At #METC18 (Midwest Education Technology Conference) I was fortunate to attend several sessions with Dr. Kristen Mattson (@DrKMattson), including a 3-hour preconference session, “Digital Citizenship: Moving Beyond Personal Responsibility.” Dr. Mattson, who started the Future Ready Librarians Facebook group, had a book published recently by ISTE , Digital Citizenship in Action: Empowering Students to Engage in Online Communities. Her sessions really got me thinking about the way we approach digital citizenship with our students, and I decided to see what the new AASL National School Library Standards had to say about the librarian’s role in teaching digital citizenship.
While the phrase “digital citizenship” does not appear by name in the Standards Frameworks, nor is it indexed in the standards book, digital citizenship is definitely a big part of the new school library standards. As is no surprise, the librarian’s role in teaching students to ethically gather and use information is prominent. The key commitment for shared foundation Engage states that learners will “demonstrate safe, legal, and ethical creating and sharing of knowledge products while engaging in a community of practice and an interconnected world.” However, it’s also not surprising that the competencies enumerated in this shared foundation focus much more on the “safe, legal and ethical” use of knowledge (what we traditionally view as digital citizenship) rather than the latter part of the commitment, where we help learners navigate within “a community of practice and an interconnected world.”
In her book and her presentations, Dr. Mattson argues that our digital citizenship lessons need to move beyond “personal responsibility so that [we] can create opportunities for students to become participatory citizens, actively engaging in multiple levels of community and developing relationships based on mutual trust and understanding with others in these spaces.” Dr. Mattson further states, “As citizens, we have a responsibility to give back to the community and to work toward social justice and equity. Digital citizenship curricula should strive to show students possibilities over problems, opportunities over risks and community successes over personal gain.”
This expanded view of our responsibility in teaching our students to be good digital citizens is reflected in two of the other shared foundations in the standards: Include and Collaborate. Consider some of the following competencies and what we as librarians can do to guide our students:
- II.A.3. Learners contribute to a balanced perspective when participating in a learning community by describing their understanding of cultural relevancy and placement within the global learning community.
- II.C.I. Learners exhibit empathy with and tolerance for diverse ideas by engaging in informed conversation and active debate.
- III.B.1. Learners participate in personal, social, and intellectual networks by using a variety of communication tools and resources.
- III.D.2. Learners actively participate with others in learning situations by recognizing learning as a social responsibility.
Dr. Mattson believes that we should take a “participatory citizen” approach where equity and social justice are emphasized as we acknowledge student voice in digital spaces, help students understand their roles in digital communities, give them opportunities to participate respectful discourse, show them how to make meaningful connections through networking, and encourage them to make contributions that matter.
According to the Future Ready Librarians Framework, teaching digital citizenship should be part of the instructional partnerships that we build with other educators, and Dr. Mattson suggests that we help our instructional partners add a layer of digital citizenship to lessons they are already doing. For instance, a free speech discussion in Civics class could include consideration of digital speech, or a history lesson could ask students to consider how the sinking of the Titanic would be different if cell phones always existed.
For more practical ideas about teaching digital citizenship, check out Dr. Mattson’s website, view the #METCTV recording of her session, Beyond the Hashtags: What Can Social Media Do for Social Justice, and definitely consider picking up a copy of her book.