Who owns the #digcit conversation?

Digital Citizenship has certainly been a hot topic of conversation over the last few years for me. It is a huge topic, filled with landmines from all different kinds of angles. What has become apparent to me is that in order to move forward, the conversation needs to broaden to not just include Principals/Vice-Principals and teachers, but parents and students as well. The conversation needs to occur before a classroom or school begins the journey into BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and discussed continuously throughout the process. The conversation does not have a specific start or ending place, or nailing any particular set of elements. It is a complex, evolving, and even mysterious topic many folks.

So what does Digital Citizenship look like?

Wrong Answers: A top down policy, an isolated course, a ‘one size fits all’ with just do’s and don’ts focused on control and consequence, and a set-in-stone static topic.

Right Answers: Involving everyone (parents, students, teacher, admin), building it similar to a core competency (see – New BC Curriculum Competencies as a reference) throughout the days, ranging in entry points for all learners, asking questions as a community, developing self-regulation with use, accessing positive digital leadership opportunities, and articulating a dynamic and responsive spectrum.

Ultimately, in both the digital and non-digital world, a good citizen carries the respect for oneself and others, who strives to continue the pursuit what this looks like within a community. As we strive to empower good citizens in our schools, I hope the conversation around digital citizenship in as integrated throughout our classrooms and schools as citizenship. But this can look and feel differently depending on the student, teacher, school, course, and grade level. What matters to me is that we are talking about it. I have connected with a colleague Aaron Maxwell extensively on the topic. He is the Vice-Principal at Arbutus Global Middle School and has started the conversation with his staff, students, and parents. One part of the conversation is with Grade 6 students in advisory. He has begun by asking these 3 questions: “What is citizenship?”, “What is digital?” and then “What is digital citizenship?”. Interestingly, the many responses have overwhelmingly been steeped with community, respect, and belonging.   The most important part about all of it is that he is starting with asking questions. Students are given the opportunity to share their understandings, their opinions are valued, and the topic is explored using their words from the start of the process. It is not the school board, or school, or the millions of resources that own the topic. It is the classroom. And it is through conversation. 

There is more to this, but I will leave it here for now. Feel free to contribute to my thinking in the comments.


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