Believe it or not we are all digital citizens in todays world of advancing technology. According to Ribble digital citizenship can be defined as the “continuously developing norms of appropriate, responsible, and empowered technology use.” Understanding this definition is a critical aspect that allows us to explore the role digital citizen ship and technology will play in the different areas of our life, like the education system for example. Technology has become increasingly prominent in the last few years so as future educators it’s important to understand what to teach students about being a digital citizen and when to teach it to them.
Based on Ribble’s 9 elements of digital citizenship I have picked out 2 elements and tried to connect them to certain areas of the curriculum. When initially looking through the curriculum it was evident that digital citizenship could possibly relate to many areas of learning because one of the broad areas of learning within the K-12 curriculum is “Sense of self, community and place”. However after reading though different sections of curriculum I felt that learning about digital citizenship best fit into the health aspects of the curriculum because in health students are asked to examine interaction, sense of self and how to treat others which I feel all directly relate to digital citizenship.
I think it is important to start teaching about these nine principles a soon as possible. Students are exposed to technology at a young age the the sooner they can understand technology and its effects on their digital citizenship the better. Digital etiquette is the best element to start with when introducing students to digital citizenship. Digital etiquette can be described as the standards for individuals in these various online spaces. Digital etiquette’s could be introduced to students through the Grade 1 health curriculum. The Grade 1 health curriculum talks a lot about behaviour, interaction and relationships which are all directly related to digital etiquette and the behaviour we want to promote in cyberspaces. I would say that this learning could continue into Grade 2 and even Grade 3 but it’s a really good idea if possible to introduce it in Grade 1. While teaching about digital citizenship I would recommend if possible creating a professional online space for students to interact. This will ensure the students can put the content they learned into use right away. Eventually this aspect of digital citizenship would lead into learning about various digital rights and responsibilities.
Digital Rights & Responsibilities
The last element that I think is also really important is digital rights and responsibilities. This element is focused on discussing the different rights, privileges and responsibilities students have within the cyber world. Although it seems like this element is easy to understand and should be taught much younger I feel Grade 9 is the correct area to discuss the different rights and responsibilities in the digital world. This element digital literacy also means that students need to understand other individuals rights which is a bit trickier of a concept. While teaching about digital rights and responsibilities I feel it is important to allow students to communicate on various platforms where they can practice their rights while viewing and understanding others. A great way to do this would be getting students involved in some kind of online debate. This would allow students to practice their rights by express their optinions but also encourage them to practice their online responsibilities to respect others individuals rights and opinions. Having students participate in the online debate would fit perfectly into the Grade 9 English curriculum. One of the indicators in the curriculum is focused on having student “View, listen to, read, and respond to a variety of visual, oral, print and multimedia (including digital) texts that address the grade-level themes and issues related to identity, social responsibility, and efficacy including those that reflect diverse personal identities, world-views, and backgrounds”. Having students view and respond to others in a digital debate would cover this curriculum indicator and also allow students to develop an understanding for digital responsibility and respect. Furthermore the teacher could also easily incorporate digital laws by showing students the proper way to make citations and encourage them to do research and cite their sources within the debate.
As a future K-5 educator I plan to incorporate digital citizenship as much as possible. I will incorporate the use of technology within my classroom on a daily basis to allow students to explore and practice the different elements of digital citizenship. Students are always going to interact in the digital world. It’s important to realize that although you may not think that it’s ideal it’s important as a teacher to teach the students what they need to know for life. So teach them about digital literacy they will thank you for it!