Teaching Digital Citizenship: Whose job is it anyways?

As I was reading Ashley Dew’s blog post: Questioning Social Media in Schools, it made me think of a situation I encountered last week:

A student came to me quite upset because another girl in the school was saying some very mean things about her online through a social media network. As she showed me the messages, I noticed that a lot of this was happening in the evenings and on weekends. I asked her if she had showed her parents and what had they said to do. Her response was “They said to show it to the teachers at school”.

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My first reaction was “Great, now we have to deal with bullying issues that happen outside of school too”. Are parents “passing the buck” and expecting the teaching of cyber bullying and Digital Citizenship to come from the schools even though the majority of it happens outside of school hours? I remember when I had problems with bullies at school, after school and on weekends, it was always made clear that my parents taught me how to handle it. School was for academics and the social behaviour teachings happened at home.

How the times have changed, it seems. We have anti-bullying policies in place at schools, we have personal and social rubrics to measure student behaviours and participation in class and we can no longer give “0” marks for incomplete or not handed in work because students deserve more chances. And now, when cyber bullying happens outside of school hours, it seems it is up to the schools to handle it.

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In comes the Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools guide to help us teach the importance of Digital Citizenship to our students. Do I believe that this is a valuable and important component in today’s digital world? ABSOLUTELY! But where does this fall? Where do we connect this in to our everyday teachings?

At our last Teacher Librarian meeting (yes, those are as fun as they sound…), our Role as TLs has an area that includes the seamless integration of technology into everyday lessons. In that rubric, nowhere does it include the teaching of Digital Citizenship, and yet we are expected to be the media and tech experts in the school. So, does teaching Digital Citizenship fall on to the shoulders of the TLs as well? Are we the ones responsible for also teaching the teachers about it?

My final project questions just this. I can walk in to any classroom and introduce the students and teachers to all sorts of fancy and amazing pieces of technology to support learning, but is that my only role? Should I also be informing them of Netiquette, Copyright/Copyleft and Activism roles that are played when using technology? I do believe that I have a better understanding of these, thanks in part to two amazing U of R profs (Alec and Katia and EC&I 831) who have taught it to me. I trust that I can go in and deliver a great message about being a digital citizen, but who do I start with? Trying to get teachers together to hear a message is almost as easy as herding cats… And, let’s face the facts, as class time gets to being more and more precious (due to band releases, PAA, assemblies, special days, etc) it is more and more difficult to get in to classrooms.

For my final project, I will (hopefully) present  the importance of Digital Citizenship to a middle years class which will be recorded to share with Alec and Katia. I will also do an overview of some apps and websites that support literacy in schools and in the library. Finally, I would like to re-vamp the rubric about the role of TLs and technology use to include Digital Citizenship.

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2 thoughts on “Teaching Digital Citizenship: Whose job is it anyways?

  1. Such an interesting story about the parents telling the student to tell the teachers. It does seem as though we are expected to do a lot more than teach the curriculum. Obviously teaching some social skills is part of our job, but I do think that parents leave it up to us to do almost everything. I think that parents need to have important conversations with their children about things like cyberbullying, drugs, alcohol and relationships (among other topics). I also think that they leave a lot of the disciplining up to us at school which makes it difficult for us to teach. If students are never told NO at home or told to behave, then why would they do it at school?

  2. Pingback: So what next? How do we approach teaching digital citizenship? | Ashley Murray in ECI832

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