Reflecting on Digital Citizenship

I knew how to teach my children to cross the road safely, not to play with matches and how to swim.  But when it comes to digital citizenship and navigating the muddy waters of social media, I have been struggling to keep up both at home and in the classroom.  Over the last 13 weeks I have been learning and reflecting on digital citizenship education.  I have come to realize the imperativeness of incorporating digital citizenship into my teaching.  “Teachers, media specialists, and technology people must gain awareness, educate themselves, and be ready to take action as soon as students enter the school doors.” (Hollandsworth, Dowdy & Donovan, 2011, p. 40).  This means I must weave digital citizenship throughout my lessons, throughout the year.

"Hanging Out" - Personal Photo

“Hanging Out” – Personal Photo

It Takes a Village – Parents, teachers, media, and the community must all work together to teach and model digital citizenship skills.  “Like a village, the K-12 professional community must develop common ground that advocates the use of technology in the classroom while preparing the student to make sound choices both for themselves and for others in the digital world.” (Hollandsworth, Dowdy & Donovan, 2011, p. 39).

Digital Citizenship is an Essential Skill – “Lack of digital citizenship awareness and education can, and has, led to problematic, even dangerous student conduct. If our educational village does not address these issues, the digital culture establishes its own direction, potentially pushing a productive, long-term solution further out of reach.” (Hollandsworth, Dowdy & Donovan, 2011, p. 37).  It is essential students to navigate the Web ethically, safely and effectively.  We only have to listen to the news to substantiate the importance of digital citizenships skills.

Take Ownership of Your Digital Footprint – Students are learning to collaborate, communicate, create and work collectively online.  As good digital citizens they have the potential to make positive contributions to their community and the world.  “Equally important is conveying the idea that being safe and responsible online does not mean hiding your identity but rather defining it and owning it.”  (Neilson, 2010).  Can we all be proud of our online identities?

Let’s Go Scubadiving –  How do we as educators prepare ourselves to teach digital citizenship and achieve deep personal learning?  “It is whether what are now called “one shot” workshops are an effective way of providing teacher education and development on the integration of technology into the classroom. The answer is no, it is not.” (McGrath, Karabas, & Willis, 2011, p. 2).  If one-day workshops or parachuting ‘experts’ in for Professional Development are ineffective, what will help us go deep in our learning?  Guided practice, making a commitment to learning, reflecting, ongoing support, collaborating with colleagues and those serendipitous hallway conversations will all contribute to teacher development.  “They [teachers] wanted more focus on the way the technology could be used in the classroom – more models, more examples, and more chances to work on creating lessons that take advantage of the new technologies and new pedagogies.”  (McGrath, Karabas & Willis, 2011, p. 12).  Ultimately, using the TPACK model will guide our teaching and learning (Mishra & Koehler, 2006).

Be Proactive – Student digital behaviors can have a positive or negative impact on their social circles and relationships, future careers, and overall safety.  Parents and teachers need to work together Parents to raise good citizens who can think critically and make informed, ethical decisions.  “A constant thread, throughout all the interviews, points to a proactive approach for effective digital practices. These opportunities will consist of effective digital citizenship curriculum, peer mentor programs, effective role models, educational faculty/staff awareness, enhanced awareness of the risks, and most importantly – a proactive versus reactive approach.” (Hollandworth, Dowdy & Donovan, 2011, p. 39).

“It’s not the tools students need to learn, but how to be responsible digital citizens.” (Bradbury, 2012).


Bradbury, J. (2012, May 24).  TeacherCast Podcast #21. Creating Your Digital FootprintRetrieved from:

Hollandsworth, R., Dowdy, L., & Donovan, J. (2011). Digital citizenship in K-12: It takes a village. TechTrends: Linking Research and Practice to Improve Learning, 55(4), 37-47.

McGrath, J., Karabas, G., & Willis, J. (2011). From tpack concept to tpack practice: an analysis of the suitability and usefulness of the concept as a guide in the real world of teacher Development. International Journal Of Technology In Teaching & Learning, 7(1), 1-23.

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for integrating technology in teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054.

Nielsen, Lisa. (2010, July 18).  Controlling your digital identity is as easy as 1-2-3.  The Innovative Educator.  Retrieved from:


E-Waste and Education


“E-waste” by Rashmi Gupta, (2013, February 16) (flickr) under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs Generic Licence

Throughout my course, we have looked at citizenship from various aspects.  This week’s topic, e-waste, was particularly disconcerting.  E-waste is a significant global problem.  With over 50% of our e-waste being shipped to other countries where regulations are more lax or non-existent, do we as ethical citizens have a moral obligation to safely dispose or recycle e-waste?  “The issue of e-waste spans generations, races and cultures and is inextricably bound to business, health, the environment and the economy on an international level.” (Dickerson & Kisling, 2009, p. 53).  How and when do we teach the younger generation about proper disposal of e-waste, and the ethical and moral issues surrounding this global problem?

Did you know that electronic equipment contains toxic substances such a lead, cadmium, mercury and barium?  These substances must be handled properly to avoid contamination of water health and soil as well as protect humans from serious health problems.  (Dickerson & Kisling, 2009).  With such a disheartening topic, there has to be some hope.  “Sustainable development requires maximum possible utilization of renewable sources as well as minimization of waste production and waste recycling.”  (Klemes, 2010, p. 589).  Kasper (2011) offers hope through their study of recycling mobile phones.  Their study found an ecologically way to manage the waste polymers as well as reuse recycled material in the production of new phones or similar devices.

“When asked about having previously received instruct ion on e-waste, 88% of the students had never received instruction and 79% believed that there was little or no information available on this issue. When asked about their practices of e-waste disposal, student input was concurrent with the lack of instruction they had received on this topic.”  (Dickerson & Kisling, 2009, p. 56).  If students have not received instruction (formal or informal), how and where are they going to learn about their responsibilities and impact?  My daughter taught our family many years ago the importance of properly disposing batteries.  To this day she keeps a metal box in her room for the collection of our family’s used batteries.  Where did she learn this?  She learned this through a grade four class study on waste and the environment.  Kudos to education!


Kasper, A., Bernardes, A., & Veit, H. (2011). Characterization and recovery of polymers from mobile phone scrap. Waste Management & Research: The Journal Of The International Solid Wastes & Public Cleansing Association, ISWA29(7), 714-726.

Klemeš, J. (2010). Environmental policy decision-making support tools and pollution reduction technologies: a summary. Clean Technologies & Environmental Policy12(6), 587-589.

Dickerson, J., & Kisling, E. (2009). Global and electronic waste: information in business education. Journal For Global Business Education951-60.