Final Vision Project Introduction
For my Final Vision Project in LIBE 477, I put together a Digital Citizenship Pilot Program at my school for a group of grade 8 students. So far I have recruited a volunteer teacher/class, created a unit plan for 5 lessons that caters to the needs and interests of the pilot group, and completed two of the lessons with the students; however, I am only about half way through the program. I have posted my Final Vision Project at the end of this blog post, including the lesson plans, PowerPoint slides, handouts, and survey.
To make the Digital Citizenship Unit more engaging and hands on, I incorporated interactive modules from MediaSmart’s internet literacy program called Passport to the Internet. My district subscribes to this program through our ERAC bundle housed in Learn Now BC. I also created my own online survey to gather data on grade 8 internet use, PowerPoint slides to accompany the lessons, and student handouts.
Connecting to the Purpose & Rationale
The need for digital citizenship education became apparent in my literature search during the exploration phase of the course. Two of the articles that I found referenced a recent Canadian research study called Young Canadians in a Wired World that “highlighted the gap between what teachers and parents thought children were doing online and what actually were doing” (McRae, 2012, para. 2). To start the Digital Citizenship Unit, I surveyed the students to get a clearer picture of their current behavior and activity online. I was surprised to see that several of the students reported taking risks online by talking to strangers, posting inappropriate photos, using vulgar language, or being bullied online (see the full list of survey results in the unit plan link below). 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). As the librarian and 21st Century Technology Teacher Coordinator at my school, I would like to help bring a digital citizenship program to my secondary school, starting small with a group of grade 8s and perhaps growing from there to include all grade 8s or even other grades. After surveying the pilot group, the specific goals of the unit this year will include teaching students how to manage their online safety and privacy, how to behave ethically online, and how to recognize and decode online advertising.
So far there have been several technology speed bumps in the planning and implementing process. As explained in the previous post, I had to get my computer lab updated and repaired to be able to run the interactive models and play sound on the headphones. I also had to create student accounts to access the program in Learn Now BC. In general, I find access to accounts to be a big issue- the more usernames and passwords we give our students and staff, the less we all remember! There is always someone who cannot get into the program despite pre-screening accounts, hardware, and software! I also had trouble exporting the results from my online survey, but in the end I figured out my mistake and will be sure to correct it for next year.
Extending the Vision in the Future
The other constraint on this project has been time. The volunteer teacher and pilot class could only fit in 5 sessions before I go off on maternity leave in May. In my reading review, other digital citizenship units were 12 weeks long and covered a wide range of topics. During my introduction lesson, I had the students vote on the three modules that they would like to complete, leaving the fifth session for reflecting, summarizing, and gathering final feedback. The students chose the following modules: MyFace (where students will build mock Facebook profiles and learn about privacy management), Instant Pigeon (where students will engage in a series of interactive online chats to learn about ethical relationships online and dealing with stranger contact and cyberbullying), and Co-Co’s Choco Match (where students will encounter online advertising and learn to read between the lines). If the feedback on these modules is positive, we could expand the program next year to include Study Spaces (where students learn how to effectively search and evaluate the information they find online) and Web Café (where students learn to recognize whether a Web site is relevant and appropriate). In Ribble’s article (2008), he reminds us that “beginning the discussion on digital citizenship in our schools and providing a process for implementing it is a good start, but there is a missing component to this equation. We need to bring parents and community members into this discussion as well” (p. 17). In my initial survey of 43 grade 8 students at my school, 20.9% reported having never talked with their parents/guardians about online safety and respectful behaviour, 37.2% reported having no rules at home regarding using the internet/mobile devices, and 31% have social media accounts that they keep secret from the family & friends. In the future, reaching out to parents could be an important part of digital citizenship education at our school.
Key Learnings from the Course
There is a lot of room to grow from this Digital Citizenship Pilot Program; however, I am pleased with the key learnings and progress that I have made throughout this course. I found the keyword brainstorm and literature search/reading review very helpful for exploring my topic, narrowing down definitions, and finding resources and evidence of relevancy for Canadian youth today. During the inquiry phase of the course I was able to focus on other areas of my personal development, such as promoting a reading culture at my school with 21st Century Book Talks, expanding my ICT skills and personal learning network through social media and technology, supporting professional development by being a resource personal in my school, and exploring literacy projects at home with the Write 2 Read Project and in other countries through the African Storybook Project. Many of the goals that I set for myself during this phase of the course related to technology, which further emphasizes the importance of digital literacy and citizenship for everyone. In Richardson’s (2012) book, Why School? How Education Must Change when Learning and Information are Everywhere, he discusses how education in the 21st Century is changing rapidly with technology. He reminds us that “what’s needed for reading and writing literacy is evolving far beyond traditional definitions…In large measure, the professional and, to some extent, personal lives of our kids will be lived online in transparent, public ways that are vastly different from the much more private spaces most of us grew up in…This changes just about everything when it comes to being “educated”” (Richardson, 2012, “The challenge”, para. 1). My vision or hope is that by incorporating digital literacy skills into our curriculum and practices in the library, students will become better digital citizens of the online world we are living in today and in the future.
Final Vision Project Links:
Please note that I have uploaded the documents in Word and PowerPoint instead of PDF format so that other librarians can edit them for their schools. If the documents do not load properly for you, feel free to contact me.
Digital Citizenship Introduction PowerPoint
My Technology Inventory Worksheet
Digital Citizenship Reflections Worksheet
Digital Citizenship Module 2 Instant Pigeon PowerPoint
Digital Citizenship Module 3 MyFace PowerPoint
Digital Citizenship Recap PowerPoint
Asselin, M. (2010). African Storybook: Marlene Asselin [Web log interview]. Retrieved from http://research.africanstorybook.org/?page_id=103
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
McCarthy, M. (2015, February 13). Telus joins W2R as another key partner [Web log post]. Retrieved February 24, 2015, from http://writetoreadproject.org/
McRae, P. (2012, March 27). Digital citizenship, firewalls and the moral compass. ATA News, 46(14), 4. Retrieved January 24, 2015, from CBCA Complete.
Passport to the Internet Teacher’s Guide [PDF]. (2014). Ottawa: MediaSmarts.
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.
Richardson, W. (2012). Why School?: How Education Must Change When Learning and Information Are Everywhere. TED Conferences Publishing. [EBOOK]