Digital citizenship is such an important concept in our world today. Our Social Studies curriculum, at least in Alberta, focuses on citizenship, from kindergarten to grade 12, centers around citizenship and identity. Here a the program foundation graphic from Alberta Education.
And yet, the most emergent and arguably most important aspect of our 21st century citizenship, who we are and how we act in the digital world, is almost absent from our curriculum.
As a member of Generation Y, I have experienced a change in my own view of my digital responsibility. I finished high school in the late 1990s and entered university in the early 2000s. The internet for me was a place where I could communicate with friends on ICQ (remember that!) and MSN, illegally download as much music as I wanted, and where I could look for information I needed for school, but then had to back up with a reference from an actual book because the internet was not an appropriate place to find information. Flash forward just 10 years, and I am a discerning internet consumer and producer. I search and use information on the internet every hour of the day, for my studies, in my classroom, and to settle debates with friends, I add content to the web with Facebook, Twitter and a blog, and I now pay for media content that I download. My digital citizenship has developed over the years based on my own sense of morality ( not to be a thief), professional learning and conversations and cautionary digital (fairy) tales I have heard about digital mishaps that have taught me to be careful online. We as educators have a responsibility to teach students how to be good digital citizens.
Teachers, schools, divisions and governments must put the time and effort into fostering digital citizenship among out iGeneration students. So how do we do it? At the grassroots level in our classroom, we have to model it always. It is never too early to cite your sources. My grade ones and twos know that if they copy an image or video into their work, they also must copy the link to the image. We use “talk-aloud” strategies on Math and Literacy, we also need to model our thought processes as we explore websites or programs with students. A teacher must set the expectation for her students as to what is appropriate online behavior.
A classmate, Janelle, has a blog about Digital Citizenship at the Elementary level .
Here are some of the resources for teaching digital citizenship that she suggests.