Big Ideas

Digital Ways: Grow What's Good!

Consider the following elements and aspects of being a digital citizen as described by Ribble (2015):


  1. Respect
    1. Etiquette: understanding what is polite, appropriate, and considerate
    2. Access: gate-keeping, filtering, and digital divide issues
    3. Law: related to copyright, fair-use, and free-speech issues
  2. Educate
    1. Literacy: knowing what tool to use for which purpose and how
    2. Communication: appropriate sharing of information online
    3. Commerce: how to (and how not to) sell and buy online
  3. Protect
    1. Rights & Responsibilities: understanding tech. policies related to appropriate use and cyberbullying; responding appropriately to those policies
    2. Security: protecting your information and your community from hacking, viruses, and unwanted breaches of privacy
    3. Health & Wellness: knowing appropriate boundaries for time and quality use; understanding the physiology/ergonomics of long-term tech use.


I’ve definitely grown in understanding all of these elements of digital citizenship.  I think what has affected me most have been the growing discussions I’ve had with my students.  Over the past weeks, as I’ve been working through this material, I’ve involved them in the discussions.  We’ve become more aware of our own behaviors.  We’ve grown in understanding the tensions involved in using and creating digital media and ‘screentime’.  We’ve become more transparent at admitting our faults.  We’ve become hungry to do what is always on my heart: to grow what is good


This trend of open communication and appropriate transparency with my students is something that I hope will continue as part of my classroom for as long as I have one.  I’m blessed to be able to teach in an environment where character education doesn’t have to be hidden away.  So I plan to continue to use that freedom to grow the best possible future I can!


Not only that, but now I have much more concrete ways to teach my students (and colleagues!) about copyright and ethical issues.  I still have more to learn, but I’m now much more comfortable understanding the issues around Fair Use and copyright ownership than just five weeks ago!


In a bit more sobering way, I’ve also become more aware of my duties and responsibilities with respect to cyberbullying.  I’ve had tons of (mandatory) training about what to do with possible self-harm or abuse.  But we don’t get nearly enough training on the do’s and don’ts of cyberbullying.  It is important to know that the “Turn it off and walk away” approach is probably the most feared (by the victim!) and least likely to be effective!  We bear the responsibility of making sure our interventions are thoughtful, effective, and more thorough than a quick reaction.  After all, wouldn’t you want to protect a young soul from a viral video due to bullying?!

DigItAlways: Grow What's Good! CC BY SA Curtis White 2017

Logo, CC BY SA, Curtis White, 2017


Well,as you’ve probably picked up from my website, I’m really interested in the concept of growth.  It is such a powerful metaphor for our lives, our work, and our souls.  I may be a mess, but I’m a beautiful mess in progress.  I’m not a statue that’s broken beyond repair.  I’m a garden that needs to be tended.  And so are you.  So are my students.  I hope that, as you consider your own self: both online and in reality, that you are finding yourself really digging into what’s good.  If you’ve found my thoughts of interest, perhaps we could talk more!  I’d love to connect.


Ribble, M. (2015). Digital citizenship in schools: Nine elements all students should know (3rd ed.). Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology.

Curtis White, M.S., M.C.E.
High School Faculty
Math, Science, Bible & Computers
Abundant Life Christian School
A Madison Christian School