This week we worked on an activity that had groups choose a student of a specific age and then decided what key attributes as a digital citizen we believe they should possess. My group group decided on a student in kindergarten. At first, we all felt a kindergarten student might be a challenging task but as we discussed and shared experiences as teachers and as parents it was fairly easy to identify characteristics. Listening to the other groups present their students it was clear that while we all choose different grades, we were all able to come up with definite attributes. Within a fairly short amount of time all the groups easily identified attributes, characteristics, or competencies of digital citizenship that students should possess. Digital citizenship plays a very important role in the lives of our students and therefore I believe schools need to be the place to teach about, foster, and develop digital citizens.
In 2014, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education published Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools: A Policy Guide for School Divisions and Schools to Implement Digital Citizenship Education from Kindergarten to Grade 12. On page six of this document the following appears:
While I hope we are past the days of having to convince people that digital citizenship should be taught in schools I believe we are still addressing how it should be done. My experiences with teaching about digital citizenship included using resources such as MediaSmarts and Common Sense Media. These sites provided me with lesson plans and activities to explore digital citizenship with my students. This was a over five years ago and I relied on the direction the websites went in terms of topics to use at each grade. In Saskatchewan, we now have the Digital Citizenship Continuum from Grades K-12. This continuum was developed using Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship and provides a focus for what students in each grade should understand and be able to do in relation to the elements of digital etiquette, digital access, digital law, digital communication, digital literacy, digital commerce, digital rights and responsibilities, digital safety and security, and digital health and wellness.
I think it is important to note that at the top of this continuum it reads, “this digital citizenship continuum is intended to support professionals as they infuse these concepts and skills into their teaching“. The Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools Policy Guide states, “digital citizenship education is not intended to be a stand-alone unit, course or lesson, rather it is best learned and under-stood when taught in context through supported online practice and real-life examples and experiences“. Both statements are acknowledging that digital citizenship should not be taught in isolation. While I agree with these statements and hope that we get to that point, I don’t think everyone is there yet. I see both isolation and integration happening in schools. I would rather see it being taught in isolation than not at all. I hope that as teachers become more familiar and comfortable, the isolated units begin to become integrated in all that they teach.
I remember hearing about the Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools Policy Guide when it first came out and looking at the Continuum thinking how great it was to provide some specific direction. But to be honest, I haven’t used them or looked closely at them until this class began. While my role no longer includes having a classroom of my own, I know my role needs to include supporting and encouraging teachers to explore digital citizenship education.