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Our Roles in Digital Citizenship Education

Every year, teachers are asked to cover a certain amount of minutes per subject. Here is the breakdown according to the Ministry of Education in Saskatchewan for grades 1-5:

Ministry of Education, 2011, p.10

There is one subject that appears to be missing from our curriculum : digital citizenship. As our world continues to evolve and rely increasingly on technology, students need guidance on how to be safe, savvy, and social online.

Where Are We Currently?

If something this important should be taught to our students, surely it is included in the curriculum, at least somewhere, right..? Nope. The Saskatchewan Curriculum contains no direct references to digital citizenship. When searching, the only mention of digital citizenship that I was able to find was the same article that Gerry shared for our class reading: Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools. This article is not even a curriculum document explaining how to implement digital citizenship in the classroom. It is simply a policy planning guide for how schools could possibly implement it. Upon further searching, I found that my school division’s website did have a section for digital citizenship, but aside from a blurb about how we subscribe to MediaSmarts, the only document mentioned is this same planning guide. I understand that teachers have some liberties that they can take in order to “interpret” the curriculum and provide students with lessons that we think are important. I feel that digital citizenship at this time falls under this umbrella. It is up to us as educators to find way to connect it to other parts of the curriculum in order to be able to teach it. However, I find it very disappointing that this guide was published in 2015 and it appears that school boards and the Ministry of Education have still not created any sort of curriculum or list of expectations/outcomes with supplementing resources that educators can use in their classrooms.

Where Do We Go From Here?

As I mentioned earlier, it appears that right now the responsibility of teaching digital citizenship falls on teachers directly. Since there is no formal curriculum or list of outcomes to be covered, it is up to individual teachers to decide what (if anything) relating to digital citizenship is important enough to be taught in their classrooms. This also means that is is up to use to decide whether we want to “sacrifice” some scheduled time in order to teach digital citizenship explicitly, or if we are able to find ways to integrate it into other subjects and try and find curricular connections. In my opinion, a bit of both would be the best way!

As Christine mentioned in Group C’s topic video, many of the digital citizenship skills are closely related to things we are already teaching in our classrooms. Discussions covering things such as how to research correctly, citing, assistive technology, passwords creation etc. could be integrate into almost any subject as long as students are going to be using those skills for an assignment. There are also many topics of digital citizenship that would fall nicely into some health outcomes. Christine’s post this week contains a great list of health outcomes by grade which have a strong digital citizenship connection. Finally, as I have mentioned in a previous post, Mike Ribble has created a Digital Citizenship Progression Chart which could be useful for guiding teachers in choosing which topics to discuss with students based off their age/grade level.

My Next Steps:

Taking EdTech courses, especially this course, has made me realize how important digital citizenship education is. I have also realized how little I knew about this topic and that the schools I have worked at do not really mention/promote the instruction of these skills. I am fortunate to work at a school that has allowed staff the option of sharing full class set computer carts amongst 2-3 teachers (instead of having 10ish computers per room). This allows me the opportunity to utilize technology more frequently as all students can participate at the same time.

This year, I am hoping to begin to integrate a bit more instruction on digital citizenship. At this time, I have two main ideas. First, when we are finished our novel study in English, I plan on beginning a unit on media literacy using this resource that I will purchase from TPT. From the preview, it seems like this resource will have some good digital citizenship connections as well as allow me to cover the outcome CR5.2 (view/evaluate visual/multimedia texts identifying persuasive techniques). Second, I am hoping to find some time after we are finished our current health unit in order to focus on some lessons that are very digital citizenship oriented. I envision this as almost being a unit of its own. Due to there being very limited resources in French (in general, but especially for digital citizenship), I imagine this unit will be primarily taught in English.

I am hoping that taking these first steps will help me to “get my footing” in the instruction of digital citizenship. My future goal is that next year I would like to find more ways to integrate digital citizenship lessons into as many other subjects as possible. Perhaps I will even make this my professional learning goal in the fall.

I will leave you with a few questions to ponder. Feel free to answer any of these or just share your general thoughts in the comments!
1. Do you think your school is doing a good job promoting digital citizenship instruction?
2. How long do you think it will take for us to have a provincially designed digital citizenship curriculum?
3. What are your next steps in your journey of teaching digital citizenship?

7 thoughts on “Our Roles in Digital Citizenship Education

  1. I agree with your assessment that the responsibility for teaching digital citizenship is falling on the shoulders of teachers. It is wonderful that you are thinking about setting this up as your professional learning goal next year! Perhaps, you may end up inspiring others and becoming a leader within your school! Developing a learning community can be taken up by many inspirational people like yourself and who knows where that will lead? I also agree that there with you and Christine that there is a place within all curricula for digital citizenship. We have elements of it present with understanding any type of literacy or communication.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! I too agree that too often concepts are falling on the shoulders of teachers to make sure they cover and do a good job of on top of everything else that may be expected of them. There has been a major transition between learning at home and school, to primarily learning at school and teachers ensuring that learning is happening in terms of school content and the outside world, as families may not have the time to do it anymore. It’s such a real struggle and teachers are feeling the weight of ensuring that kiddos are prepared for the future. I too think that it is a subject that is missing from our minutes. I know that the research suggests integrating it into all subjects and teachings, but I think that it will get missed that way and teachers will skip over it depending on time constraints and comfort levels. Your post definitely gave me a lot to think about!


      1. I can see what you mean about it being skipped over if it is integrated instead of just a subject of it’s own. I’m sure we all know that it is not always possible to complete every unit/outcome and that most teachers often start with the ones they enjoy the most, have the most resources to support, or feel the most competent teaching. This might leave digital citizenship behind even if it does eventually become a part of the formal curriculum.


  2. I am amazed by the balance of time sheet given by Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Education. I taught only Indian Curriculum doesn’t possess this space for digital literacy… Since I joined this class, I have been reflecting on the practices that we follow in India… But we never teach students about this…
    It is a real struggle to teach this with the curriculum as I believe we are so occupied with our own courses… With respect to my next steps, one side of my mind thinks that I would plan to teach students whenever I am using a particular app in my class… But one side of my mind knows that this much of knowledge will not be enough for students… We need to have a proper space for digital literacy in school curriculums.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice work starting with the balance of time required. I too am disappointed that this topic is not being addressed already. As a parent as well as a teacher, I am really questioning why we aren’t putting more emphasis on this subject; I feel like we are not at all serving our students. I like your idea of using it as a professional learning goal next year. That’s a great way for admin to see it is something you deem valuable and incentive for putting more effort into it.

    Liked by 1 person

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