Nearly all of the ISTE Standards list digital
citizenship as one of the aspects of education technology that all members of a
school or district should support. Specifically, the standards tend to focus on
the safe, legal and ethical use of technology in schools.
This is certainly at the heart of the ideas behind digital citizenship, but
as technology integration grows, not only in schools but in society as a whole,
I believe the concept of digital citizenship will continue to expand.
When I wrote my first book, Digital
Citizenship in Schools, with Gerald Bailey, we considered where this might lead on a bigger
scale. The idea was to create a framework of defining elements that provide a
structure for digital citizenship education on which everything else could hang.
As a result, we identified nine key elements
that help define how to best use technology in every school, home and community.
They’re organized into three primary categories:
Advocating for equal digital rights and access is where digital citizenship
Rules and policies aren’t enough — we need to teach everyone about appropriate
critical that users understand it’s a crime to steal or damage another’s
digital work, identity or property.
Digital communication: With so many communication options available, users
need to learn how to make appropriate decisions.
We need to teach students how to learn in a digital society.
As users make more purchases online, they must understand how to be effective
consumers in a digital economy.
Digital rights and responsibilities: We must inform people of their basic digital rights
to privacy, freedom of speech, etc.
Digital safety and
security: Digital citizens need to know how to protect their
information from outside forces that might cause harm.
Digital health and
wellness: From physical issues, such as repetitive stress syndrome,
to psychological issues, such as internet addiction, users should understand
the health risks of technology.
These nine elements have been well-received over the years,
and I am now looking to take them to the next level by creating a curriculum
that can be embedded into the classroom at various levels. The curriculum will
break down the elements into the categories above, then expand and incorporate
them throughout a student’s K-12 experience. This is where we originally hoped
digital citizenship would ultimately lead, and the time is now ripe.
Advancing digital citizenship
This is why Jason Ohler and I have been working to create an ISTE
Professional Learning Network (PLN) for digital citizenship. Our hope is that
this network of like-minded ISTE members will help move the development of
digital citizenship curriculum along.
The PLN would also play a role in our new Digital
Citizenship Academy, which
will help staff at every level better understand digital citizenship and begin
building their own programs within their schools and districts. These courses
will allow administrators, technology staff and teachers to link the ISTE
Standards on digital citizenship to where their schools and districts are headed
As more districts add mobile technology into their curricula, now is the time
to get a handle on what they should be doing to ensure responsible use of this
tool within their schools.
Digital citizenship is a complex topic with many facets. We need to make sure
we help students understand the issues that might occur online while also
stressing the positive impact of technology. As many educators know, most
students want to do the right thing — and will, if they know what that is. Let’s
help them do great things with technology while avoiding the
Want to learn more about weaving digital citizenship into
your curriculum? Join our Digital
Mike Ribble is a district technology director and author of Digital Citizenship in
Schools. Visit his website
on digital citizenship and connect with him on Twitter via @digcitizen.