Using two of the readings from this week, Ribble’s Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship and Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools – Policy Planning Guide, made me consider a couple of things I have noticed while doing my field work. My placement in a Grade 5/6 split classroom means that many of the students have experience using the internet for research when doing projects. Some of them have social media accounts, typically Instagram or Tik Tok. I would consider them to have a digital footprint, but would I consider them to have digital fluency, as described by Ribble, definitely not. I think we assume that since most of us, 25 years of age and under, have had access to technology throughout our life, that we know what is required to be “safe” when using it. However, as the Policy Planning Guide (2015) says, “Schools and teachers cannot assume that students are digitally savvy simply because they are connected”. This has been reinforced to me after hearing stories from high school teachers and what they are hearing about how students are using digital technology. Access to a global community requires that parents and educators take necessary to steps to help ensure that we all become more digitally fluent.
Based on this idea, I chose to look at where I can include digital citizenship at the Grade 5/6 level based on the Saskatchewan curriculum. The most obvious place in Health. One of the Saskatchewan Curriculum Outcomes (USC5.6) required is:
Looking at this in more detail by looking at the indicators, there are two indicators where Ribble’s ideas on digital fluency, digital etiquette, digital communication and collaboration should be part of the discussion. They are indicators d and e since we know that our students are frequently influenced by peer pressure and may not make the best choices when they can hide behind a keyboard.
However, we also have to consider other areas of the curriculum where digital citizenship can be part of learning. They would include subjects like, ELA, Social Studies and Science where part of the curriculum is to use multimedia sources to research and communicate ideas. The CR5.1 and CR5.2 outcomes of the ELA 5 program require students to view, evaluate, analyze and respond to various forms of text including multimedia. Additionally, indicators under Outcome CC5.1 of the ELA program requires students to gather, record, research and inquire on questions using a variety of sources. Student’s typically don’t go to the library and sign out a book on the subject. Rather, their first point of research is Google. These outcomes and indicators provide more opportunities for students to be online and expose themselves to some of the negatives of having an online presence.
A final thought on Ribble’s Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship and the Saskatchewan Curriculum concerns digital access. I feel like this element really became relevant in the last two years on online learning during COVID. When schools first made the switch to online learning, many households and students found themselves lacking in some of the required technology. Families may have been sharing a household computer or working off of phones and tablets. Others, myself included, may have had “spotty” wifi from living in a rural setting, that may have limited their access to learning. Additionally, a lot of the applications and digital sources that teachers started to use to make online learning easier, such as Google Classroom, have remained a core part of their “in house” teaching. There are some students who still do not have consistent access to the required hardware, which could impact their learning.