Friday, June 5, 2015

Digital Citizenship

Digital Citizenship not only teaches students the etiquette involved in being a smart and effective participant in a digital world, but it empowers and equips students with essential life tools to help them navigate challenging digital based situations. I am a strong believer that until this becomes a natural and intrinsic process engrained for our students, Digital Citizenship should be taught. I use Mike Ribble’s Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship. These principles are carried out through-out each grade level in the hopes of delivering at least one foundational message that builds common language across our system. The lessons have been adapted for each level but have the same underlying theme. I rely heavily on lessons from Commonsense Media. Scenario teaching is a great way to do this...which applies the "rules" learned to real life situations. ( is a great scenario site for my middle school students to apply the lessons that they have learned, and it a format that is very engaging. Since the digital landscape is ever-changing..we need to be present and cognitive about ever-changing practices and "rules" that will help students deal with these challenges. These rules should be taught through a real-life scenario sequence so that our brains will learn more effectively. Real-life scenarios offer a particularly effective way to explore educational dilemmas because they support a more complex understanding of the situation. We need our students to critically think and be problem solvers..and so the "rules" are the foundation to derive the decision making from - but each scenario requires a higher order of thinking and decision making. Our world is not so black and the rules cannot be that way either. All technology users need help deciding what to do with the information when they look at a new technology (or even one that they have (Ribble, 2008). We are constantly learning and relearning things about it makes sense to reflect on how you are using it and if you are using it in the correct way. Digital Citizenship is more than just a teaching tool; it is a way to prepare our students/technology users for a society full of technology. Society is the key word here. What do we value as a whole..a body of human beings interacting with each other? It is the practice of good ethical principles that bind us together collaboratively. If the use of technology is misused or abused we embark on a lawless society. Nothing we do is in isolation – other people are always involved in one way or another. So anything we do or say may impact on someone we have never even heard of. It is therefore important that we are very careful in what we do or say, for that very reason. This means being ethical in our relationships with others. Ethics should be considered as a set of principles by which to live; a code of conduct for our relationships with all whom we come in contact. Ethics encompasses social mores, usually expressed today as good manners; our behaviour towards our fellow humans and fellow creatures; and trust. The world operates on trust. "Globally, technology opens up the potential for unethical behavior in ways we've never had before," says Rushland Kidder, president of the Institute for Global Ethics and author of Moral Courage (Harper Collins, 2005). So we have to start somewhere and that starting point is teaching the importance of Digital Citizenship right alongside the Principles of Ethics and integrating it in everything that we do. Practice makes consistent behavior and these ethical practices will become ingrained in our lives and we won't even have to think about them as specific rules, but as our way of life. Ribble, M (2008) Learning and Leading with Technology. ISTE. December/January 2008-2009.