This paper is a digital citizenship education proposal aiming to explore the competence level of Saudi Arabia teachers working in different grade levels of teaching. The proposal focuses on such core definitions as the e-citizenship and the digital citizen considering them through the literature review related to the topic. In particular, Ribble’s, Bearden’s, and Ohler’s as well as other scholars’ approaches were reflected carefully.
Furthermore, the proposal identifies a methodological basis for the perspective research. Based on the use of scholarly sources concerning the research design, the paper specifies the significance of the topic, its credulity, and transferability that are essential to prove that digital citizenship is worth studying. Also, the proposal focuses on Saudi Arabia’s educational setting as well as general Saudi Arabia teachers’ attitudes towards teaching. Each section of the paper is thoroughly structured to make it comprehensible.
Information and communication technologies have transformed the world into a small village so that people from different sides of the globe can easily interact with each other. This revolution of information and communication technology led to the establishment of digital citizenship that is also known as the e-citizenship. The core problem is that digital citizens should be aware of standards, rules, ideas, and principles to ensure the best possible and positive use of technology.
In this regard, this proposal is devoted to the investigation of the key issues associated with digital citizenship including terms, literature review, and methodological basis. Through examining the mentioned issues, it is expected to identify the importance and awareness of the topic among Saudi Arabia teachers.
Taking into account the specifics of the chosen theme, the main research questions and sub-questions for this study might be determined as follows:
- Q1: What scope of awareness do Saudi Arabian teachers have about digital citizenship in relation to Ribble’s categories (respect-educate-protect)?
- Is there a significant difference among levels of awareness of Ribble’s categories in Saudi Arabia teachers?
- Is there a significant difference between Saudi Arabia teachers’ gender in their awareness of digital citizenship?
- Is there a significant difference among Saudi Arabia teachers’ grade level of teaching (elementary – middle – high school) in their awareness of digital citizenship?
- Is there a significant difference between Saudi Arabia teachers’ years of experience in their awareness of digital citizenship?
- Q2: What are the perceptions of Saudi Arabia teachers about digital citizenship awareness regarding Ribble’s categories?
The significance of the study cannot be overestimated considering the relevance of digital citizenship to the modern world. E-citizenship penetrates every layer of society due to its access to web network and web-based tools. More to the point, digital citizenship offers a great variety of opportunities such as massive access to resources, effective learning, and active participation in the global community.
At that, several problems tend to occur as a result of the neglected rules of digital citizenship. Ethical rules and legal controls govern the digital community pointing out several cases of violation that are associated with information credibility (Missingham, 2015). Considering that teachers are to provide solely credible information, it is crucial to improving their digital competence to achieve high-quality teaching.
The latter would also eliminate the current gap between students and teachers. According to Hicks, Lee, Berson, Bolick, and Diem (2014), another problem relates to technical and psychological risks. Socializing within the digital community, the students should also be aware of risks and ready to prevent any violations. With this in mind, it seems appropriate to initiate special teacher training programs aimed to enhance their digital competency as well as increase the level of awareness so that they can ensure the proper use and interest in digital technology among students. These measures, in turn, would lead to the formation of a safe and secure learning environment based on the e-citizenship.
Thus, the key terms of this study involve the following ones: digital citizenship, e-citizenship, the digital community, and the digital citizen. Nowadays both parents and educators are in dire need to promote a policy of protection motivating students to develop skills and knowledge of digital citizenship. Speaking of limitations of the study, it is essential to emphasize that there is a lack of topic understanding. Undoubtedly, some information related to the theme is presented by scholars. However, it is evident that the research focusing on Saudi Arabia teachers is insufficient and needs to be developed.
Digital citizenship rapidly becomes an integral part of the modern world. It is especially important in the context of technology-reach learning and teaching. To understand the concept of e-citizenship deeper, it is essential to pay attention to several definitions and approaches given by different scholars. According to one of the most thought-provoking approaches by Ohler (2010), “this concept arises from the need to reconsider who we are in light of the globally connected infosphere, in which we find ourselves” (p. 4).
