Teaching (Digital?) Citizenship

In the article What Your Students Really Need to Know About Digital Citizenship Vicki Davis covers “9 Keys Ps” of Digital Citizenship: passwords, private information, personal information, photographs, property, permission, protection, professionalism and personal brand. Davis also makes mention of the fact that many are starting to drop the digital from digital citizenship, as we are simply educating students to be citizens. I see this as the more modern approach to teaching digital citizenship. We can’t effectively teach it, if we are distinguishing the digital versus the real-life selves of students. I do not believe that students see a difference between their digital-self, and their real-life self.

Gif via Wiffle Gif

Douglas Rushkoff coined the term “screen-agers” as youth that do not distinguish between media, it’s all interconnected for them in their everyday life:

  • Screen-agers see media not as discrete products that can “impact” them or their culture, but as elements of a multi-media mosaic that is their culture.
  • Screen-agers “read” and “write” seamlessly using images, sounds and words.
  • Screen-agers experience the world not in physical boundaries but as an instant global network of wireless connections and interconnections.

By classifying teenagers, or younger digital literate individuals in this manner we can no longer separate the digital from the citizenship piece in education, because of this we need to educate students to think critically in all areas of media and their daily lives.

In the article Media Literacy: A National Priority for a Changing World the authors highlight five key questions for interpreting and critically analyzing information:

1 – Who created this message?

2 – What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?

3 – How might different people understand this message differently from me?

4 – What lifestyles, values and points of view are represented in – or omitted from – this message?

5 – Why is this message being sent?

As adults I think we sometimes take for granted that students can decipher valuable media and sources, from those with a specific agenda or viewpoint. But just because students have viewed lots of media and sources doesn’t mean they fully comprehend what they are viewing.  The post Digital Literacy: Whats Does it Mean to you?  presents two opposites of students skill and understanding of technology. On one end of the spectrum is comfort and ease of use, and on the other, information literacy – “the ability to judge the quality of information one receives through electronic means”. So although, students may argue that they know how to use technology it does not mean that they fully are able to interpret it.


Image via Pixabay

Regardless, if you think the digital should be separated from the citizenship students are fully immersed in the online world. If we are looking to engage with students and teach them to be productive members of society and prepare them for the future we need to connect the classroom learning with their online living.

My questions:

  1. What do you think about no longer distinguishing between digital citizenship and citizenship?
  2. What are some great digital citizenship lessons/ videos/ information you teach or have seen?
  3. How can we convince students that they need to be taught how to be good digital citizens?

Thanks for reading!


Digital Identity: past, present & future

Image via Pixabay

Digital identity means so much more than I initially thought. Before taking eci831 I would’ve simply said it is your online presence. I would now extend that to being your online: past, present and future self.

Past – As far as my past social media wasn’t around when I was in high school in the late 1990’s. Even Myspace was after my teenage years. I am glad for this, and am not afraid to tell my students I feel this way. This is not to say I was repeatedly making horrible decisions, just that when we did make poor choices no one was there capturing them on video or in photos. Any gossip, true or otherwise was maybe discussed for a week or so and was then forgotten. Teens today are under constant pressure and scrutiny, even when they’re with their closest friends. Nothing is forgotten, and they’re always connected.

Present – For my present practices for digital identity I would give myself an average rating. I have my personal Facebook and Instagram accounts, which I rarely post on. On Facebook I am a member of two business education teacher groups, which I do find extremely valuable for resources and ides. I have had a twitter for many years, but only started using it valuably last semester for eci831. I have really enjoyed using twitter, mostly for professional articles and making connections. I also find twitter great for keeping up-to-date on news.

Future – As far as my future practices I need to work on building up my professional idenity online. Although, I don’t believe I have anything negative to hide there is also not a huge positive presence to display. I don’t feel the need to have a professional portfolio at this point, but I do need to build up and maintain my PLN.

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Gif via Giphy

I think a lot about how what my high school students do presently will affect their future, but I don’t honestly think a lot about what the actual internet will be like in 10-15 years. I probably should, especially since my own kids are 4 and 2, and will be using the internet in some capacity in that time frame. So like any reasonably out of touch tech person I googled “what will the internet be like in 10 years”. I came across many articles, that touched upon: decreased privacy, increased VR and the internet of things increasing. The article 7 Predictions For How The Internet Will Change Over The Next 15 Years  highlights how internet access will become even more prevalent and how “augmented and virtual reality will play a major role”. That is completely beyond my understanding. So as an educator, and parent we need to prepare students for a digital world that doesn’t fully exist yet, we don’t fully comprehend and while it is online it will still impact their daily lives.

Recently I read the novel Ready Player OneI read it thinking that I would maybe use it for a novel study with one of my future ELA classes. Turns out I LOVED it, and thought it was a great book. The book is set in 2045 and the majority of people basically live their entire existence online in the Oasis. People use actual currency to purchase items so that they can live better in the Oasis than their real lives. The main character also attends school and socializes online. While the whole idea of the book is for the main character to complete a series of tasks and complete a game that was created by one of the Oasis’s founders, it was still fascinating how his real life paralleled with his online life.  I hope the movie is as good as the book, although they never are.


