My Grade 6 students have been learning about Canadian Citizenship. They have examined the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees opportunities and protects the rights of all Canadians. They have learned about the responsibilities of citizenship, such as obeying laws, demonstrating respect towards others, and participating in the democratic process.
This week, I began a graduate course on Digital Citizenship, which has many similarities to Canadian Citizenship. Citizens in the digital world are provided with opportunities and freedoms, and must also demonstrate responsible behaviors. Hollandsworth et al make a similar comparison, noting how “…digital citizens have the same basic rights: to privacy, free speech, and creative work rights, ” as American Citizens. (2011). But digital citizenship differs in the fact that there is no single charter to outline all of the rights and responsibilities for online citizenship. The ever-changing nature of technology would seem to make it nearly impossible to create such a charter. But if we tried, what would it include? Ribble’s Nine Elements offers a list of possibilities.
For individuals not born in Canada, the requirements to become a citizen include such things as being at least 18 years of age, having lived here for at least 3 years, and having sufficient knowledge of Canada to pass a test. There are no such criteria required to become a citizen of the digital world. Like a birthright, simply having access to the digital world makes you a digital citizen. But if we were to develop a list of requirements for digital citizenship, what criteria would be deemed essential? Skills with multiple literacies and critical thinking would no doubt be included.
But the biggest question may be around how schools and communities can work together to make digital citizenship happen. As a digital citizen participating in an online learning environment, perhaps I may find some answers!
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.
Pacino, M. A., & Noftle, J. T. (2011). New Literacies for Global, Digital Learners. International Journal Of Learning, 18(1), 477-485.