Before a school can delve into integrating technology, teachers and administration must place emphasis on establishing digital citizenship and proactively devise a plan to move into the digital age (Larson, Miller, Ribble, 2010). The Calgary Board of Education defines Digital Citizenship as “having the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to demonstrate responsible and respectful behaviour when using technology or participating in digital environments” (Bell, http://www.cbe.ab.ca/learninginnovation/digitalsafety-digitalcitizenship.asp, May 8, 2012). It is not enough to assume teachers and students know how to use technology appropriately. Ribble (2007-2012) has established nine elements to Digital Citizenship:
- Digital Access: full electronic participation in society.
- Digital Commerce: electronic buying and selling of goods.
- Digital Communication: electronic exchange of information.
- Digital Literacy: process of teaching and learning about technology and the use of technology.
- Digital Etiquette: electronic standards of conduct or procedure.
- Digital Law: electronic responsibility for actions and deeds
- Digital Rights & Responsibilities: those freedoms extended to everyone in a digital world.
- Digital Health & Wellness: physical and psychological well-being in a digital technology world.
- Digital Security (self-protection): electronic precautions to guarantee safety.
Ribble (2007-2012) has also established a method for explaining and teaching these elements of Digital Citizenship through three concepts: “Respect, Educate, and Protect,” starting as early as Kindergarten. He begins with the concept of Respect Your Self/Respect Others, which includes teaching etiquette, access, and law. Starting in Kindergarten, teachers and students need to have conversations about appropriate use rather than just imposing rules against inappropriate use. Students need a clear understanding of what it means to be a Digital Citizen. As stated on the Calgary Board of Education’s website (May 8, 2012),
Digital citizenship goes beyond e-mail etiquette and avoiding plagiarism to encompass all elements of digital engagement, in particular protecting private information, staying safe online, and knowing how to deal with bullying in the digital world, whether you’re a target or a bystander.
The second concept of teaching Digital Citizenship, according to Ribble (2007-2012), is “Educate Your Self/Connect With Others” (Ribble, 2007-2012). Within this concept, the focus is on “Communication, Literacy and Commerce.” Digital Literacy goes beyond the technocentric skills of the past, to focus teaching students and teachers to be adaptive and interactive as new technologies emerge (Harris, Mishra, & Koechler, 2009).
The third and final concept of teaching Digital Citizenship, according to Ribble (2007-2012), is “protect Your Self/Protect Others.” This concept focuses on “Rights and Responsibility, Safety (Security), Health and Welfare.” As with all the concepts, these skills can not be taught with a one-off approach but rather incorporating the themes into all aspects of technology integration and consistently returning to and revisiting the concepts throughout a teacher’s and student’s school career.
In my classroom, we have discussions around digital citizenship on a regular basis and constantly refer back to our Technology Oath. In order to utilize technology, the schools or their own personal device, each member of the class must take the Technology Oath, in which they agree to be responsible with the physical handling of equipment, be respectful to others, and be focused on the assigned task. It follows our school’s philosophy of care for self, care for others, and care for this place. Each student sign’s the Oath, which is hung in a place that is visible to all. I love to hear students referring to our Oath in conversations to each other, not in a particularly “monitoring” fashion, more so, in awareness to Digital Citizenship.
Bell, S. (May 8, 2012). Digital Citizenship. Retrieved from http://www.cbe.ab.ca/learninginnovation/digitalsafety-digitalcitizenship.asp
Harris, J., Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. (2009). Teachers’ technological pedagogical content knowledge and learning activity types: Curriculum-based technology integration reframed. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 41(4), 393-416.
Larson, L., Miller, T., & Ribble, M. (2010). 5 considerations for digital age leaders: What principals and district administrators need to know about tech integration today. Learning & Leading with Technology, 37(4), 12-15.
Ribble, M. (2007-2012). Nine Themes of Digital Citizenship. Retrieved from http://www.digitalcitizenship.net/Nine_Elements.html