Digital Citizenship Curriculum

The more I read and research, the more fundamental I see digital citizenship being to what we do as educators. However, I also get more and more curious about where this type of learning fits in with the Ontario curriculum. In my research, I came across a document by the Ministry of Education entitled A Shifting Landscape: Pedagogy, Technology, and the New Terrain of Innovation in a Digital World, that reads:

Digital Citizenship : Many aspects of digital citizenship were spoken about by participants that seem to reflect the fact that we are in the early stages of grappling with issues surrounding safe and ethical use of technology in school culture.
Of primary importance across and among projects was the issue of students using technology safely and effectively in schools. To this end, all the projects seem to be struggling with issues surrounding control of technology in school boards, either by maintaining fire walls or by allowing open access to websites. As one individual said, “These devices will be and are being used by students; the question is how do we utilize those
opportunities in a safe and engaging learning environment?” Another participant questioned whether the focus
should be on infrastructure that restricts or controls student access or on providing an open environment and
then focusing on educating students about safe use and establishing restrictions and controls for inappropriate
use. Still others felt that cost to school boards would dictate an open environment in the years ahead.

These are great questions, but little-to-no concrete solutions, or places to situate such learning. I am wondering about:

1) What courses are best suited to a digital citizenship curriculum?
2) What would teachers have to sacrifice, if anything, when then infuse their teaching with this digital citizenship curriculum?
3) Is this something that we can assess on an on-going basis? If so, how?
4) What don’t I know about digital citizenship implementation that is essential for success?

With these questions in mind, I’ve started to look at “WebWeWant” and engage with others on Twitter surrounding the topic of digital citizenship. I want to steer this away from the ‘cyberbullying’ conversation, though I know that they are inextricably linked, and focus on safety and privacy, as well as on digital footprinting. To this end, WebWeWant has been very valuable as they have many resources in their scope and sequence.

Currently, I am aiming to integrate the digital citizenship piece into the adviser program at my school, as that seems like a natural fit, and the best place for these types of conversations to take place. I am also interested in bringing parents into the mix on this as well.

Ultimately,Digital Citizenship is about sharing your authentic self safely on line.  Gian Ghomeshi had a great conversation with Randi Zuckerberg (yes, the sister of that guy) based on her book “Dot Complicated“. It’s worth the 18mins podcast video if you’re interested in these questions and in why digital citizenship will be one of the most important topics in education in 2014!

I hope that there are other educators struggling and succeeding with this important topic, and I’d love to hear of what has worked and what hasn’t too!


6 thoughts on “Digital Citizenship Curriculum

  1. Thanks for the book and website recommendations Garth. (Some serious tech. know-how in that family!) Something for my holiday chapter gift cards. Digital Citizenship is definitely vital in all K-12 as tech. is increasingly embedded throughout curriculum. I have been working with primary and junior students on this topic during ICT classes for almost 10 years now?! The”internet driver’s licence” was the name of unit. Since then things have evolved from computers to mobile and edtech is everywhere and lessons on #digcit are now appropriate for students at an increasingly younger age. (JK!) Although, teaching tech and integration has been and continues to be a fun ride. The Grade Three’s love a free tool called the which covers all of topics (not just cyberbullying). Here is my review of the site.
    You might like some of the resources from my digital citizenship page from my blog.
    Cheers and Happy New Year,

    • Hi Anthony,
      Thanks for your response here, I really appreciate your insights and your shared resources. I just reviewed your blog, and really like what you’re putting together for the ICT course. I was wondering if you would be interested in writing a guest post about digital citizenship and Bayview Glen’s approach, or a more general approach? It could center around the building digital citizenship piece, or the obstacles that schools face in building it these days!

      Let me know if you are interested,

  2. Garth,

    I was speaking with another teacher and there were some questions floating around in regards to digital citizenship in GRADE TWO! This year was the first year that students were introduced to email and there were already some major issues around abusing the tools and using this form of communication to harm others.

    I’m wondering (although I know your school is middle and high school) if these lessons need to be introduced in the primary years to most effectively make an impact on long term learning?

    • Celeste,

      This is a great question, and my immediate response to it would be this: “as soon as students are being asked to use ICT, or computer technology in an educational setting, it is in the schools’ best interest to directly teach digital citizenship.” For something as simple as Email, schools should have protocols around formatting, language, salutations, and the like, as well as around when it is appropriate to check EMail and under what circumstances students should be writing Emails to teachers, etc…

      I did some digging around, and it looks like Alberta is ahead of the game in this area with some very specific curriculum around digital citizenship expectations from Kindergarten to Grade 12. Here is a link:

      Thanks for this,

  3. Garth, I can’t thank you enough for posting this as I grapple with my action plan which also surrounds digital citizenship. It’s funny, even a couple of years ago I would have said that “technology” needs to be “taught”. Well now I think think “integrated” is a better way of putting it. In every subject in ever class – and yes, Celeste, even in Grade 2, there are issues that we can make kids aware of. My project is going to be much smaller scale thinking but I am thrilled to see a bunch of links and reading in this post and in the comments. Definite food for thought. I can’t wait to chat on Friday!

    • Glad that it was useful to you Mardi! I am in the midst of getting an ICT teacher from another CISOntario school to write a guest blog about implementing an embedded approach – I’ll keep you posted.


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