The role of schools/teachers in educating digital citizenship

Whenever I think of the role of teachers and schools teaching digital citizenship, Dan Haeslar’s analogy comes to my mind.

Instead of avoiding, blocking or filtering, I feel very strongly about the importance of taking an active role teaching digital citizenship and media literacy to our students. As Mike Ribble describes “Just as you teach your students the rules of society, it is imperative that you teach them the rules of the digital world, and how to be safe and responsible with technology.”

Throughout my reflection, I was focusing on the three major questions my classmate, Leigh highlighted in her last week’s content catalyst.

  1. Why teach digital citizenship?
  2. When to teach digital citizenship?
  3. What needs to be taught?
  • Why teach digital citizenship? According to the Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools, “students are generally proficient at basic use of technology, but are not necessary critical users and lack skills to be safe and responsible online.” As my classmates, Matt Bresciani and Trevor Kerr mentioned, digital citizenship requires participation in a meaningful and responsible way, helping students to move from being a consumer to using it as a communication and collaboration tool (John K. Waters in the article Turning students into good digital citizens).
  • When to teach digital citizenship? If I look at my own children and my students, I don’t think we can start teaching digital citizenship early enough. Children start using technology at a very early age, parents assuming that they are tech savvy just because they are good at “swiping”, which make the adult world overlook the fact that children are actually at risk.
  • What needs to be taught? As a parent and educator, I would love to be able to guide my children and students to become responsible digital citizens who are capable of building and maintaining a positive digital footprint. Teaching Mike Ribble’s 9 elements of digital citizenship in context, through real life examples and experiences would help students learn how to communicate and collaborate in a respectful, meaningful manner. I really like the idea of classrooms having Skype discussions with other classrooms, where students have the opportunity to share ideas as well as comment on each other’s work using the 3C and 1Q method. With the abundance of information, it is also crucial to raise critical thinkers by teaching our children to read laterally. I read with great interest the article Digital Citizenship: reflecting on the role of technology in relation to ourselves, our communities, and the world around us shared by my classmate, Christina Patterson, giving a great example for an authentic learning opportunity where students take something said online, or an issue that they know of or care about, and explore it, taking it to the next level where they discuss the topic in a podcast. The article How Finland starts its fight against fake news in primary schools, shared by Matt and Trevor, brings to our attention how crucial teaching people to think critically and to evaluate all information is.

There are certainly a great amount of valuable information and resources teachers can access to teach digital citizenship. The question is, do we have the time to look for these materials and do we know what to look for? As we see, some schools take educating digital citizenship very seriously. As my classmate, Catherine discussed in her blog post, it all comes down to prioritizing and committing to learning how to use digital tools. I absolutely love her idea, of making digital citizenship into a focus area, just like we do with math and literacy. I also believe that the optional PD sessions might need to become mandatory. Attending PD sessions and having tech savvy co-workers to discuss, offer support and peer tutor would help educators learn what digital citizenship and media literacy are and how to teach them in a meaningful way to help our students develop a complex portrait of a graduate.

Thanks for stopping by,

Melinda

1 thought on “The role of schools/teachers in educating digital citizenship

  1. Great photo to start, I like the idea that a lot of social media “teachers” have little no experience on that social media platform. True enough… the popular platforms change faster than I can keep up. However I would argue its the etiquette that needs to be taught. I think this idea transcends particular platforms.

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