Friday, January 18, 2008

Citizenship: Digital and Global

I was part of an interesting conversation last night about what it means to be a global digital citizen and how we can embed life-long skills into the curriculum.

There are a number of interesting and exciting initiatives around the world by teachers and organizations to help promote and support best-practice use of digital tools and to also promote awareness on a global scale of the responsibilities of being a digital citizen.

In my own small way I have started a Grade 9 unit called Digital Citizenship based largely on ideas and concepts found in the book 'Digital Citizenship in Schools' by Mike Ribble and Gerald Bailey (an ISTE publication). They also have online resources. I cringe a little to share the wiki URL as the unit is not fully developed yet. However I want to include it in this blogpost as an example of how a 'unit' of work can be developed and share with you where this has come from and where it is going next semester.

I believe that students as young as possible need to understand what it means to be online. Grade 9 (14-15 year old) students are not that young. They are already way out there exploring, joining, creating and uploading, interacting and have probably made their own mistakes and maybe cemented their own bad habits. Or maybe they have already set standards for good online behavior. However, Grade 9 is an excellent level to be discussing and exploring these concepts as they are able to fully appreciate the importance of online responsibility and also able to study this with some degree of seriousness. For my current students (who have 2 weeks of the semester left) the aim was to investigate, design and plan a digital citizenship lesson (yes, it is an IBO MYP unit!). They then needed to create artifacts to support that lesson (video, PPT, handout, etc), deliver the lesson, add all supporting material to their topic wiki page and evaluate their performance as well as the actual lesson itself. We are working through the lesson deliveries now and will 'tidy up' the wikis and write evaluations in the next 2 weeks.

I have found the students to be largely lacking in depth of perception for their topics and feel that in some cases the material has been trivialized. But, thinking about this, the aim was to choose a target audience and plan a lesson for that group. Most have chosen the Grade 5 or 6 levels and therefore have included fun activities (eg sitting on a range of chairs to determine ergonomic suitability), one student chose to deliver to an adult group (teachers after school).

I am particularly impressed with the Digital Security team (once again, wiki not finished as of this writing) who created a 'Jeopardy' style game and also a video. Here is their video, produced by Dillon about digital security (I know you will love it!)

Plans to develop this unit include a rewrite for next semester and a global collaboration on the material. Barbara Stefanics from Vienna International School and Vicki Davis from Westwood Schools are looking to join me on this as we work through a student-centred approach encouraging student-created material on each sub-topic. There will be more blog posts about this during the year.

There are some excellent resources available for developing digital and global citizenship courses. I am seriously thinking of creating a teacher-awareness and parent-awareness course/seminar and am inspired by the work of Vinnie Vrotny with his 'Educating Parents through participation' ideas and course on Moodle.

An Introduction Guide to Global Citizen Media popped up this week, via Andy Carvin on Twitter (do you follow him?). It "...offers context and case studies which show how everyday citizens across the world are increasingly using blogs, podcasts, online video, and digital photography to engage in an unmediated conversation which transcends borders, cultures, and differing languages." The PDF file is worth downloading and is available in Spanish, English and Bangla!

As part of the IBO Information Technology in a Global Society Diploma Course we study the social and ethical issues to do with IT and society. My ITGS wiki from last year (that is still being updated by my past students from International School Dhaka at their request!, but not by me this year as I do not currently teach this course) has sections on this.

Also, I was delighted to rediscover today the CyberSmart website, courtesy of an email from Mala Bawar, the Executive Director. Their online Digital Citizenship workshops '...model the safe, ethical and responsible use of technology in a virtual learning environment while demonstrating the value of life-long learning.' I am really excited to have re-found this resource again and will be exploring it's possibilities in terms of community use here in Qatar.

Vicki in her Techlearning blogpost What should be done about digital citizenship talks about literacy, safety, learning strategies and etiquette as core curriculum. She also states that:
"Digital citizenship is more than literacy, it is living safely, civilly, and effectively in our increasingly digital world.The focus here is that students are not where they need to be with the skills encompassed in digital citizenship. It is a process and cannot just be taught by one teacher one time and expect retention. It must permeate all subjects in all grade levels just like reading, for increasingly it is reading."

This resonates with me as I strongly believe in an interdisciplinary approach to learning and the breaking down of divisions and walls (this is no surprise to the readers of this blog!). Digital citizenship is not just about safety and privacy and facts and figures, it is a way of living in the increasingly digital world! CyberSmart also present 'research and information fluency' and 'creativity and critical thinking' as key components of the larger digital and global citizenship picture, and align their workshops with the revised ISTE standards.

What are you doing about promoting/teaching/discussing/showcasing good digital and global citizenship ideals in education?

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Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher said...

I love the video! It is tough because we're so glad that they do this sort of thing on their own initiative... it is a real joy killer in my classroom when I have to tell them that they have to get rid of all the copyrighted music!!! What do we do?

I wish there was a way to work this out with the record and TV companies.

This is a GREAT blog post!

Unknown said...

This is a phenomenal post. I am humble that you have chosen to include me as inspiring you when it is you who have inspired me far more.

I am beginning the 2007-2008 version of my parent course on February 5th and we will be wrapping up on February 22nd. I invite all who are interested, including yourself, to encourage parents and teachers to get involved.

Anonymous said...

Your post was right on track with my thinking. Next term (starting February) I will have our 7th graders. They are new to the school and new to MYP. I am teaching ITGS and also MYP Technology at a small public school in NYC. Adding ITGS into our curriculum for the first time this year has given us an opportunity to revisit our articulation and make adjustments to our backwards planning.

When you wrote: "I believe that students as young as possible need to understand what it means to be online," I thought of my new 7th graders and my plans for the semester. Your students' work on Digital Citizenship will have an audience with my them. I look forward to sharing their wiki with my class. My goal this term is to lead the 7th graders in a project that will allow them to develop their own PLN in order to research the impacts of modern technology globally and present that work digitally. It may be too much.

Looking forward to reading your posts regularly.

Hope to see more of you.
Twitter: mbrownstone
Skype: Madeline_Here

Julie Lindsay said...

Diane, thanks for the heads up on the free resources

Vicki, yes I know..a blind eye is being turned re copyright materail however I feel that if it is for educational purposes....but correct acknowledgments are a must

Vinnie...look forward to seeing your new course this year!

Madeline, I am so glad you made contact! I love teaching ITGS. Let's connect re the digital citizenship course as we may be able to do some colaboration between our classes!

SMeech said...

Fantastic post to follow your train of thought on the subject.

Your question: What are you doing?

I have put together a project called ProTechT that has 6 schools from around the United States involved. I would love to invite you in to observe the project and get your feedback. The project is locked from outsiders, so I would need to invite you in.

Perhaps your class might be interested in contributing in some fashion. The project is currently running with 5th through 8th graders, but some kind of contribution from your grade 9 students might be interesting and appropriate.

Our wiki is We have a forum attached at

Julie Lindsay said...

Hi Scott
Thanks for making contact, I have joined your wiki and am so excited by what you are developing. Yes, let me think on this as I would live my class to connect with your project in some way.
I followed some of your online work and love your idea of a 'Blitter' being a combination of a Blog and Twitter!