We’re Not in Kansas Anymore
You know we’re not in Oz anymore, let alone Kansas, when the once familiar chant has turned from “Lions and tigers
and bears, oh my!” to “Copyright infringement
and cyberbullying and sexting, OMG!” But
we need to see beyond these scary woods—
er, words—to find the Emerald City in which
students can thrive.
In “Tech 2010,” an article in the January issue
of Hemispheres (www.hemispheresmagazine.
com/2010/01/01/tech-2010), author Alyssa Gia-cobbe mentions a mobile phone app that lets you
pinpoint friends’ locations geographically, shoes
that adjust for your arch automatically, treadmills with computer workstations built in, and
high-definition Web video. With cutting-edge
tools such as these in our immediate future, how
do we help prepare students for the world they
will graduate into—one that isn’t quite visible
across the field of poison poppies?
One way is through teaching digital citizenship. Attempting to establish norms of behavior
with regard to technology use, especially online,
is what digital citizenship is all about. Definitions
of the term vary, but all share common elements.
ISTE’s NETS for Students (2007) says that students should “understand human, cultural, and
societal issues related to technology and practice
legal and ethical behavior” ( www.iste.org/nets).
One of the performance indicators says that students will advocate and practice safe, legal, and
responsible use of information and technology.
According to the Manitoba, Canada, Ministry
of Education, which has a grant program for citizenship education projects, digital citizenship
relates to students’ responsible, ethical, and safe
use of information and communication technology as members of society and citizens of the
global community ( www.edu.gov. mb.ca/k12/tech/
lict/let_me_try/ dig_citizenship.doc). And Anne
Collier, editor of NetFamilyNews, offers this definition: Digital citizenship involves “critical thinking and ethical choices about the content and
impact on oneself, others, and one’s community
of what one sees, says, and produces with media,
devices, and technologies” ( www.netfamilynews.
Understanding what good digital citizenship
looks like, how to be a good digital citizen, and
how to teach each student to be one is challenging, however. The amount of curriculum
that isn’t being taught seems to grow daily, so
the idea of adding to the mix is probably more
daunting than vanquishing the Wicked Witch
of the West.
Fear not, help is at hand. In “Becoming a Digi-teacher in a Digiworld” on page 12, Julie Lindsay
and Vicki Davis offer ideas about how you can
incorporate digital citizenship concepts across
the curriculum and become an effective digital
teacher—one who can model the skills encompassed in the notion of good digital citizenship.
You can also find definitions for, and resources
about, digital citizenship in Christine Greenhow’s
Research Windows column on page 24.
No matter how you define it, digital citizenship
is a skill set that our students need to be successful now and in the future. Empower yourselves
and them with those skills, and even the flying
monkeys won’t seem so frightening.
By Kate Conley
Kate Conley is ISTE’s
and the editor of L&L.
Her first career was
as an English teacher
in the San Francisco
Bay Area. She holds
a master’s degree in
journalism and a
bachelor’s in English.
Conley has been at
ISTE since 1999.