Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Digital Citizenship...what does this mean?

The term digital citizenship is being thrown around almost as much as the term 21st century learner, or 21st century classroom. However, the term digital citizenship is just as amorphous as the other terms. What is digital citizenship? When the term was first coined, there were as many different definitions as there were people saying the words. But with this type of varied perception, comes a problem what is it really? and more relevant to me, how do we teach it?

In doing some research and reading it seems that the Ed-Tech community has come to consensus on what digital citizenship is and the components that comprise it. Now we just need to come to consensus on how to teach it.

Common to many schools of thought, there are 9 Themes of Digital Citizenship that we should all be aware of and needless to say that we should be teaching our students. Some would say that teaching these topics should be as common as teaching the golden rule, due to the fact that the generations now known as digital natives have social networks, friends, groups, cliques and other types of acquaintances that they interact with on-line and therefore there needs to be rules, common courtesies that we all should abide by when interacting in virtual society. I digress... The nine themes:

1. Digital Etiquette: electronic standards of conduct or procedure .

2. Digital Communication : electronic exchange of information.

3. Digital Literacy: process of teaching and learning about technology and the use of technology.

4. Digital Access: full electronic participation in society .

5. Digital Commerce: electronic buying and selling of goods.

6. Digital Law : electronic responsibility for actions and deeds

7. Digital Rights & Responsibilities: those freedoms extended to everyone in a digital world .

8. Digital Health & Wellness : physical and psychological well-being in a digital technology world .

9. Digital Security (self-protection): electronic precautions to guarantee safety.

These are very broad topics and the list of resources are long and involved. But there are a few starting points worth mentioning.

Kansas State University has a great website all about Digital Citizenship.

One writer in an article in Technology and Learning On-Line posted 20 questions that students asked in an article titled, "What is Digital Citizenship?"

Last, but not least is a website named Digital Citizenship This website is authored by one of the professors at Kansas State University.

All of the materials are there, but the question that I am left to ask is how do we make all of this etiquette part of our daily life? How can teachers who don't even use technology effectively in their classrooms, let alone in their lives, be expected to teach how to properly interact in a place they fear to visit? What are the next steps for K-12 educators? How can professionals who many are not even qualified as Digital Immigrants teach how to act as a proper Digital Native? Is this something like an american teaching other americans how to interact in a Muslim villiage in the Middle East?

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