Getting Down to the Science of Digital Citizenship in a Science Classroom

Although some may not realize it, the modern-day classroom looks nothing like it did 30 years ago (even 10 years ago for that matter!). Every day new technology is being created and there is legitimately some type of tech for everything. For example, if you want you could replace your cursor with a goose that makes a honking noise when you click on things with a chrome extension! You could also go more practical and add a chrome extension that allows you to stay focused when online, limiting wasted time on “unproductive” websites. So, how in the world are we going to help our students not only navigate this technological world, but participate in it as well?

Close up of male hands and laptop with blank screen. Mock-up of computer monitor. Copyspace ready for design or text
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A great place to start is definitely Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship which describe what it means to be a good digital citizen and some concepts to understand and follow in order to be a good digital citizen. As Ribble explains, the norms of appropriate, responsible, and empowered technology use are always changing and developing which means how we are interacting in our digital space is as well. As an aspiring science educator, teaching students about their digital citizenship is important to me!

Educational curriculum
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The Saskatchewan Curriculum is an extremely important part of being a teacher (or future teacher in my case) in Saskatchewan! Following the outcomes and indicators are important, but the way that you choose to teach them is flexible. This is how teaching about digital citizenship in my future classes will be possible! Looking through some of the outcomes and indicators in classes I will most likely be teaching, digital citizenship can definitely be a part of my student’s learning.

Science 9


Examine the process of and influences on the transfer of genetic information and the impact of that understanding on society past and present.

  • (h) Select and synthesize information from various sources to illustrate how developments in genetics, including gene therapy and genetic engineering, have had an impact on global and local food production, populations, the spread of disease, and the environment.

I thought that this would be a perfect place to have some discussions about digital citizenship. Not only do students need to understand how to be a good digital citizen, they need to realize that everyone else on the internet has this responsibility, but may sometimes fail to achieve “Digital Citizen of the Year”. This has to do with Ribble’s ideas about digital fluency. He discusses that part of being a good citizen is being able to identify which information put out there is good information and which may be bad. This topic in itself has some pretty biased and untrue information on the internet. If you think about the stigma that surrounds Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s), it could be quite easy for students to stumble across a news article that is full of untrue statements about them. Due to the nature of this indicator, it would be best for a lesson surrounding digital fluency to help the learning process of how to navigate scientific information and find the truth about it!

Science 10


Assess the implications of human actions on the local and global climate and the sustainability of ecosystems.

  • (g) Select, integrate and analyze the validity of information from various human, print and electronic sources (e.g., government publications, community resources and personally collected data), with respect to sustainability, sustainable development and education for sustainable development. (S)

This indicator provides a great basis for digital fluency again, but I have another vision for this lesson! Another one of Ribble’s elements is digital collaboration and communication. I’m sure that almost everyone is aware of the climate crisis that poses a threat to every nation. The topic of climate change is perfect for discussing how different organizations, countries, scientists, and people are collaborating to try to tackle this issue. Although the information about this topic is absolutely vital to teach, it also provides a perfect foundation for teaching students how to communicate and collaborate online in a responsible way! One thing that I imagine could be done, is to have students collaborate with one another (or another classroom somewhere) in making a social media outlet to discuss these climate issues. 

Biology 30


Analyze how Western, Indigenous, traditional, complementary and alternative approaches to health care can contribute to a holistic (e.g., mental, emotional, physical and spiritual) perspective of health.

  • (a) Identify how humanity’s beliefs about health, wellness, illness, disease and treatment have changed over time. (STSE)

One part of our health and wellness that has changed over time is the necessity for technology breaks. This would be the perfect time to help students conceptualize Ribble’s sixth element of digital citizenship: Digital Health and Welfare. Technology is a big part of everyone’s lives now (especially since the pandemic began), and we all need to learn how to take a break from our screens! We know that our screens are affecting our health, but unless we teach our students how we can do this, we aren’t holding up our responsibility to be a good digital citizen. During this lesson, discussions surrounding how we can get away from the screens in multiple different settings would be beneficial to students!

Conversations about digital citizenship are vital to our modern-day classroom which is why I am continuing to look for ways to not only include it in random lessons, but make it a continuous process of learning. I owe it to my future students to ensure they are able to consume, post, and be a part of the digital world in a responsible way.


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