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The 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship


Week 1 Reflection:     


     This was the first week of the DLL Digital Citizenship 5316 course.  Our primary focus was on Ribble’s Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship and the first chapters of his book, Digital Citizenship in Schools (Ribble, 2015).  Although I consider myself to have a fair amount of general digital citizenship knowledge, my first week has led me to discover that I may not have known as much as I thought. Overall I think one of the most notable realizations that I had this week is that the old adage “the only constant in this world is change” still holds true.  

    Ribble’s book offers a nice overview of the history of digital citizenship that was new to me.  One of the constants throughout the book is how society, particularly schools, had to adjust quickly with the advent of new technologies. Marshall McLuhan’s 1964 book, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, in which he writes about how media affects society, offers a glimpse into the future. In his book, he predicts “that people will begin to identify technology as one’s self” and his fears that it would lead to the inevitable loss of other skills, like writing a letter. Of course, this concern is still relevant today with social media profiles and Twitter character limits. Ribble also highlights the effect that inexpensive, mobile technology had on schools. At first, schools were quick to simply ban the devices, but in the early 2000s, a new threat in the form of several school tragedies created the need for parents to be able to communicate with their children in case of emergencies. Again, societal shifts forced schools to think about technology in a way never imagined before.  

    As society has changed, sometimes for good and sometimes for worse, people are forced to change with it, or maybe because of it. The technology and knowledge explosion of recent years has created somewhat of a backdraft similar to that of a raging fire.  Google defines a backdraft as “a phenomenon in which a fire that has consumed all available oxygen suddenly explodes when more oxygen is made available, typically because a door or window has been opened”. When technology became affordable, a window was suddenly opened, causing our society to suddenly be thrust into a digital world in which we were ill-prepared.  This then caused a sudden backdraft of problems with no warnings about the dangers of the internet and how constant connectedness and availability can result in consequences of a very different variety than those of the physical world. We had to learn fast and the result was that many simply fell prey to the trappings of an online existence.

    Thankfully we are now beginning to get this thing under control. Schools are learning from the mistakes of others and have begun to embed safety nets like Ribble's 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship within the daily curriculum.  However, many will question whether or not it is the responsibility of schools to teach students how to be safe online. My answer to that is an emphatic YES! We, as educators, must be the ones to fight the flames of online misconduct for the simple fact that many parents do not yet know how.  We must take on the role of firefighters and keep the flames at bay until society has had time to overcome the effects of a technology backdraft. Eventually, there will be no need for a separate digital component to citizenship, but for now, we must do what is ultimately best for our students, by keeping them safe and preparing them to be digital citizens.


Reflection reference: 


Ribble, M. (2015). Digital Citizenship in Schools (3rd ed.). Eugene, Oregon and Arlington, Virginia:

      International Society for Technology in Education.



Additional Resources from week 1:


  • Curran, M. (2012, June). iCitizen: Are you a socially responsible digital citizen. Paper presented at the         International Society for Technology Education Annual Conference, San Antonio, TX. Retrieved f             from (PDF: icitizen_paper_M_Curran.pdf ) 


  • Ohler, J. (2012). Digital citizenship means character education for the digital age. Education Digest             Essential Readings Condensed for Quick Review, 77(8), 14-17.                                                                       (PDF: Ohler_Digital_citizenship_means_character_education_2012.pdf) 



































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