My current questions/ thoughts:

  • How do we prepare students to balance their real lives with their online lives?
  • Is it best to stay connected and immersed in up-to-date technologies so I somewhat have an idea of what my students and kids are experiencing?
  • Is it normal that all of this augmented/ VR stuff scares me? Not like the games that currently exist, but the fact that young people may become fully immersed and lose their developing sense of self.

Thanks for reading!



Five Elements – Dig Cit – ELA 9

To incorporate digital citizenship into ELA 9A this semester I am going to do so by starting with  Mike Ribble’s nine elements as a basis and branching out from there.

Currently I am focusing the five following elements:

  • 3 – Communication
  • 5 – Etiquette
  • 7 – Rights & responbsibilities
  • 8 – Health & wellness
  • 9 – Security

My two main sources of support currently are the Dig Cit Ed SK and Digital Citizenship Integration Planner that was distributed by RCSD. The planner was recently handed out a staff meeting/ presentation by one our school systems’ tech coaches.  I have been analyzing both documents which provide the following:

  • Essential questions
  • What the students should know
  • Understanding & doing
  • Ideas that connect to specific subject areas

My plan is to identify what the students should know, understand and do under each of the elements I am focusing on. From there I will plan specific class activities, lessons and tasks. Although, I have tentatively decided upon some that were in our school systems’ document I am planning a few that I have pulled from elsewhere.

This is one of the videos I will definitely be showing and discussing with my students.

Although, it could be perceived as inappropriate in some aspects it is too powerful to not show my students. I think the message is strong, clear and relevant. Our dialogue could center around acting the same in person as how you do online, and perhaps extending things to new anonymous rating apps that I have heard about. I would need to do research on those, as I am not familiar with them.

Another video I may show is this one. If you were a child in the 1990’s in Canada, you have most likely seen this.

While I am not planning to extend things too greatly into fake news, it would be unfair to students to immerse them in a digital citizenship unit without stressing them important of being cognizant of the source of information they read online.

Another avenue I am planning to explore is sexting. This study on sexting sharing-of-sexts was recently shared on twitter by Katia Hilderbrandt. The study is fascinating and provides lots of good information. As it is kind of a sensitive area I am not sure how far I will go into the topic, or what I will do specifically so far. But I feel that it is a conversation that cannot be ignored when discussing online activity and tech habits with teenagers. This portion of our unit may simply be me sharing the facts in the study and allowing students to react.

As far as photo sharing and the culture capturing everything online, I am going to display and discuss the following visual from Common Sense Media.

dig pic

On the topic of photo sharing I would like to cover the user agreements of some sites. I am not overly familiar with the agreements, but I do know that once a photo is posted to many sites/ apps they can basically do what they want with it. Within this discussion I would like to show some examples of where people’s photos were used outside of the app, without their knowledge.


Image via EC&I 832 – February 6, 2018

Withing the ELA 9A semester at our school we tie in a career component and have students complete the myBlueprint career program. My thoughts are to connect students online behaviour today to their future selves. And to stress the importance of a professional online presence.

So basically, I am currently very excited but also fairly disorganized. I need to sit down and write out my specific ideas that connect with the five elements I am planning to address. I also need to see my timeline that I will have for the unit and analyze which curriculum outcomes we will be meeting.

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Image via Giphy

Any thoughts, feedback or suggestions are MUCH appreciated!

Thanks for reading! 

Teaching what they (think they) already know

As far as preparing students to be positive digital citizens it’s a unique situation as we attempting to prepare them for a world they are already part of, or fully immersed in. For younger students they are most likely part of the digital world through their parents or class groups. Older students are members through their own social media and online interactions.

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Image via Giphy

I believe that we need to educate students about the dangers online, and some steps to be safe. But more importantly we need to teach them to think critically and behave in ways that demonstrate they’ve thought through their online actions. Alissa Skylar highlights that “digital hygiene teaches so much more than just safe, responsible use of digital tools. A parent who sits down together with their child to Google how to configure Instagram privacy settings is also modelling critical thinking, research techniques, discussing context, and involving their.” Sound, Smart, and Safe: A Plea for Teaching Good Digital HygieneThis is important as it encourages parents, or possibly even teachers to model skills and teach them to think critically and independently.  

dig pic
 Image via Senior Academy

My colleague Kyla Moffat created this video What does it mean to be a (digital) citizen? In the video she displays the  poster above, which I think is a great visual for anyone who is thinking of posting images online.

We are preparing students to be (a better) part of a community that they are already part of. We are also trying to instill in them the reality that anything they do as a member of the online world is there forever, and will impact their future. Since it is nearly impossible to restrict kids in any way in regards to online activities we need to teach them to be good online citizens.  Here are some ways we can help prepare them:
  • model good online behaviour
  • teach them to think critically
  • show examples of where online actions have impacted peoples’ lives.
  • provide them opportunities to use online tools for classroom learning, or connect to the lives.

