Searching for the keyword “digital citizenship” using the UBC Library’s Summons search engine brought up hundreds of articles and eBooks. Most of the articles that I selected as relevant to my topic were current within the last few years, with the exception of Mike Ribble’s work from 2008. Ribble’s work came up several times in my searching as an early voice on the topic of digital citizenship with his books Digital Citizenship in Schools and Raising a Digital Child. Although his work is very much centered on studies and laws from America, his article Passport to Digital Citizenship (2008) provided some framework to defining my topic by breaking it down into nine key elements including access, commerce, communication, literacy, etiquette, laws, rights and responsibilities, health and wellness, and security. Ribble (2008) attempts to answer the question What is digital citizenship? by providing the International Society for Technology in Education’s definition as:
Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behaviour. In this students will:
1. Advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology
2. Exhibit a positive attitude toward using technology that supports collaboration, learning, and productivity
3. Demonstrate personal responsibility for lifelong learning
4. Exhibit leadership for digital citizenship (p.14)
Ribble (2008) discusses how digital citizenship can be taught by following a four stage integration cycle, which appears to be less of a unit plan to follow and more of a theoretical framework. In contrast Berman-Dry’s (2013) article highlights a specific example of how she taught digital citizenship to her grade 6 class using student debate and reflection on a class wiki. Her 12 week unit for digital citizenship focused on appropriate use of social media, cellphones, and understanding out digital footprints (Berman-Dry, 2013).
To find more information to teaching digital citizenship to a group of Canadian grade 8 students, I narrowed my search by adding the keyword “Canada”. As mentioned in my previous blog post this brought me to two key articles that discussed a recent study of Canadian youth’s use of technology called Young Canadians in a Wired World and the non-profit group targeting media and digital literacy called MediaSmarts (Johnson, 2012; McRae, 2012). This was perhaps the most relevant resource that I found in my literature search as we have a subscription to MediaSmarts’ program Passport to the Internet. I have since accessed the program through Learn Now BC, downloaded the teacher’s guide, and started working through the online interactive modules. The program breaks down digital citizenship into the following objectives: managing safety and privacy, researching and authenticating, behaving ethically online, recognizing and decoding advertising, and developing awareness of content issues. I hope to build this program into a grade 8 digital citizenship orientation at my school. I also plan to check out some of the resources and tips for teaching digital citizenship highlighted in Byrne’s (2013) article, such as free websites and performing a social media audit of one’s own accounts.
The literature on my topic often discussed appropriate use of technology at school as a key feature of digital citizenship, but none of the articles define exactly what that means beyond being safe and ethical. This got me thinking about whether or not my school district or school has any policies around appropriate use of technology at school? Upon further investigation of the school’s handbook and the District website I could not find any information that addressed it formally. There seems to be many different opinions on this issue amongst staff at my school. While I do not have the answer, I like how Ribble points out that “students need to be able to use technology in an atmosphere where exploration and risk taking are promoted” (Ribble, 2008, p. 16). Perhaps this will be a good starting point for pitching a digital citizenship orientation in the library to the grade 8 team?
All of the articles that I selected acknowledge the need for digital literacy education in schools. McRae’s (2012) article discusses five road blocks to teaching digital citizenship in schools, including pressure to teach technology skills rather than digital literacy, drill and kill teaching methods, the potential for disruptions in the classroom, a shortage of PD opportunities for teachers to learn about technology, and strict internet filters, bans, and firewalls that prevent students and staff from accessing the internet. Johnson’s (2012) article advocates for teaching digital literacy stating, “Today’s students are not just users of digital media, they are citizens of the online world; young Canadians need to learn digital literacy and digital citizenship in their schools, and librarians and teachers need to be provided with the tools, support and learning opportunities to be ready to teach them those skills” (p. 22). I think this is an exciting time to be a librarian teaching young Canadians in a wired world!
Berman-Dry, A. (2013). Making It Personal: A New Approach to Teaching Digital Citizenship. Learning & Leading With Technology, 41(1), 24-26.
Byrne, R. (2013). A digital citizenship toolkit. School Library Journal, 59(8), 15. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/docview/1415379952?accountid=14656
Johnson, M. (2012). Shaping Digital Citizens: preparing students to work and play in the online world. School Libraries In Canada (17108535), 30(3), 19-22
McRae, P. (2012, March 27). Digital citizenship, firewalls and the moral compass. ATA News, 46(14), 4. Retrieved January 24, 2015, from CBCA Complete.
Ribble, M. (2008). Passport to Digital Citizenship: Journey Toward Appropriate Technology Use at School and at Home. Learning & Leading With Technology, 36(4), 14-17.