Teaching Digital Citizenship

Photo credit: Enkhtuvshin via Flickr cc

Digital Citizenship – SK Curriculum 

First, I’d like to state my opinion on digital citizenship and how it should be integrated into the classroom.  During #saskedchat on Twitter last Thursday, May 14/15, I was intrigued by the discussion surrounding whether “digital citizenship” is something separate from “citizenship.”  As a pre-service teacher, we have had many discussions in university regarding teaching citizenship, what is means to be a “good citizen” and whether this should be integrated into the classroom at all times, or taught as a distinct topic within Social Studies.  In my opinion, what is considered “good citizenship” should be something modelled day-in and day-out at a school.  Being part of the school community, building positive relationships with others, understanding responsibilities, participating in different roles (such as Student Representative Council or Safety Patrol), demonstrating accountability, building personal knowledge, learning how to collaborate with others, etc.  When you think about it, digital citizenship is not exempt from these behaviours and actions – students are growing up in the 21st century surrounding my ever-advancing technology.  If digital citizenship is not fully integrated into what is already considered “good citizenship,” then we are doing our students a disservice as educators.  Whether we like it or not, technology is becoming the norm.

So, how can educators demonstrate the significance of digital citizenship in the classroom?

Curriculum is not black and white.  Outcomes that focus on identity or social responsibility such as ELA6.1 provide the opportunity for digital citizenship learning.  In order to understand this, it would be beneficial to recognize a general definition of digital citizenship:

             “Digital Citizenship is a concept which helps teachers, technology leaders and parents to understand what         students/children/technology users should know to use technology appropriately. Digital Citizenship is more than just a teaching tool; it is a way to prepare students/technology users for a society full of technology. Digital citizenship is the norms of appropriate, responsible technology use.  Too often we are seeing students as well as adults misusing and abusing technology but not sure what to do. The issue is more than what the users do not know but what is considered appropriate technology usage.” (Ribble, 2015).

Firstly, it is important to recognize that digital citizenship is not just a tool for teachers to use.  As stated, technology is becoming the norm and it is essential that students are prepared for a future of technology-based changes in the world.  Because it is becoming the norm, we need to recognize that identity is no longer limited to physical presence or portrayal of oneself, but also digital presence and digital identity.  As an example, the various technology and social media outlets that I am connected to are representative of my identity.

With this understanding, we can start to unpack curricular outcomes and indicators focused on things such as identity, responsibility, social interactions, career education, traditional understandings of citizenship, and even things such as listening, reading, and writing.  As you can see, this is not a brief list of curriculum-based learning goals – a good representation of how digital citizenship needs to be an fully and authentically integrated, normalized, and truly understood as part of shaping the future.

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2 thoughts on “Teaching Digital Citizenship

  1. Great post! I enjoyed your interpretation of how the concept of digital citizenship could be utilized in the curriculum. I know, as an English major student, identity is a concept that is studied extensively in the higher level English classes. It would be super interesting to introduce the idea of digital citizenship there and maybe even do an online-based project on that. Like you said, digital citizenship is very relevant to students today; for many students, the digital world is their reality and so, like you said, I think it would be a disservice for teachers to separate the concept of digital citizenship and just regular citizenship.

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