According to Mike Ribble (2015), digital citizenship is defined as the standards for appropriate and responsible technology use. I use technology as a teacher, student, and in everyday life. My role as a digital citizen manifests in all aspects of my life. When I am teaching, I must model the correct usage of technology for my students. I must share and demonstrate how to use tools and applications that enhance learning. As a student, I am learning about new resources, terms, and theories on digital education. I must apply what I have learned as well as communicate and collaborate with others. Being a digital citizen as a student also involves sharing helpful information, attributing sources, and giving and receiving constructive critiques. When using technology in everyday life to communicate with friends and family or participate in social media, there is still a basic requirement to behave as a responsible digital citizen. Consequently, in all aspects of digital and online participation, a digital footprint will record every action taken online or on the Internet. A positive digital footprint can be attained with the help of nine key elements of digital citizenship. Elements of Digital Citizenship There are nine elements to digital citizenship. The first element is digital access. Digital access refers to the equal opportunities available for technology use. This element involves inclusion so that no one should be limited in digital resources. The second element is digital commerce, which focuses on the buying and selling of goods electronically. The third element is digital communication. We communicate through a variety of channels digitally including email, text messaging, social media, and video conferencing. The fourth element is digital literacy. As innovation occurs and technology evolves, so should our technological knowledge and skill. The fifth element is digital etiquette. This element is important as we educate our students on how to behave appropriately online. It is about having integrity and includes initiatives on anti-bullying. The sixth element is digital law. Digital laws are just as significant as non-digital laws. Stealing, hacking, and many other crimes can be committed in the digital realm. The seventh element is digital rights and responsibilities, which include the basic rights that are extended to all citizens such as privacy and speech. The eighth element is digital health and wellness. Constant Internet usage can take a toll on posture, eyesight, and mental health. The ninth and last element is digital security. Digital security relates to the protection of personal and private information, images, and content kept digitally. (Ribble, 2015). Each of these elements are important for functioning as a digital citizen. I will be focusing on digital access, digital literacy, and digital health and wellness as it relates to teaching, being a student, and participation as a digital citizen outside of school and work. Digital Access Depending on where you work and what you teach, having digital access can be a struggle and frustrating. Many districts are becoming 1:1, where students and teachers each have their own digital device such as a MacBook, Chromebook, or iPad. Just as many districts are gaining these opportunities, many are not. Funding, budgeting, grants, and parent involvement could all play a role in the access of technology to teachers and students. In 2016, it was reported that for every five students at least one computer is provided in public schools in the United States and more than three billion dollars is spent per year on digital content. (Harold, 2016). Digital access as a graduate student, from my perspective, is not a challenge. Of course this is different per individual. In order to be successful as a graduate student who takes courses online, high-speed Internet, a modern and functioning computer or laptop with apps such as Microsoft Office, and access to necessary websites are crucial. Fortunately, I have access to all of these but I know there are some who do not. Scholarships and student discounts are available to assist in some cases. Equitable digital access is made possible for most collegiate students through campus libraries and computer labs. It is important to note that not all campuses provide the same types of resources therefore digital access is not equitable across all collegiate campuses. Still, institutions of higher education provide many digital resources through tuition. The fascination and need to have the newest and latest technology is a privilege for some and for others, not a reality. When it comes to acquiring digital devices for personal use (cell phones, video game consoles, tablets, laptops) money is the deciding factor. Technology is a luxury and having the latest models can be quite costly. Digital access to the newest and best devices is simply not equitable because everyone does not have the same income or desires to purchase expensive digital devices. Digital Literacy Digital literacy as a teacher is vital in a 21stcentury classroom. Many textbooks now come with a digital component where lesson plans, lessons, videos, games, and projects are all necessary to complete or enhance a lesson. Teachers must be able to navigate the web for resources to supplement their lessons and they must know how to use specific apps and software for learning and teaching. It is especially important for teachers to be innovative in their own ways by creating new ways to integrate cellphones, social media, and other apps into their lessons. As a graduate student, having digital literacy is essential. Everything I need to know is posted online. Everything that I turn in or submit is also online. The platforms for email, assignments, lectures, exams, readings, and library databases are all web-based. In addition, handling important procedures such as registering and paying for courses in also handled online. In order to be successful, it is critical to understand how to navigate a college’s or university’s websites and digital resources. Keeping up with the times or staying relevant, as some may say, is a part of digital literacy. If you happen to get a new iPhone or tablet it would be good practice to know how to use it. Understanding social media, apps, and new acronyms and lingo used digitally is also digital literacy. It is essentially digital education. Personally, I listen to the National Public Radio (NPR) podcasts such as Focus on Technology, TED Radio Hour, and Accidental Tech Podcast to learn about and keep up with new innovations in the tech world. (Smith, 2018). Digital Health and Wellness Teachers (and parents) must be cognizant of the way they are using technology in front of children. Constantly sitting in front of a screen, talking or texting on a cellular device, and scrolling through social media is not a great example to set for students. According to Shapiro (2014), in order to minimize dependence on technology for social interactionswe need to encourage healthy face-to-face interactions.Just like most things, technology should also be used in moderation. Similar to overloading students with busy work from worksheets, the same can be done with online work. All methods of teachingdo not have to be digital. Technology can definitely enhance a lesson but it does not make a lesson. Furthermore, modeling learning through technology, nature, lab experiments, and in-person conversations creates a wider range of learning opportunities for students. It’s crucial that students only live one life. School is a great place for kids to become responsible digital citizens who use technology effectively, creatively, and wisely. (Ohler, 2011). Digital health and wellness as a graduate student can sometimes be overlooked. Many times as students we are focused on reading in-depth articles, typing lengthy assignments, and creating professional presentations. We get caught up behind the screen, stay up late nights and miss out on social gatherings. Some may say it is just a sacrifice in order to achieve greater accomplishments. Personally, though it may not always be easy, I feel that self-discipline, good organization and time management practices can contribute to better health and wellness as a graduate student. Of all the elements, digital health and wellness is particularly important to me. Health and wellness in general has always been something of interest and concern to me. Unfortunately, when it comes to being a digital citizen, many people including myself may not have realized the toll social media and the constant need to be in the know can take on your health and well being. It is easy to fall in a trap and lose countless hours by becoming engulfed in the rabbit hole of endless information-- whether it is useful or superficial information. I have learned to take care of myself by limiting the time spent on social media and Google. This has helped to ease my mind and promote interactions with people and nature in real life. In conclusion, digital access, digital literacy, and digital health and wellness play an important role in the lives of many. Many of us are multi-faceted individuals where we juggle being educators, professionals, students, parents, spouses, artists, innovators and regular human beings all at the same time. In preparing this essay, I knew that this would also translate to our work and lives in the digital sphere. With that being said, our roles as digital citizens are also multi-faceted. I believe my approach is effective because it relates to me as well as others who manage many different roles in their daily lives.
References Harold, B. (2016). Technology in education: An overview. Education Week, retrieved from https://www.edweek.org/ew/issues/technology-in-education/index.html Ohler, J. (2011). Character education for the digital age. Educational Leadership, 68(5),
187-205. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-