Teaching Digital Citizenship is a non-negotiable in my opinion. Judging from the recently released Mapping Digital Literacy Policy and Practice in the Canadian Education Landscape, provincial education ministries are paying attention. There is one significant difference among the provincial reports. While all the reports refer to the importance of digital literacy across the curriculum and the importance of student awareness of their own digital footprint, Nova Scotia stands out for the tone of their report.
In light of the Rehtaeh Parsons cyber bullying case, reported two years ago today, Nova Scotia emphasizes the responsibility of teachers and school staff to be on the forefront of teaching students the importance of their accountability in cyber space. In a report entitled, Respectful and Responsible Relationships: There’s No App for That, the Nova Scotia Task Force on Bullying and Cyber Bullying clearly defines cyber bullying: ” (it) occurs through the use of technology and includes spreading rumours, making harmful comments and posting or circulating pictures or videos without permission. This can include sexting (sending nude or suggestive photos) and other less dramatic invasions of privacy. Cyber bullying can be done by means of a variety of forms of technology using social networks, text messaging, instant messaging, websites, email or other electronic media.” (p. 39)
While every province addresses social media responsibility, Nova Scotia takes the issue upfront and doesn’t mince words about definitions and responsibilities. As educators, we must continually talk about where our students are on social media and what they are posting. The conversation must be continuing about accountability and acceptability Nova Scotia recognizes that responsibility after a terrible tragedy. We must all take note to continue this conversation with our students.
MediaSmarts.ca creates and curates curriculum resources for teaching digital citizenship. It supports Canadian provincial curriculum. Common Sense Media, an American counterpart of MediaSmarts also supports digital literacy. Use these resources, share ideas with other teachers, but, make sure education about social media accountability is threaded throughout your teaching.