Digital citizenship and views of digital citizenship have changed so much in a really short amount of time, on a societal level more than at a curricular level. Five years ago when I applied to university I was advised by almost everyone to keep my digital footprint to a minimum. This is something that I am seeing change a lot as it becomes more of a norm to have social media than to not, and so as a future teacher, I am having to shift my mindset towards one that promotes digital citizenship more than it stifles it.
Digital Citizenship in the Classroom
Looking at Ribble’s elements of digital citizenship, there are things listed on their that I do and do not see reflected in the curriculum that I am familiar with (K-6).
One of the main issues that I foresee with actually implementing these elements into the classroom is the lack of access. Access to technology is not something that is prioritized in the curriculum by the government or by school divisions. I have taught several students who have no internet access and are not in a financial or geographical position to ever get it. So instead we have to prioritize access in the classroom, which is also not feasible all of the time. The main elements that I see reflected in the elementary curriculum are not directly referenced but they fit in to the overall outcomes that are to be taught. In the grade 1-3 social studies curriculum, there is a large focus on citizenship, rights, and responsibilities (specifically in the interactions and interdependence and power and authority units).
I think that there needs to be more direct references to digital citizenship added into the curriculum if we want to actually help our students to develop their digital citizenship. As the curriculum stands now, there are dozens of places to start fitting it in down to the Kindergarten level, but I think many teachers would be unsure how to start, or even completely overlook or forget that these are important new aspects to citizenship that need to be taught. I know that I hadn’t ever even thought about adding digital health, wellbeing, and citizenship into my lessons.
In a younger classroom, I would probably focus mostly on developing digital etiquette, health, and rights and responsibilities. These fit well into most of the curriculum, and the curriculum provides a basis of knowledge to build into these concepts on a digital level.