Teaching Digital Citizenship: The Role of Schools & Educators
The Role of Schools & Educators
This week I was lucky enough to present on this topic with Durston, Gerry, and Gunpreesh. If you’re interested in how each of us summarized the articles we discussed, you can check out our video link here. Durston introduced us to an article, 3 Ways to Foster Digital Citizenship in Schools which included badge training, after-lunch meetings, and parent talks as three ways to engage stakeholders with the content. From there, Gerry continued on the same path and discussed two separate articles: Digital Citizenship in Saskatchewan Schools and Teaching Media Literacy in Europe: Evidence of Effective School Practices in Primary and Secondary Education. Because the articles are lengthy, you may want to check out the summary video to hear the condensed version of the articles. From there, I introduced an article called Making Digital Citizenship Stick which was a short read that discussed digital citizenship in the classroom and the basics of digital citizenship. Finally, Gunpreesh found an easy-to-read guide for K-5 that focuses on self-guided digital citizenship activities, in the commonsense article: Quick Digital Citizenship Activities for K-5 Distance Learning.
But what is the role of educators and schools you ask? In my opinion, it is to teach kiddos and parents/guardians/caregivers about what digital citizenship means, how to be a good digital citizen and what a digital footprint means. This is no easy feat, and it takes diligence, patience, and a whole lot of learning (on everyone’s part). If you have been following along on my blogging journey this semester, you will know that I strongly think that digital citizenship should be explicitly taught like science or social studies, and back in the day computers (yup, probably dated myself there). If kiddos aren’t learning this at home, and/or school then there are gaps in learning, potentially putting them at risk of making big mistakes. The online world is much different than it was even a few years ago and setting kiddos up to be successful is key. If parents/guardians/caregivers were never taught this subject matter, then they too need the support and learning. Anyone else out there who agrees that digital citizenship should be a standalone class?
Current Personal & Schools Practices in Place
Because I am fairly new to the school that I am at currently and because of COVID restrictions in the schools and everything else, it is tricky to say exactly what is happening in our school around digital citizenship. I think it would be fair to say that it is up to each individual teacher to teach about digital citizenship. I have heard the Grade 7/8 teachers talk about teaching their kids about the social dilemma and implications of social media, but other than that I can’t really recall anyone talking about it. In no way shape or form and I saying that no one is doing it, or that no one cares, etc. It’s just a tricky thing to gauge with everything going on.
I do think that we could be doing a better job as a whole implementing and teaching about digital citizenship, but in order to do that, I think that someone would need to not only take the role on but completely embrace it, and breathe it. Creating example lesson plans throughout the grades, making a committee, and trying to build a continuum would be beneficial. But it does sound like a lot of work for one person and getting buy-in when teachers are feeling quite burnt would also be somewhat difficult at this time.
I think this is such an important topic and would love to lead a role such as this, or co-lead it, but with everything going on right now I think it would be tricky to get buy-in. Therefore, for the remainder of this year, I am going to continue to focus on my kiddos in my room and teaching them how to be good digital citizens. How you may ask? Well mainly through conversation and stories. Kiddos seem to listen when you are being honest and speaking through experience (good and bad). I do use other resources from MediaSmarts, CommonSense, and more. I feel as if I could do a better job of teaching this content as I am quite passionate about it and believe in its importance of it.
Future Plans & Moving Forward
Going forward, I would like to continue creating the digital citizenship course that I started in the EC&I 834 course, which you can check out here. I would like to use this course to act as a stand-alone Practical and Applied Arts course for my middle year’s kiddos. Using Ribble’s framework that I mentioned in the presentation this week would also be key to building a mini continuum that I could teach the kiddos in my room, and moving forward. (You can check out the quick video I made summarizing my articles here.) This would also help act as a starting point if I wanted to take more of a leadership role and share it with my colleagues. Consistency is definitely key when teaching a concept such as this that has so many levels, and factors involved.
Another good way to be a leader in this subject matter is to become more well versed in it. Doing some research into the topic would be beneficial when dealing with teachers who are more skeptical of the importance of it. It would also help me better understand what to include in each level and justifications as to why. Reaching out to the experts would also be key to understanding the content the best that I possibly can, as well as best teaching practices going forward. If you’re thinking you’d be interested in making something such as this and putting it together in a format where teachers could easily pick it up and use it (regardless of their comfort levels), let me know! This may definitely be a project that I am interested in doing in the future.
Growing & Learning Needs Feedback
As always, thanks so much for popping in! To learn, grow and move forward I would love to hear some honest feedback. If I am missing the nail on the head, let me know. If there’s something you think that I could do to make me a better educator, I am all ears! So, feel free to leave a general comment, answer one or several of the prompting questions below, or hit the like button. All support and feedback are appreciated.
- What do you think school’s or educator’s roles are in terms of teaching digital citizenship?
- How does your current school tackle digital citizenship?
- After spending some time learning and digging deeper into the topic of digital citizenship, how do you about teaching the concept going forward?
- What resources do you feel like you need to be the most successful when teaching digital citizenship?
- If you have kiddos or if you want kiddos in the future, what do you hope they learn about digital citizenship in schools?