For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term Digital Citizenship, (and/or do not have the time to read the linked article), it can be defined as the norms of appropriate, responsible behaviour with regard to technology use, and according to Mike Ribble can be broken down into nine key elements (the following nine links include additional information to Ribble’s article and breakdown of elements):
1. Digital Access: full electronic participation in society.
2. Digital Commerce: electronic buying and selling of goods.
3. Digital Communication: electronic exchange of information.
4. Digital Literacy: process of teaching and learning about technology and the use of technology.
5. Digital Etiquette: electronic standards of conduct or procedure.
6. Digital Law: electronic responsibility for actions and deeds
7. Digital Rights & Responsibilities: those freedoms extended to everyone in a digital world.
8. Digital Health & Wellness: physical and psychological well-being in a digital technology world.
9. Digital Security (self-protection): electronic precautions to guarantee safety.
After gaining a better idea of the breakdown and importance of digital citizenship, I’m finding it difficult to narrow my post down because I’m finding that the elements are all so interconnected. As with anything new though, there will certainly be challenges to teaching digital citizenship in the classroom. Because #DigCit is such an up-and-coming topic of discussion, and even buzzword, I think it’s important to actually connect with what is being taught. What I mean here is that when you hear something over and over again, it is easy to become desensitized to the magnitude of it, so without time to practice or explore understanding, it is easy to become disconnected from what is being taught and learned. So I think keeping all of these nine elements relevant and important to students and allowing them to effectively engage with what is being taught, and also engaging with the expectations and responsibilities that come with digital citizenship, will be a challenging feat to overcome, and further sustain.
One of the challenges then may be incorporating DigCit into different parts of the curriculum, not just in computer science or IP classes. Already though, aspects of digital citizenship are being introduced into and supported within curricula. BC’s ADST curriculum starts with primary grades with what we might consider the basics, learning about what we can do with the technology we have, and learning of appropriate uses of technology. As we progress into middle years and secondary, it becomes more specific in learning about digital literacy, law, etiquette etc. In the Saskatchewan curriculum, digital literacy can be tied to a number of more obvious subjects like health, career, IP, or communication studies. But I was trying to think of more specific examples for interactions and came up with references from the History 30 curriculum, specifically the objectives on teaching dialectical thinking and reasoning. For an objective like that, it would be easy to deconstruct fake news articles, current events, media sources, and sharing practices, and it would cover a number of the elements of digital citizenship, such as etiquette, literacy, and rights and responsibilities.
There are a couple of elements that have stood out to me more than others lately, and one has been digital etiquette (or at least I think it is etiquette). Personally speaking, I feel like so much of digital etiquette should be “common sense,” but in reality, it is not. The number of times I’ve been out with friends, in meetings, or at work even, and people will be on their phones completely detached from the reality of their surroundings, astounds me. You would think that most of this is common courtesy — that if you are on a date with someone, or even just out to dinner with friends, that you wouldn’t have to compete for their attention with their phone.
Or, my most recent encounter with this… I was at a yoga class last week, which I generally attend every Tuesday night, and there was this woman who decided to place her mat front row and centre, right in front of the instructor. Okay, great, normally I wouldn’t care where people situate themselves, but this woman was literally on her phone the whooooole class, and ended up leaving early so nobody could talk to her about it afterward. She would be in downward dog, and scrolling through her Facebook; the sound notification went off, while we were in child’s pose, and she turned the sound off, but then put it to vibrate, so anyone around her could feel her phone buzzing on the ground beside them. At one point she was even watching a video! People typically go to yoga to stretch, relax, unwind, centre themselves, meditate, and detach for even just a little bit, but not this lady…I’m not exactly sure why she was even there, as she was just a distraction to everyone else. Even the instructor said afterwards that she didn’t know what to do or say, like if she absolutely needed to be on her phone or was expecting a call, at least have the courtesy to place yourself at the side or back of the class!
And that kind of leads into the next element of interest on digital health and wellness. How much is too much? Do we address the overuse of technology as an addiction? How are we teaching our students to be critically aware of their own technology use, and its effects on health? There are countless studies and articles about the dangers of social media, and the correlation between social media use and mental health, but then how might we address these kinds of things through a lens of digital citizenship?
In closing, if you haven’t seen this video already, I suggest checking it out! It’s pretty powerful.