Not. My. Problem.

We all know digital citizenship is important, but whose responsibility is it anyway?

Digital Citizenship Skills

I have thought about this question many times during this course and even somewhat before I started COETAIL: Whose job is it to teach these digital citizenship (DC) skills? I can imagine that many teachers’ quick response might be, “Well, I don’t teach tech, so it’s not my responsibility.” But I am not so sure that this is the approach we should have as digital citizens ourselves. I ask the question,

If not us, then who?

It is all of our responsibilities, as teachers, to teach DC especially in the context of our disciplines. DC might look very different in my science classes as opposed to your [fill-in-the-blank] classes. Of course, if your students are taking a technology class, this would be a very appropriate place for them to learn about DC, but I think it’s also important for our students to learn about DC in context. I think that makes it more obvious and relevant for our students to learn about how they can really be good digital citizens all of the time. If you are looking to incorporate DC into your lesson plans, these look like great resources: Digital Citizenship Lesson Plans from Common Sense Media.

Photo Credit: Ken Whytock via Compfight cc

Necessary Conversations

When and where should we be having such conversations with students? There is no time like the present! I do think teachers need to start having these necessary conversations with our students NOW.  I don’t think that teaching a stand alone lesson about DC is completely necessary (although it may be in some cases). Since most of us are teaching lessons that incorporate technology on some level some of the time, I think those lessons are the ones in which we could integrate a lesson on DC into an already existing lesson. If we don’t start talking about DC with our students, then who is going to talk with them about it? We can’t assume that they are experts on this topic. I am not even an expert on this topic yet, but I am working towards that 🙂 The above linked lesson plans are a good place for us to start thinking about how we can incorporate DC into our lessons.

The following video shows conversations that Dr. Devorah Heitner, who has her Ph.D. in Media/Technology and Society from Northwestern University, has had with some middle school students. It sheds some light on THEIR ideas/understandings about technology and digital citizenship:

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Dr. Heitner suggests that we, as parents and/or teachers, have conversations with our students. Ask them questions and come up with solutions together.


Are we taking this seriously? Sometimes, it becomes obvious that my students actually know less about technology and even less about DC than I had previously thought. I will oftentimes assume that they are all knowing when it comes to technology and DC, but that is not always the case. But we need to ask them about it, talk to them about it, engage them in conversation about DC. Before COETAIL, I will be honest, I was that teacher who thought it wasn’t THEIR responsibility to teach my students about DC – it was the tech teacher’s responsibility or the parents’ responsibility – not mine! But I am having a mind-shift. It is MY responsibility. I am their science teacher, and it is my responsibility to teach my students about DC. DC runs across all disciplines as well as into our personal lives. I want to model exemplar digital citizenship for my students, and it needs to start with educating them about it NOW. I warmly welcome your comments below.

Photo Credit: The Daring Librarian via Compfight cc

3 thoughts on “Not. My. Problem.

  1. Hi Pam,
    I had the same realization earlier during this course about the responsibility of teaching digital citizenship. I realized that it was something that was missing from our classrooms and it was the responsibility of all educators to ensure that we were guiding students and teaching them about digital citizenship. However, instead of leaving it up to teachers to teach digital citizenship individually in their own classrooms I believe it would be beneficial to have a formal K-12 curriculum. Teachers could then support the curriculum and continue to model digital citizenship in their own classrooms but by formalizing the process we could better ensure that all students are receiving the same message.
    That being said, I feel that it is not only up to educators to teach digital citizenship but it should be a shared responsibility with parents as well! In the article, Passport to Digital Citizenship link to , Mike Ribble agrees that, “ We need to bring parents and community members into this discussion as well. Too often when dealing with technology, there is a disconnect between what is happening in the schools and what is being done at home or in the community.” By collaborating with parents and making sure that students are receiving the same messages at home and at school we can hope that we are paving the way for them to be model digital citizens!
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. Great post, Pam! Love the title! We had very similar musings (link to link to on DC (love the abrev, btw;) and the fact that we have all become, like it or not, teachers of this new knowledge. I especially connected with your mindset BC (Before Coetail) – I was exactly the same, thinking “I teach literature literacy, not computer literacy”. I like that you identified that you are undergoing a “mind-shift” because I think that’s what we all need to do. And honestly, thanks to our AIS-R Coetail Cohort, I think next year’s HS Tech Integrator will have a much more enjoyable experience collaborating with many of us HS teachers! 😉

    1. Thanks for your comment, Miriam! I felt like I was using the term, Digital Citizenship, so often, so what better than an abbreviation for it (as we like to do in the field of education)! I am looking forward to what Course 3 will bring 😉

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