Digital Citizenship

Digital Citizenship  

May 23, 2018
“Digital Citizenship” has been a topic in education for at least a decade. With technology more and more prevalent in schools, this topic is essential. Because students now have powerful devices in their hands virtually 24 hours a day, it has never been more important to teach students the responsible use of technology--in AND out of school. But perhaps it is time that we drop the “digital” and focus on helping students be good citizens.

ISTE, the International Society for Technology in Education, develops standards for technology use in schools and also provides resources to help teachers with digital citizenship in their classrooms. In a recent article titled “Citizenship in the Digital Age,” Diana Fingal described an infographic comparing a citizen to a digital citizen. While there are some differences, the majority of the characteristics paralleled each other. “The elements of digital citizenship, it turns out, are not so different from the basic tenets of traditional citizenship: Be kind, respectful and responsible, and participate in activities that make the world a better place.”1

One of my roles as an ESU 10 T&L coordinator, and ESUPDO-TLT* member, is to facilitate the annual Digital Citizenship Symposium. This statewide event hosted by Nebraska ESUs takes place in September. We invite schools to bring teams of five to come to one of the four host sites to learn, and then work as a team to develop a plan to promote responsible technology use back in their districts. It is a well-attended and successful event, but we recognize that digital citizenship education should not and cannot be a one time event. It must be ongoing and it must be integrated into every classroom.

With this in mind, the digital citizenship planning committee for ESUPDO-TLT is working to curate curriculum that teachers can integrate into their classrooms. The goal is to have smaller bites of curriculum, as well as strategies for discussion, can be used more often and more regularly and in every classroom. We will house these resources in the OER Commons Nebraska Hub. This hub of resources will be helpful for the T&L EdTech Team when working with teachers, as many of our ESU 10 schools have indicated a need for digital citizenship support in schools.

Whether we are talking about being kind online, respecting others’ rights and property, or determining the validity of information found on the internet before sharing, we really are just teaching citizenship. We must teach the skills and knowledge students need to find their way in the world today. “Just as all kids throughout the centuries have needed help from their parents, teachers and mentors along the path to becoming good citizens, our digital natives need guidance as they learn how to apply the elements of citizenship to the realities they encounter in a connected world.” (Diana Fingal)2 
*ESUPDO is our statewide ESU group which gathers 3 times year to collaborate and learn. TLT is the Teaching and Learning with Technology affiliate.