Week 1 Assignment – Part 5

Below is a brief synopsis of Ribble’s Guiding Principles: 

  • Safety – This refers to the importance of protecting citizens in the digital realm.  It is a responsibility for all to advocate and diligently protect oneself and others.
  • Savvy – This refers to developing educated digital citizens into wise, practical, discerning members of the digital world.  Ribble (2017) summarizes this as “educate yourself, educate others.” 
  • Social – This refers to a mindful awareness as a citizen of the digital world.  It is vital to respecting yourself and others as digital citizens. This principle relates to the golden rule of “treat others how you’d like to be treated.”  A good citizen respects themselves and others. 

Ribble categorized the elements into three main parts in which:

  • Directly affect student learning and academic performance, 
  • Affect the overall school environment and student behavior
  • Affect student life outside the school environment.

I put the words in bold I found to be important when narrowing the reason why each element was categorized in this capacity.  The first category related to student learning and performance encompasses Digital Literacy, Digital Communication, and Digital Access.  I believe this is because these three elements directly affect a student’s ability to effectively participate in learning. A student without access to online resources and learning will most likely not perform at the same level as their peers who do have access.  It is an equitable issue to provide resources to ALL students if the state’s learning standards are expecting ALL students to perform at a certain level. The second category regarding student behavior and school environment encompasses Digital Rights & Responsibilities, Digital Security, and Digital Etiquette.  In a school that is able to provide students with a 1:1 device, this may be a first priority in helping students not only understand the responsibility of conducting oneself online, but the consequences, dangers, and awareness of others that come with this great responsibility. It is a privilege to take part in all that technology has to offer, therefore students must be educated on etiquette and respect for others regardless of the context.  This directly affects the school’s safety overall and culture. If cyberbullying is an issue at a school, it is likely the environment will be hostile, the culture divided, and spirit crushed. This will further affect the first category of student performance. The primal need for all is to feel safe. Only then will we be able to fully meet our potential academically or creatively. The third category regarding life outside the school environment encompasses Digital Commerce, Digital Law, and Digital Health and Wellness.  These are elements that affect the community (including the students) outside of the school environment. Digital commerce and law will most likely affect the students’ parents, which could trickle into the home environment. Digital Health and Wellness highlights the physical and psychological effects on society due to too much screen time. This directly affects the skyrocketing rates of depression, anxiety, and physical symptoms related to vitamin deficiencies. The 3rd category has the capacity to effect category 2 and 1 without proper boundaries/education framing the needs.

Below is a brief synopsis of Ribble’s Nine Elements:

  1. Digital Access is related to equitable distribution of technology and online resources to the community.  This extends beyond access at school into students’ homes as well. Academic institutions need to be aware of the needs in the community, and provide learning opportunities that will meet the needs of every community member regardless of access.  Educators need to provide free access within the community to help alleviate the disproportionate access to online resources some community members may face.
  2. Digital Commerce relates to the “electronic buying and selling of goods and focuses on safeguards to assist those involved.”  This encompasses persons buying, selling, banking, or any form of monetary transaction in the digital realm. It helps to educate students about a path to a future career through the use of technological tools. 
  3. Digital Communication and Collaboration relates to the “electronic exchange of information” in which participants clarify their intention so their message is understood in the digital realm.  This can extend to students finding their voice and expressing their “digital footprint” on society through platforms such as blog sites, social media, ePortfolios, and professional exchange of information through email or webinars.
  4. Digital Literacy relates to the process of teaching and learning about technological tools and the proper use of these tools.  As technology advances, so should digital literacy of the users. This element discusses how as technology has advanced, often the learning time is dedicated more to how to use the technology rather than appropriate or inappropriate actions conducted online once the user understands how to use the tool.  We need better systems in place to help support users (in our specific case: educators and students) on how to best support learning through the use of these tools. There is currently little professional development in place to take advantage of the many valuable resources technology provides in elevating the learning experience.  As these tools move from physical devices to the cloud, the users must understand the processes in how all of this works to use it to their advantage responsibly.
  5. Digital Etiquette refers to the empathetic or awareness of others when conducting yourself online.  It supports the 3rd element of communication and collaboration. Etiquette is a vital social skill one must possess in both the physical and digital realm.  It is a citizen’s duty to conduct oneself with others in mind so as to be mindful that everyone is valuable and deserves respect.
  6. Digital Law refers to the laws and policies in place to protect users online.  In the same aspect ast the real world, crimes are crimes no matter where they’re committed. Therefore, these laws have been created to provide protection to all participants.  Such crimes that are conducted online range from cyberbullying and sexting. It is vital that school faculty are aware of these dangers so as to educate students about the rules, consequences, and protections in place.
  7. Digital Rights & Responsibilities refers to the requirements and equal rights/freedom extended to everyone in the digital world.  Users should be able to expect respect when they share online. It is an extension of oneself when users post personal information such as a picture, poem, song, or creative expression.  Therefore it is vital that all users understand that this directly relates to Jefferson’s quote that the basic human right to pursue “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Part of this pursuit is to feel safe when expressing oneself as long as it is not harmful to the rest of society.  It all leads back to being respectful and responsible for all humans or members of society. It is our responsibility to advocate for this right for all.  
  8. Digital Health & Wellness relates to the physical and psychological well-being of the user.  A hot topic in our society right now regards screen-time in the lives of our students, and how this directly affects their physical/psychological health.  Educators need to be mindful with implementing technology within the classroom as to not abuse these screen-time guidelines, but to enhance learning. Interacting online has the capacity to refuel or deplete the user’s energy, therefore it is important that the user is consciously aware of what and when this is happening.  Students face a different kind of world today than we did as children, one that could be a valuable expression of themselves, but it has often turned into cyber-bullying or comparing one’s own life with others which in turn can cause detrimental psychological effects. Comparison is the thief of joy, so we must be diligent as educators to teach our students about the physical/psychological effects this screen time can have on their well-being.
  9. Digital Security (self-protection) refers to the precautions to guarantee safety online.  This supports the Digital Law element in which users must understand that crime in the form of hackers, viruses, or bots can cause severe damage to someone’s personal information or device itself.  It is important to understand that when using devices in any location, a diligent awareness of attacks and how to prevent them is a skill all users should possess. This can also support Digital Literacy.  As technology advances, so will the need for digital security and the risks that come with new technology/unfamiliarity. It is an ever-changing world thanks to technology, therefore we must educate with this awareness in mind. 

