Book Review: DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP IN ACTION by Dr. Kristen Mattson

After eagerly snatching this book at last week’s #ISTE18 conference, I just finished Digital Citizenship in Action by Dr. Kristen Mattson, and am so motivated!!

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Dr. Mattson refreshingly frames her approach to digital citizenship around a very positive, student-centered narrative that aligns with the positive vision my school’s digital democracy team, Viking Network, initiated last year! Each succinct chapter first offers summary of a current, more traditional approach to digital citizenship followed by Kristen’s offering of a more participatory approach that extends the definition of digital citizenship from a set of conduct rules to follow to empowering skills that guide students to actively contribute to their digital communities. I believe approaching digital citizenship this way is crucial in today’s society to help our students grow to become responsible community members who give back to their communities while working toward social justice and equity. Furthermore, practicing these skills online will undoubtedly spill over into their real lives (RL . . . as Kristen pens).

In each chapter, Kristen includes suggested activities, that would work integrated within any content area or digital citizenship curriculum, along with “spotlight” stories of students, teachers and school leaders who’ve successfully implemented innovative ideas that embrace participatory citizenship. I love reading the amazing success stories for inspiration . . . some names and stories of which I recognize from my Twitter PLN!! My favorite part of the chapters, though, may be Kristen’s “You Can Do It!” where she ends with encouragement and quick, attainable methods to put our own ideas into action.

Here is just a sampling of the countless snippets in each chapter that I find useful, intriguing and motivating:

Chapter 1: Creating Spaces for Digital Citizenship – I found the “Digital Citizen Survey” for students that categorizes questions into three parts – Access, Online Activity, Skill Level – to be a useful activity to spawn student discussion and reflection on their current online experiences. This could be a great way to gain some data about students’ digital lives at the beginning of a program or school year.

Chapter 2: Acknowledging Student Voice in Digital SpacesI love the idea Kristen presents in this chapter of a collaboration-based curriculum where students work with staff to develop curricular resources. Students creating short videos, their own Google Slide presentations and lessons on what it means to be digitally responsible is a fantastic way to empower student responsibility in itself.

Chapter 3: Helping Students Understand Their Roles in Digital CommunitiesThe “Consume or Contribute” activity seems like a fun way to raise student awareness on the type of impact (big or small, positive or negative) their various forms of digital communication can make. This activity is a perfect way to get students thinking before they post! (and I like that it gets them moving and actively engaged).

Chapter 4: Participating through Respectful Discourse: Love, love, love the effective vs. ineffective online discussion real examples and charts . . . I see MUCH classroom use for this as well as potential school use for Viking Network to share.

Chapter 5: Networking to Make Meaningful ConnectionsKristen lists five simple steps for students to find and connect with their own digital PLNs – how cool is that?! She offers ways to connect with a broader community . . . . something I am definitely interested in having students do more of this year!

Chapter 6: Making Contributions that Matter:  ❤this quote: “Students cannot be what they cannot see, so make sure to show them plenty of examples of citizens coming together to make an impact in their local and digital communities” (96). This last chapter is chock full of ways to get students excited about and involved in participatory digital work that will make a positive, real impact. The suggestions are versatile enough to be tailored as simply or involved as we need. Kristen offers real platforms and projects to implement.

Shout out to Tara M. Martin for her awesome online tutorials on #booksnaps!!

My head is spinning with implementation ideas that I can’t wait to share with my colleagues and team! There are practical applications for students, teachers and school leaders alike – within individual classrooms and whole schools. Digital Citizenship in Action is a must for every professional development library. It will help arm students with one of the most necessary college and career ready skills  – to become clearly communicative, responsible, active ,members of the society they are about to enter and positively impact!

 

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