speaking, listening, nonverbal and other forms of communication. In his book Teaching the Core Skills of Listening and Speaking, educator Eric Palmer discusses the importance of incorporating these skills and outlines strategies that we can use to implement them. Does your school spend enough time teaching students speaking and listening skills? What about nonverbal communication skills? Also do you spend enough time teaching students about online communication and digital citizenship?


Digital citizenship and Digital footprints


Digital literacy and helping our students become more knowledgeable with the tools, terminology, and practices in the digital age is extremely important. A topic that may be even more important is ensuring that our students understand how to use these digital tools appropriately. This is known as digital citizenship and covers a wide range of topics from appropriate online etiquette, safety and security, privacy, digital rights, and equal access to digital tools.


We cannot afford to underestimate the importance of digital citizenship and our students' online behaviours.


Another important reason to teach students appropriate online behaviour is the impact it will have on their permanent record. We talk a lot in schools about getting kids career ready, but we often don't take the necessary steps to help them develop a strong, positive online profile and to teach them the consequences of inappropriate behaviours. According to a recent study by Jobvite, over 90% of recruiters view candidates' social profiles before hiring. According to a study by CareerBuilder, about 51% of managers have decided to pass on a candidate because of content they found online.


So what are these employers finding that would cause them to not hire a candidate? Well according to the same study, some of the most common reasons include posting inappropriate photographs or information, bad-mouthing others, people who are showing poor communication skills, having unprofessional screen names.


Does your school dedicate time to make sure students understand this? Does your school teach students how to appropriately communicate online?


In the digital age, our students are branding themselves when they're online. Their collective online behaviours and the content they put online is known as their Digital footprint, and it's increasingly important.


In the same CareerBuilder's study, 33% of hiring managers reported that they found things online that made them more likely to hire a candidate, and these numbers also continue to rise. They cited factors such as a personality that would fit with the company's culture, conveying a professional image, having a wide range of interests, being creative, and possessing good communication skills.


Also, as educators, we need to continuously model appropriate online behaviours, as well as consider other factors of Digital citizenship, such as whether or not our students have access to the digital tools to help them be successful in our class. Digital citizenship is a complex topic, and one that we must continue to learn more and more about in order to help educate our students.

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