What Role Does Digital Citizenship Play in Education?
What role do schools and teachers play when it comes to teaching about digital citizenship? As we know it, schools and teachers need to play a role in developing and preparing students to become digital citizens. In Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools, Dr. Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt state:
Supporting students at all grade levels and through all subjects to learn appropriate and responsible online behaviour through the integration of digital citizenship instruction will help ensure that children and youth in the digital age become responsible and principled digital citizens, capable of building and maintaining a positive digital footprint, respecting intellectual property boundaries and protecting their privacy online. Digital citizenship education is not intended to be a stand-alone unit, course or lesson, rather it is best learned and understood when taught in context through supported online practice and real-life examples and experiences.
– Dr. Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt
On March 3rd, we did an important activity to answer the question, what characteristics does a digital citizen have? We were tasked with the job of choosing the age/grade of a student and then discussing digital citizenship characteristics that we thought would be important for that student to know at their specific age/grade. We also looked at the supports, steps, and processes that would support the students and teachers in assisting them to reach those characteristics. This activity allowed us to realize how we can embed the important teachings and lessons of digital citizenship in our lessons. However, I also am beginning to really understand the broadness of the topic of digital citizenship. On something so broad it can be overwhelming for teachers to comprehend and as a result could turn them off of teaching about digital citizenship.
Where do Teachers Start When Teaching Digital Citizenship?
If teachers are new to teaching about digital citizenship I believe that it is important that teachers reach out for support from others, or to look at how to incorporate curricula that are already created. Some great resources that teachers can look into include:
- Commonsense Media – This resource provides teachers with lessons at their grade level on topics that are suitable for what they need to know at that age.
- Be Internet Awesome – A curriculum that teachers digital safety fundamentals, it is also paired with an interactive game called Interland.
- Media Smarts – a Canadian non-profit for digital and media literacy. Find lesson plans and resources related to digital and media literacy.
I believe that these resources provide opportunities for educators to determine what is important at certain age levels. I believe that the difficulty in implementing digital citizenship will be integrating it into what classrooms are already covering.
What are Important Skills I Would Teach?
I believe that some of the important skills are used in Mike Ribble’s Framework, on the 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship. In addition, ISTE also provides student standards one of which highlights their goals for digital citizenship. Much of my work as an Instructional Technology Consultant is framed around these standards. The skills include:
- Students manage their digital identities and recognize the permanence of their actions.
- Engage in positive, safe, legal and ethical behaviour when using technology.
- Understanding and respect the rights and obligations of using and sharing intellectual property.
- Manage personal data, and are aware of how the data is used to track their navigations online.
However, Vicki Davis also known as the coolcatteacher on Twitter highlights her approach to Digital Citizenship. She breaks it down into two categories, Proactive Knowledge and Experiential Knowledge. Proactive Knowledge Davis breaks down into the 9 Key Ps. Proactive knowledge is the skills that we need to teach students to be knowledgeable about in navigating their online worlds. However, students need the experiential knowledge experience to become effective digital citizens as talking is not enough.
The 9 Key Ps:
- Private Information
- Personal Information
- Personal Brand
Vicki Davis highlights some of the activities for experiential learning, such as using websites such as Snopes, to allow students to become detectives and determine if the information is true, false, or a scam. She also has students expose common scams and allows them to teach others to now fall for the common scams.
Daniel, and Brad and Shelby’s videos highlighted the importance of teaching students how to be media literate. Daniel highlights 10 questions a media literate person should ask:
Shelby and Brad also highlight a tool when teaching students to become media literate. Their tool is IMVAIN. This tool also encourages students to question their sources of information.
Digital Citizenship of the Future
One of the articles shared by Amanda in my ECI832 class, Digital Citizenship is the New Citizenship, written by Nicole Krueger highlights, “Rather than just warning young people about online risks or trying to curtail their activities, educators are realizing the importance of helping students leverage the power of digital media to work toward social justice and equity”. Furthermore, Krueger highlights that students are able to civically participate by voting online, signing petitions, and donating to a cause.
When addressing digital citizenship in the future I believe that it should be based on Joel Westheimer’s three types of citizens, personally responsible citizen, participatory citizen, and justice-orientated citizen. Although Westheimer did not have a digital framework when he developed the definition. The framework is just as relevant in the digital sense.
Our goal as educators needs to stop separating citizenship and digital citizenship. These terms are synonymous. By separating the terms we encourage students to have two separate lives, digital life, and physical life. Our role as educators is the infuse these terms together to promote students to use digital media in appropriate ways in all aspects of their lives.