Week #8 Teachers and Schools Up for the Challenge?

Infusing digital citizenship is an easy enough transition right?

Because I am taking a digital citizenship ad media literacy class the answer is YES, it’s an easy transition for me. But what about those that don’t take these classes? When reviewing the key takeaways from this past weeks literature on the role of educators in teaching digital citizenship I feel that teachers are on a spectrum. They are either not addressing media literacy because they aren’t aware of its importance or relevance, they are already (unintentionally) talking about media messages that support our curricula because they want students to be critical thinkers, or they are digital natives who are comfortable and/or trained to include digital citizenship in their practice.

Photo: Carbon Valley Academy: What are 21st Century Skills?

In any case, it is clear that students need to gain 21st century skills in order to be successful in todays society and they need to understand how to navigate, critique, and construct digital media effectively. It surprised me slightly that the Digital Citizenship SK Ed Planning Guide was published in 2015 and neither the ministry nor our divisions have clear mandates around teaching digital citizenship in our schools. My division has a guide for teachers to work through but it does not delve into Ribble’s 9 elements. Mostly, I think educators are unaware of the need for competencies that develop from media literacy as outlined in the European report provided by Gerry. The workshops I have been exposed to were meant to teach us how to incorporate technology into the classroom with applications. We need a (dare I say mandatory) workshop for ‘Intro the Media Literacy‘ and a follow up with ‘How to teach media literacy in your curriculum‘, as well as ‘Here are some sample lessons and resources to get you started‘. Teachers don’t know about it! As Megan and many others argue, even if they knew about it, they still lack resources. We quite simply need more to go on, we need direction, we need to identify the need for it. We need to add to our current citizenship policy for curriculum and instruction a digital citizenship policy. If the need for teaching digital citizenship is identified and emphasized by our government, divisions, and school leaders they must also provide or direct educators to resources like MediaSmarts but perhaps the greater issue is without training or background knowledge they might not know how to implement the resources effectively. Maybe the powers that be are banking on us to just figure it out, or as Brittney says, leave it to teachers to fit it in somewhere somehow, we are after all teachers so we are definitely amazing, but a little more support (our plates are heaping) and guidance from leadership and colleagues might bring enthusiasm and passion for pedagogical change.

Photo by Canva Studio on Pexels.com

When teachers recognize the importance of media literacy and have a few ideas or, as per Christine’s article, guiding questions to use to support curriculum resources they are currently using, a transition could be relatively smooth. Last year in Health 9, I showed a video about plant based diets and had students consider key questions throughout the video: ‘who is the author’?, ‘are there sponsors’?, ‘what does the data suggest and who are the experts’? ‘who is the intended audience’? Simple discussions about the resources and information we use will get students thinking critically about their constant exposure to various types of media in their daily lives. I believe there is a space in every curriculum to include digital citizenship and media literacy but the problem is lack of teacher knowledge and urgency. So how do we get the word out? Collaboration, professional learning opportunities, and leadership are at the top of my list. A few years ago, an administrator at my school started an initiative where every week at the morning staff meeting a different teacher volunteered to share something cool and innovative they were doing in their classrooms. Would you do this in your school? Would you be willing to take the lead for digital citizenship advocacy? The good stuff is as contagious as the not so good stuff (STI’s and COVID)! Insert health teacher joke!


4 thoughts on “Week #8 Teachers and Schools Up for the Challenge?

  1. There are so many great opportunities to look at digital literacy! I wish that dig cit and dig lit were engrained in the elementary curriculum so we can scaffold these ideas to have more engaged and literate students as we send them off to high school. Too often, students do not have much understanding of this at all when they get to me in grade 8 – which leaves lots of extra work for us to get them ready for high school and understand the dos and don’ts of internet activity.
    Great resources included in your blog! I am trying to use Ribble’s 9 elements as much as I can in my content creation for the major project. Wonderful post… got lots of ideas flowing for me!


  2. This… “We quite simply need more to go on, we need direction, we need to identify the need for it.” Hit the nail on the head right there. Even if we had more awareness about DC, we still need resources and direction to be successful. I feel like I am really a broken record here, but I strongly believe that we should have a mandatory subject that all grade levels have to take in regards to DC. Yes, research shows that it should be integrated throughout every teaching, but until we have a good hold and understanding, as well as a practice we need an explicit course.


  3. I love the sharing within the school- it’s amazing that we don’t know the cool things happening down the hallway. As for the lack of teacher knowledge that you identify, this is a great way to build capacity among your own staff if they can share and see how other teachers use it, and have that support built in! Did you find that collaboration happening in your school during this initiative?


  4. You raise some good points, Cymone. I think you are right when pointing out that many teachers aren’t prepared to venture out into this world. It takes time, patience, and commitment to fully dive into digital citizenship. Professional Development is needed. Lack of resources fits right into this problem as well. Needs are on the rise in the classroom, and quite frankly, from an elementary school viewpoint, teachers view this venture as just another thing being thrown on their plates (which as you said are heaping already). Resources and PD would entice teachers to venture out into this world a little more. Another barrier is the availability of tech for students in schools. Again from an elementary point of view, we don’t have enough tech available to take this task on fully. When teachers have their limited access to the laptop cart, they are using their time for their projects, not teaching. I agree that it is an area that needs t be addressed, but we aren’t there yet with support and resources.


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