What is “Digital Citizenship”?

This week was the first week of my new Master’s class in Digital Citizenship.  And let me tell you I was excited.  Not because I haven’t enjoyed all the other classes and work I have been doing on my “Appy Hour” project, but this class really focuses on something that my own personal children struggle with and that many of the parents and students in our classrooms are beginning to struggle with also.  I would even venture to say that I struggle with many of these things.

This week, I began reading one of the books for this course by Mike Ribble entitled Digital Citizenship in Schools.  And this resource has been so helpful, not just in laying out the concepts of digital citizenship and the nine elements, but it has several chapters with actual lesson plans to teach different elements to both students and teachers.  Anytime a book can lay out an idea for me, and not just have all these grand theoretical ideas, then I am much more invested.  It has an interesting approach where students are exposed to the elements over and over again, much like an athlete practices skills over and over again to become better at their sport.  I can appreciate that Ribble recognizes that this is not just a “one shot” kind of deal, where kids learn from one or two lessons and are supposed to remember them for the rest of their lives.

A second resource that I found useful was this short, simple video that lays out the nine elements of digital citizenship.  I can see this video as being very useful as a tool to use in a staff development session when beginning to introduce digital citizenship to teachers and administrators.  I like that it didn’t overwhelm the viewer with information or definitions, but laid out the nine elements quickly.

Another resource that I have really been enjoying for this class is Bullying:  Beyond the Schoolyard by Sameer Hinduja and Justin Patchin.  I have not finished it yet, but I am several chapters in and I am fascinated by the stories and research that has been done on cyberbullying.  Of course, having children of my own, I have seen and even experienced it with them.  I am always stunned when a teen takes their life, but of particular interest to me has always been the ones that seem to have a digital bullying problem.  I’ve often wondered, why didn’t anyone know or help them?  How did this get so out of control?    After reading some of this book, I am realizing I don’t even know half of the ways children are cyberbullied and the statistics that go along with it.  I can see this book as being a great resource for teachers and administrators, but also for school counselors and parents.  This is the age our children are growing up in  We have to protect them the best we can and if we don’t have a clue what is out there, how can we be expected to help them?

Another resource that I liked from this week is the information on the I-Citizen project.  I have been a twitter follower of Marialice Curran for some time so I have seen many references to this project.   I think this is a very impactful project to learn about and to view the video that the students created at the end was a very powerful statement to what it is to be a good digital citizen.  If I taught older kids, I could see myself replicating some parts of this project and seeing what the outcomes would be for my students, and the classes they work with.  I feel like this was the beginning of the movement for using Skype and Twitter to work collaboratively between classes from different locations on one project.

A final resource that I found interesting this week was the article by Jason Ohler titled “Digital Citizenship Means Character Education for the Digital Age”.  I enjoyed how he broke down the idea of digital citizenship and equated it to the character education that has been around in schools for a long time.  I also really enjoyed how he pointed out that school boards have to be the catalyst for making these character education programs encompass the digital age.  The resources for ethical inventories at the end of the article were interesting, and I look forward to exploring them at a later time.  I see him as a very influential person in the educational technology world right now and I look forward to reading more of his work.

I hope you have enjoyed this synopsis of my first week in my digital citizenship course.  I look forward to sharing more resources with you every week.



Curran, M. (2012, June). iCitizen: Are you a socially responsible digital citizen. Paper presented at the International Society for Technology Education Annual Conference, San Antonio, TX. Retrieved from http://www.gonevirtual.org/uploads/6/0/8/6/6086473/icitizen_iste12_paper.pdf(PDF: icitizen_paper_M_Curran.pdf )

Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. W. (2009). Bullying beyond the schoolyard: Preventing and responding to cyberbullying (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Ohler, J. (2012). Digital citizenship means character education for the digital age. Education Digest: Essential Readings Condensed for Quick Review, 77(8), 14-17. (PDF: Ohler_Digital_citizenship_means_character_education_2012.pdf)

Ribble, M. (2011). Digital citizenship in schools (3rd ed.). Eugene, Or.: International Society for Technology in Education.


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