Teaching Digital Citizenship in Schools

digital citizenship

Book Review
Digital Citizenship in Schools
Mike Ribble and Gerald Bailey
International Society for Technology in Education/ISTE, 2007.  149 p.

Technology offers powerful tools that allow students to communicate and, ultimately, create society.  Students need to understand that digital technology makes them citizens of the world. Teachers therefore have to engage digital technology in the same way their students already do.

But too often, technology is seen as another class that students go to, as opposed to being an integral part of the larger curriculum.

In Digital Citizenship in Schools, Mike Ribble and Gerald Bailey offer a framework for district- or site-based teams to understand digital citizenship and how it can affect their curriculum and school. It’s written primarily for educators and technology leaders.

Ribble is is an educator and author; Bailey is an author and professor of educational administration and leadership. Both specialize in technology leadership and staff development.

Ribble and Bailey structure the book around ‘nine elements of digital citizenship’ to help educators better understand the variety of topics that constitute digital citizenship and to provide an organized way to address them.

The nine elements are:  digital access, digital commerce, communication, literacy, etiquette, law, rights and responsibilities, health and wellness, and digital security.  They relate to each other in a number of ways and they fall into three categories:

• Elements that directly affect student learning and academic performance

• Elements that affect the overall school environment and student behavior, and

• Elements that affect student life outside the school environment

Chapter 4 provides 16 activities designed to give teachers, staff, and administrators a better understanding of digital citizenship and its implementation in a school or district.

Chapter 6 presents five foundational lesson plans that teachers can use to teach the fundamental principles of digital citizenship. Guided lesson plans cover topics including cell phone interruptions, how businesses use technology, creating and using mp3 files for teaching and learning, cyber bullying, plagiarism, purchasing items online, and file sharing.

Following each section is a list of web based resources for digital literacy.

The authors emphasize that it’s also important to educate parents about digital citizenship. Parents can help teachers provide a consistent message to students.

It’s critical for educators to take the lead in this issue, the authors say. Without such education, students will find it much more difficult to  become productive digital citizens, and our society will be diminished for it.

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