What are some other ways we can teach students good online behaviour, or help prepare them to be positive online citizens?

Thanks for reading!





Search for Self – Digital Citizenship

My last post on my major project centered around my debate of which theme in ELA 9A I would develop my digital citizenship resource for. I have decided to go with the theme All That I Am – the Search for Self.


I felt this was an appropriate theme as it focuses on identity, the students connection to the community, their life journey and their future.

Image via Pixabay

The English_Language_Arts_9_2008 curriculum provides some guiding questions for a deeper understanding within each of the themes. These questions will provide the basis for my project. Here are a few that stood out for me:

  • From where does our sense of identity come?
  • What makes each person unique and interesting?
  • How do people journey as they change through life?
  • How do we keep our self-identity yet, at the same time, become part of a community?

I will use Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship as the basis for me to branch out beyond the questions. The four main elements that I see as most applicable so far are:

  • 5 – Digital Etiqutte
  • 7 – Digital Rights & Responsibilities
  • 8 – Digital Health & Wellness
  • 9 – Digital Security (self-protection)

As far as a set of skills or what the students will actually achieve, or how demonstrate their learning I have yet to narrow that down. Here are some initial ideas that I am considering:

  • Analysis and discussion of online behaviour, students creating a “Top 10 Tips” for being safe and happy online.
  • Reflection of how their online interactions affect their mental state and daily life.
  • From within the career unit that falls under this theme, students would analyze their online persona and how that could affect their future opportunities.

Here is what I hope to achieve within the next week or so:

  • Look through the curriculum closer to identify the specific goals and outcomes that students will accomplish through this unit.
  • Analyze what I have done in the past for this unit to see what still works, what I can tie in and what I should omit.
  • Seek out what others have done in regards to digital citizenship in ELA or grade 9 in general.
  • Connect with a teacher at my school is creating a unit for Social 9 centering around digital citizenship, and more specifically fake news.

Any input, tips or suggestions are much appreciated! Thanks for reading.

First and foremost I need to work on this regularly.

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Image via Giphy

Digital Skill vs. Digital Ease

While viewing one of the required videos for this week, Do “Digital Natives” Exist? , I thought surely I would be classified by Marc Prensky as a digital immigrant. However, it turns out as I was (barely) born after 1980 I would be a digital native. Prensky would define a digital native as someone who has grown-up with technology and who naturally takes to using it. On the other hand, he would define a digital immigrant as someone who would have adopted the use of technology, and those who are taught to use it by the natives.

Although I agree that younger individuals, my students included, take to using technology with more ease I wouldn’t say they are better at using it. When compared to older users (immigrants), they attempt or use technology without fear. I find when I am attempting to use a new piece of technology the best thing to do is simply jump right in and learn as I go. While I know my parents (who are definitely immigrants), want to study and fully understand any piece of technology before they use it.

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Image via Giphy

This is not to say that young people (natives) know how to properly or even responsibly use technology just that they do so with ease. I very commonly see students who don’t know how to format simple items with a word processing program: spacing, font or margins among a few. Additionally, students don’t know how to properly save or access documents, or how to share items or create attachments on an email. I’ve even come across students who don’t know how to define/ differentiate a computer program compared to a tool. It is possible these skills are becoming outdated and unnecessary. I just see them as skills that are needed for their present, and immediate future.

Black Mirror

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am (finally) watching Black Mirror on NETFLIX and watched the episode Nosedive recently. The episode follows a young lady’s quest to increase her social media standing to improve her overall quality of life.  The episode offers an eerily realistic view into the importance that our social media persona, and feedback has on many young peoples’ lives.

Image via – The Black Cat – Pop Culture Blog


It seems that more and more young people are overly engrossed in their online profile and activities. In some ways this only increases the distance from their reality. The article Ten Reasons Why Today’s Teenagers Are So Anxious highlights that electronics offer an unhealthy escape for teenagers. On the same note, teenagers can’t escape anything as everything is posted and reported online for everyone to see, forever. Nathan Jurgenson notes in his article The IRL Fetish that “hanging out with friends and family increasingly means also hanging out with their technology”.  This is unfortunate as it could minimize the authenticity of time spent together if you are always concerned about how your actions and words could be perceived online. I would also reason that although students are technology natives, it doesn’t mean they know how to responsibly use that technology.

If you are reading I would love to hear some feedback in general, or more specifically:

  1. Are general computer skills such as: word processing programs, emailing or saving/ accessing documents outdated? Do students need to learn these?
  2. Do natives (students) view immigrants (me, as how my students would view me) as outdated and out of touch when it comes to technology? If so, how can I get them to “buy-in” to what I am teaching them?
  3. Have you seen the Black Mirror Nosedive episode? What did you think?

Thanks for reading!