The elements that are important to my context are listed and explained below:

Digital access

This is at the root of what many schools with limited funds face in order to educate students on how to properly understand the rest of the elements.  If students do not have a one-to-one ratio of technology, it becomes very difficult to help students gain these skills equally. Personally, my class does station rotations so students have the opportunity to use our chrome-books that I raised money for from Donor’s Choose, but only 4 at a time.  This means that for my class, my students only have access to this technology a small percentage of the week. I have a few students that do not have computers at home due to financial difficulties. This limited access makes creating a 21st century classroom difficult. I would hope that district leaders would put more effort into raising money specifically for technology so that every student has access to updated/security protected technology.  To expand on this dream, it would be beneficial if my students could have the ability to participate in a truely blended learning environment and take this technology home. The idea of BYOD (bring your own device) seems like a viable solution for my school’s access dilema, but for this to work,we would need to have clear policies in place for this vision. We would also need to educate parents, students, and teachers on how to use this technology effectively to ultimately elevate the learning experience.

Under the circumstances that students have access, the next element that I believe to be of utmost importance is for students’ ability to safely navigate the internet. This points to element 9-Digital Security.  Schools need to implement firewalls and ensure security on every device used by a child.  If these security measures are not adequately in place, it makes it difficult for teachers to monitor and be able trust that on their time, students are safe from the dangers of the internet. Teachers could rest at ease knowing that even if a student wants to find it, a secure system will ensure they will not no matter how hard they try.  Establishing firewalls on the school internet also eliminates the battle teachers face when asking a student who is intentionally misusing the technology to go to a site that is “school-friendly” and safe. If a school cannot provide a safe digital learning environment for students, it sets a battleground between the teacher and students, concerned parents, and paperwork describing every action taken by the teacher to prevent it from happening in the first place.  This precious learning time is then wasted because the boundaries were not set at the district level to begin with.  

A culmination of digital communication and literacy are given when teaching students how to appropriately navigate and communicate on the internet.  Most of my students have phones, and scarily enough in some cases, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok accounts.  It is highly likely that the judgement of an elementary student lacks discernment when faced with the risks that arise while interacting online. If students are left to their own devices without proper education of the safety precautions they must take when interacting online, the many the risks they may face mentioned in Digital Citizenship in Schools is high (Ribble, 2011). This relates with the element Digital Security, but how students communicate or receive communication is important.  They need to understand that what they say on the internet could possibly affect them at any point later in their life. When students are active on social media in early childhood, it is likely that they will innocently navigate these platforms as a safe space, not fully understanding that not every person on the internet is who they say they are. I want to make sure I communicate and educate my students that literacy and communication face to face are important, social cues are important, and a healthy distrust for strangers is also important in staying safe.  This directly translates to digital communication/literacy. The rules don’t change just because it’s online, in fact, the rules should be stricter since people can be whoever they want to be on the internet.  

Digital Health and Wellness

I can already see the psychological effects too much screen time has had on students in the last 7 years of teaching.  They have never known life without screens. I have witnessed the addictive and sometimes hostile behaviors that immediately follow when they’re asked to put screens away.  Their reaction outweighs their perceived “problem” which is when screen time has come to an end. The addiction is definitely something I see in my 3rd graders and often hear from their parents that the issue extends at home.  Not only are their psychological effects, but the amount of exercise children get declines with the higher use of screen time unless it is a physically interactive game. In most cases, the students who have more screen time are also indoors which could then lead to deficiency in Vitamin D from the sun, and the fact that less play/outdoor time leads to anxiety and depression.  Students are increasingly becoming “connected” online but disconnected in real life. This leads to children not connecting to their present reality enough to cultivate vital social-emotional skills with others or themselves. If this trend continues, many could wake up when their old and wonder where their life went, or even worse, not even notice because they were too distracted by screens to care.  


Ribble, M. (2011). Digital citizenship in schools: Second edition. International Society for Technology in Education.

Ribble, M. (2017). Digital citizenship: Using technology appropriately. Retrieved from: http://www.digitalcitizenship.net/