Digital Citizenship

Posted: April 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

digCit_contractEDMODO_091712_8.5x11I was born in the 70s.  I remember the first car phone that my uncle bought.  It was a huge box with a long spiral cord to the hand piece.  It needed to be charged for 12 hours a day. My first email was in 1995 at the university of Victoria.  I received top grades in my fourth year when I completed a project that reviewed the various websites on the subject of health and wellness.  in 2013, this would  be a grade 6 ELA project.  I am not a digital native as described by Marc Prensky in 2001.  Maybe this is why I am continually fascinated and impressed by the digital options and possibilities today.

We hear so much negativity about technology and how it is ruining society.  These sentiments come from people lamenting the good old days.  When life was simple and teachers could just rip up the notes passed around the classroom.  But the reality is that technology is here and we are teaching Digital Natives. We must teach them about Digital Citizenship and teach them how to be contributors to the digital community not just consumers.  I am always surprised how little students know about creative applications and collaborative options on the web.

I was in class last week and students were preparing short skits to be filmed about bullying.  I asked them if they had an Xbox with Kinect.  3 out of the 4 members of the team had one.  I asked them if they knew how to use xbox avatars to create their scenes. They had no idea they could create and film their scene digitally using their Kinects while not even being together.  I am looking forward to the presentations to see if they tried something new.  as teachers, it is our job is not be experts in al

l but to be aware of the possibilities and point students towards tools that might spark something.

According to, digital citizenship is about teaching today’s youth about “online proficiency, engagement and creativity

, rather than focusing exclusively on the ways in which digital media can be used detrimentally.”  I know a teacher (call him Mr Y) who created a twitter account for his grade 2 classroom and when he informed the parents of his plans he was met with a lot of negativity.  The parents were concerned that their children were too young to be on social media and they felt that they would be exposed to content that was age-inappropriote.  Mr. Y asked these parents if they were

consciously teaching their children about social media.  Did they want them learning from other kids? siblings?  Mr.Y considers digital citizenship part of an imbedded curriculum. He is teaching them to be contributors and collaborators on the web.  When I subbed in his class, they kids were excited to list their twitter followers for me, including national Geographic kids!  They understood that they had a responsibility to their followers and were thoughtful in their class posts.  There are lots of examples of how to use twitter in the classroom here, including using it as a way for kids to blurt out in class without disturbing the class!

The province of Alberta has published several documents regarding their Digital Citizenship program that has been implemented in the education system.  On their website, one section is devoted to Your Digital Presence.  I found this interesting as it is directed to both parents and students as well as their teachers.  One lengthy Document outlines digital citizenship as including responsibilities as well as earned and educated rights much as a citizenship to a country.  I found this program forward thinking as it attempts to educated our young digital learners.

The Alberta program links to for curriculum links and lesson plans.  It is an amazing resource with real programs that can be used with students starting in Kindergarten. talks about introducing “concrete concepts and behaviors” to students.  Yes!  Use the internet is a behavior, and, like eating at the table, kids need to learn about online MANNERS!!!  And if their parents are not teaching this, then fine schools like ours need to.

Another School board with some great resources is Lester B Pearson.  I was impressed by the fact they created an entire website called Digital Citizen Program to meet the needs of out little Digi Learners included parent resources.  It seems that we Canadians are very keen to stay ahead and go beyond the 3 Rs.  Is this the mark of affluence?  Does every child really  have a computer at home?  More research is needed  than I will perform this week (and perhaps a PhD?) but we must think about it.

As Marc Prensky states in his essay Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, “Smart adult immigrants accept that they don‟t know about their new world and take advantage of their kids to help them learn and integrate. Not-so-smart (or not-so-flexible) immigrants spend most of their time grousing about how good things were in the “old country.”


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