For the past couple of weeks we have been talking a lot about the importance of teaching digital citizenship in schools. Just because students are online and connected does not mean that they are digitally intelligent — we constantly hear stories about young people using technology inappropriately for things like cyberbullying, sexting, cheating, plagiarizing, etc. As educators, I believe that we have a moral responsibility to teach students how to be productive, responsible, and contributing members of the digital universe. Digital Citizenship Education can help us do that.
Not only do we have a moral responsibility to teach about digital citizenship, it is actually a professional responsibility of Saskatchewan teachers as well. Like Treaty Education, Digital Citizenship Education is mandated in Saskatchewan — schools and teachers are required to teach about it. Where I get stuck, though, is finding connections between digital citizenship and the Saskatchewan curriculum.
There are tons and tons of resources out there for teaching about digital citizenship — Common Sense Media has designed an entire K-12 digital citizenship curriculum complete with units, lesson plans, and resources. However, if you can’t make curricular connections, the resources don’t matter. Part of the issue is that digital citizenship is such a broad topic that encompasses many different themes — it is much more than just teaching about online safety. Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship provides a helpful framework for understanding the major components of digital citizenship.
Using Ribble’s nine elements, I browsed the Saskatchewan curriculum and came up with a list of subject areas and specific curricular outcomes where Digital Citizenship Education integrates nicely:
Health and Wellness
Outcome USC9.7 in Health Education 9 has students analyze tragic death and suicide as distressing community issues. I think this would be a fitting space to discuss current digital issues such as cyberbullying and sextortion — issues which can have a huge impact on one’s mental and emotional health. This outcome relates to three digital citizenship elements from Ribble’s framework: Digital Health & Wellness, Digital Communication, and Digital Safety & Security.
The Wellness 10 outcomes W1 and W4 also relate to the Digital Health & Wellness element of digital citizenship. Outcome W1 says for students to evaluate their own understanding of wellness. I think that digital wellness is an important dimension of overall wellness, but one that is rarely talked about. This outcome allows for teachers to have a discussion with students about their physical and psychological well-being in a digital world. Outcome W4 focuses specifically on mental health and its impact on the well-being of self, family, and community. This would be another fitting space to analyze topics like cyberbullying and sextortion, as well to discuss issues like social media depression.
English Language Arts (ELA)
Both ELA 9 and ELA B30 have a unit called The Search for Self — a unit where students explore who they are and how they have been shaped by family, friends, society, etc. When talking about identity, I think it is important to also talk about digital identity (and why it is so important to create/maintain a positive digital identity) since the two are so interconnected. The ELA outcomes CR9.1a, CC9.1a, CRB30.1, and CCB30.1 can all connect to Digital Citizenship Education as they ask students to comprehend and respond to texts that address issues of identity, as well as to create and compose different texts that explore identity. These outcomes relate to the Digital Communication, Digital Literacy, and Digital Safety & Security elements of digital citizenship.
The Health Science 20 outcome HS20-HB2 has students investigate various pathologies and aliments and how they effect cells, tissues, organs, and systems of a healthy human body. This outcome relates to the Digital Health element of Ribble’s framework — it allows for a discussion about the implications of technology on physical health and well-being such as eye strain, carpal tunnel syndrome, obesity, etc.
Aside from the three mandatory units in Law 30, educators are also required to teach a minimum of two optional units. The Law 30 curriculum has not yet been updated to the new outcome/indicator format, so I couldn’t make any formal curricular connections to Digital Citizenship Education; however, I think Law 3o would make an excellent space to talk about the Digital Law element of digital citizenship.
These are only a few connections that I have made between digital citizenship and the Saskatchewan curriculum. My hope is that as I learn more about digital citizenship and find more resources that I will continue to make additional curricular connections. Please note that the above list only focuses on secondary subjects, as I am a Secondary Education student.
Where/how do you integrate digital citizenship into the curriculum — specifically the secondary curriculum? Know of any excellent resources to use to teach about digital citizenship? I’d love to hear your thoughts.