Twenty-years ago, as I sat at my family’s desktop chatting on MSN messenger, I was entirely unaware or conscious of the idea of digital citizenship. Though I spent time online talking with friends, my exposure to the digital world was limited to what I could access sitting in my parent’s living room. Fast-forward 20 years and the digital and non-digital worlds have collided.
As a high school teacher, the concept of digital citizenship has become an integral part of the (in)formal curriculum of the educational spaces in which we (myself, colleagues, and students) occupy. For my students, their digital world is no longer contained to a desktop in their family’s living room, as mine had been when I was in my early teen years, but instead has become an extension of their everyday social interactions, a space that is only limited by their access to personal devices, data/internet, and their knowledge of the latest apps available to them.
Taking the lead from my students, I see Ribbles 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship as critical concepts that ought to be integrated into and addressed in my classes. Some of these elements certainly fit better into the curriculum I teach, while others take more care and attention in order to integrate them successfully into the learning we do within our classroom.
For example, the concepts of Digital Etiquette, Digital Communication, and Digital Fluency fit well when learning about the different types of communication that we might engage in. My students are asked to utilize different media to communicate meaning in range of situations (educational and social situations); these forms of communication might include creating FlipGrid videos and online forums, writing emails to teachers, using social media platforms to communicate specific messages. Each of these scenarios requires specific lessons on etiquette, as well as student fluency with the applicable digital technologies.
Our students are connected, they occupy and move between the digital and non-digital worlds freely and (more and more) naturally. The Saskatchewan curricula clearly identify “Engaged Citizenship” as a broad area of learning for all students in our K-12 classrooms. As educators then, we must help guide our students in navigating these colliding worlds to ensure that they are developing the skills to be critically engaged citizens in all spaces that they might reside.
A resource that I have used to teach around digital citizenship is Civix, the News Literacy lessons are interactive and ask that students to practice the skills needed to critically assess and reflect on the media that they consume.
AGParts Education. (2023). [Infograph 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship]. AGParts Education. https://agpartseducation.com/9-elements-of-digital-citizenship/.
Castro, A. (2018). [Family computer in picture frame]. The Verge. https://www.theverge.com/2018/8/9/17661466/shared-family-computer.