STRATEGY: Provide digital citizenship and digital literacy training for students and teachers.
Effective school and district leaders provide digital citizenship and digital literacy training for students and teachers so that individuals master the proficiencies and fluencies required to meet with success in an increasingly digital culture. By advancing digital citizenship and digital literacy through well-designed programs and practices, these leaders promote opportunities for teachers and students to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to engage actively and meaningfully in social, cultural, economic, civic, and academic life in both the present and the future. When a community of learners within a school can access a broad range of digital practices and resources, they can effectively navigate online environments to make and share meaning via different modes and formats. Education leaders who assign priority to the development of digital literacy and digital citizenship develop students who can create, collaborate, and communicate effectively so that they emerge from the educational system ready for the future.
Digital literacy refers to the skills and knowledge required to engage critically and creatively with digital technologies across a wide spectrum, while digital citizenship refers to doing the same discerningly and safely.
Generally, students who exhibit digital literacy exhibit mastery of the nuances and complexities of communicating, interpreting, and representing information digitally across different contexts and audiences. They demonstrate proficiency across key elements defined in the literature, which typically includes the effective and efficient use of digital tools and applications; a well-developed understanding of digital tools and content; and the knowledge and expertise to create and communicate with digital technology. As a complement to digital literacy, digital citizenship refers to demonstrating respect and responsibility for self, others, and property.
In specific terms, the International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE) standards describe digital literacy in seven broad categories:
- Empowered learner (taking an active role in achieving learning goals).
- Digital citizen (acting and modeling the use of technology that is safe, legal, and ethical).
- Knowledge constructor (using digital tools to construct knowledge).
- Innovative designer (identifying and solving problems using a variety of technologies).
- Computational thinker (leveraging the power of technological methods).
- Creative communicator (communicating clearly and creatively across different technology platforms).
- Global collaborator (collaborating with others locally and globally).
- The Global Digital Citizen Foundation (GDCF) describes digital literacy through key elements they refer to as essential fluencies:
- Solutions fluency (thinking to solve problems in real time).
- Information fluency (interpreting information in all forms and formats).
- Creativity fluency (adding meaning through design, art, and storytelling).
- Media fluency (interpreting messages contained within media of all sorts and communicating well in multiple multimedia formats).
- Collaboration fluency (working cooperatively with virtual and real partners in online and face-to-face environments).
Additionally, the GDCF references digital citizenship in specific terms as a fluency, with the definition “understanding and respecting that communication, collaboration, dialogue, and debate occur across all levels of society and between citizens of the world.”
First Steps to Consider
As digital technology becomes exceedingly more pervasive, digitally literate students possess confidence in their ability to leverage technology as a resource for developing skills and knowledge. Similarly, students who understand digital citizenship demonstrate responsible behaviors in online environments and exercise discernment as they interact with digital resources.
- Review current policies, processes, and practices to better understand existing support for digital literacy and digital citizenship and to inform areas for development.
- Develop a strategic vision that addresses the importance of digital literacy and digital citizenship.
- Promote a culture of innovation and change in which teachers and students at all levels are involved in conversations about digital literacy and digital citizenship and a range of engagement models are supported.
- Anticipate direct and indirect effects arising from expectations specific to digital literacy and digital citizenship, such as implications for teachers’ workloads, instructional practices, school culture and values, and department structures.
- Understand different audiences and communicate about digital literacy and digital citizenship in those contexts (e.g., according to different subject areas, professional roles, etc.)
- Elevate professional practice by equipping teachers with the tools and professional development needed to advance digital literacy and digital citizenship.
- Identify teacher leaders who can support the implementation of schoolwide expectations associated with digital literacy and digital citizenship.
- Ensure that technology is accessible, current, and readily available to support all students in reaching their learning goals.
- Establish the library as a digital learning hub and design the space to serve as an exemplar of what a focus on digital literacy and digital citizenship might look like.
- Develop a comprehensive digital literacy and digital citizenship framework or model.
- Develop a project management plan to pace the implementation of expectations associated with digital literacy and digital citizenship.
- Embed the use of technology in all subject areas of the curricula to enhance and extend teaching and learning.
- Provide ongoing support to teachers directly or in partnership with school-based and district-level instructional support staff (e.g., technology integration coaches).
- Allocate time for teachers to explore the concept of digital literacy and digital citizenship in relation to each subject area to seamlessly connect digital learning to learning experiences that are already planned and scheduled.
- Promote the formation of communities of practice and professional learning networks across departments and roles to calibrate efforts and consistency of messaging around digital literacy and digital citizenship.
- Ensure that assessments and strategies are in place to measure digital literacy and digital citizenship of students and staff.
- Engage students in an advisory role related to the design and development of digital literacy and digital citizenship expectations, curricula, programs, and initiatives.
- Set expectations for students to use technology in all content areas.
- Determine evidence to be collected to evaluate instruction specific to digital literacy and digital citizenship.
- Identify ways to recognize and celebrate exemplars of digital literacy and digital citizenship.
- Ensure that the budget provides for sustainable and sufficient funding to keep technology current and reliable.
Complexities & Pitfalls
To position digital literacy and digital citizenship at the center of students’ and teachers’ learning experiences, school and district leaders will want to avoid common pitfalls that might limit the seamless and comprehensive incorporation of digital practices into the fabric of the school.
- Failing to adapt or adopt school policies that support teaching and learning for digital literacy and digital citizenship.
- Failing to anticipate and respond effectively to the diverse perspectives of students, parents, community members, and staff in relation to digital literacy and digital citizenship.
- Emphasizing policy expectations over instructional expectations in relation to digital literacy and digital citizenship.
- Expecting technology to serve as a vehicle for transforming pedagogy instead of transforming pedagogy in preparation for technology in the classroom.
- Failing to ensure that all students have access to technology.
- How can school leaders demonstrate the need for change in relation to the development of digital literacy and digital citizenship among students and teachers?
- How well does the school mission and strategic or campus improvement plan support digital literacy and digital citizenship?
- How can school leaders involve students in decisions about digital literacy and digital citizenship?
- What skills, knowledge, and understandings are associated with digital literacy and digital citizenship? For students? For teachers?
- What rules, options, and etiquette will be necessary to best support the attainment of learning outcomes associated with digital literacy and digital citizenship?
- What systems will be implemented to ensure that everyone in the school has equal access to technology?
- How can students best use technology to develop digital literacy and digital citizenship?
- How does the use of technology outside of school by students and teachers potentially relate to their experiences in school?
- What does digital literacy and digital citizenship look like when implemented schoolwide? What does digital literacy and digital citizenship look like in individual classrooms?
- How will performance aligned with digital literacy and digital citizenship be assessed, graded, and reported?
- What are the implications for the emphasis on digital literacy and digital citizenship in terms of the technology infrastructure (e.g., data management, wireless access, etc.)? How does the technology infrastructure support diverse digital practices and flexibility?