A case study of teaching digital citizenship in fifth grade
ii ABSTRACT The purpose of this case study was to explore the teaching of digital citizenship concepts and standards by fifth grade teachers in the Sunshine School System in Alabama. Digital Citizenship is the understanding of human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology, and the practice of legal and ethical behavior. A case study was chosen in order to explore the teaching of digital citizenship concepts and standards in-depth and discover how the participating fifth grade teachers in this district are educating their students about digital citizenship. The theoretical framework used for this study is the C3 Framework developed by Davina Pruitt Mentle, Ph.D., education and technology expert. There are three dimensions to the model, Cyberethics, Cybersafety, and Cybersecurity that overlap, but also have differences that must be discussed separately. These differences include subject matter and psychological differences. Qualitative data were collected through face-to-face interviews in the teachers’ classrooms, follow-up interviews, classroom observations, and lesson plans. The researcher utilized a cycle of three types of data coding to analyze the data: Holistic Coding (Dey, 1993), InVivo Coding (Charmaz, 2006), and Values Coding (Gable & Wolf, 1993). Themes resulting from the data analysis included technology standards, iPad orientation, student collaboration, real life situations, home connection, teacher control, dependence on computer teacher, false sense of security, digital footprint, social media, AUP/iPad agreements, physical use, plagiarism, citations, and inappropriate behavior. The participants were found to be unaware of the importance of teaching digital citizenship to their students. Although some participants included a small portion of digital citizenship in their discussions with students, none of the participants iii honed in on digital citizenship as an ongoing process. It is important for teachers and administrators to stay abreast of emerging 21st century skills and technology, but not lose sight of the need for teaching students to be responsible digital citizens.