A #FutureReadyLibs take on #DigCit in the new #AASLStandards

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.



#FutureReadyLibs #BlogChallenge Week 5 Ensuring Equitable Access & Advocating for Student Privacy

FB_IMG_1490238380831I have a colleague whose college-aged daughter managed to type an entire research paper on her cell phone from the back seat of their family vehicle while on a road trip. That’s pretty amazing when you think about it. Yet, I think educators can do students a disservice by assuming that a cell phone in one’s pocket is all that is needed to ensure equitable access to digital resources.

Because I do not have wifi at home, I know from first-hand experience how limiting it can be to try to accomplish some academic tasks from a mobile device. While there are many things I can do with my phone, I find a lot things have to wait until I can get to work. I also run into issues with data limits and how much storage space I have available on my cell phone. I find I often have to delete a couple of apps in order to make room download a new one.

Even when we allow students to take home 1:1 devices such as Chromebooks or iPads, we cannot assume that wifi is easily accessible for the student. There may not be wifi access within safe walking distance for the student, and/or they may not have an adult available to take them somewhere to use the device.

Another related issue is that educators sometimes assume that their students being “tech savvy” means that they can apply that tech savvy to academic settings.

In a 2014 article from the New York Times, Academic Skills on Web Are Tied to Income Level, the author finds disparities based on income level, but also makes the point that in general “teachers often assumed that because adolescents seemed so comfortable with technology that they actually knew how to use it in an academic context…But we can’t confuse that kind of savviness with critical evaluative skills.”

I have found we need to be much more explicit in teaching information literacy, digital citizenship and safety/privacy issues. For a great resource on teaching these issues, check out Shannon Miller’s webinar from earlier this month.

For a thoughtful examination of student privacy issues, check out Susan Hefley’s blog post on Advocating for Student Privacy, which is one of the roles of a Future Ready Librarian.

How does your district support the library program to ensure students have access to the resources, human and physical, they need to optimize their learning? Does your program utilize digital tools to support and promote equitable access to information and resources through your library media program? What student privacy policies are currently in place in your district? Is everyone in the district current on those policies? Are there opportunities for you to provide leadership in building broader understanding and awareness of those policies? How does the librarian and the library program promote and support digital citizenship?

I’d love to hear your answers to these questions and more.

Please join in on the conversations by posting your own blog responses and by joining the Future Ready Librarians Facebook group, where a new weekly blog challenge will be posted every Wed. through May 24.

Started by Dr. Kristen Mattson, the FRL Facebook group has almost 6,000 members and growing and “seeks to support K-12 Future Ready Librarians as they support administrators, teachers, staff and students in Future Ready Schools.” You can also join in the conversation on Twitter through the hashtag #FutureReadyLibs and subscribe to/join my FutureReadyLibs Twitter list.