The Internet becomes one of the most powerful instruments to receive and share information changing the very paradigm of acquiring knowledge and skills. The scholar connects the concept of digital citizenship with the establishment of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards aiming to ensure national standards for the technology used with the aim of learning and teaching. ISTE standards consist of the three focal levels including local, global, and digital.
In turn, Larson and Miller (2011) state that ISTE standards started a new era of standardized support, recognition, and the articulation of digital technologies. In this connection, the adherence to the above standards should be accompanied by their clear explanation and detailed understanding by both students and teachers.
A community-based approach to digital citizenship teachings is suggested by Bearden who considers that it is a free learning environment promoting students’ engagement and friendly atmosphere (Goins, 2016). At the same time, the safety and awareness of e-citizenship should be provided as well. Similar ideas are reflected by Ribble (2015) who develops the notion of traditional citizenship claiming that users’ are citizens of the world. According to Ribble (2015), the educators’ role is to “look at technology, not as a collection of toys and gadgets, but as tools that allow individuals to communicate, and, ultimately, create a new society” (p. 20). Digital citizenship embraces a range of significant goals that are presented below:
- Teaches how to behave appropriately in the online environment;
- Recalls the importance of information, intellectual property, and resources protection;
- Stimulates and prevents misconduct to other digital citizens;
- Calls to avoid sharing inappropriate or harming information and publishing it;
- Reminds that any type of digital piracy is a crime (Bennett, Wells, & Rank, 2009);
- Teaches how to work together and appreciate what people have and what they use.
Digital citizenship offers several instruments and approaches related to different areas of performance. However, to utilize them appropriately, it is necessary to take into account how people relate to the world, what they want, and what are their rights and obligations. Consequently, e-citizenship not only provides knowledge and skills but also requires motivation and responsibility. In this connection, let us reflect on several aspects of digital citizenship teaching and learning in detail.
As an online platform, Web 2.0 means that there is no need to use other software to access a product or a service (Greenhow, Robelia, & Hughes, 2009). For example, it was impossible to observe PowerPoint Presentations or Excel Spreadsheets without special programs. At present, all the user need is a browser that ensures contact with Internet technology. The Web 2.0 tools are various and might involve wikis, virtual learning environments (VLE), interactive whiteboards, social networks, as well as plenty of others (Greenhow et al., 2009). These instruments might be applied at any stage of teaching and learning to serve as a means of information obtaining sharing, and discussion.
In the context of K-12 that refers to both primary and secondary education, digital citizenship is to make a revolution through technology-rich learning and teaching. Hollandsworth, Dowdy, and Donovan (2011) emphasize the need for continuous e-citizenship education beginning from the kindergarten to the twelfth grade. Seeing that digital technology enhances visual and auditory perception, the teachers are to use the above point positively and creatively contributing to the development of students.
Nevertheless, educators should prepare a common ground for the perspective digital development applying “citizenship curriculum, peer mentor programs, effective role models, educational faculty/staff awareness, and enhanced awareness of the risks” (Hollandsworth et al., 2009, p. 39). In turn, such preparations would lead to the increased responsibility of students along with their increased interest in using digital technologies.
As it was stated before, Ribble (2015) identifies the concept of e-citizenship as something more than just teaching, in particular, as the preparation for a technology-based society. The scholar distinguishes the nine elements, each of which incorporates awareness and respect for other digital citizens: digital access (electronic participation in digital community), digital commerce (digital economy), digital communication (in cyberspace), digital literacy, digital etiquette (an expected behavior), digital law, digital rights and responsibilities (privacy, freedom of speech, etc.), digital health and wellness, and digital security (Ribble, 2009).
The enumerated items compose Respect, Educate, and Protect (REP) principles elaborated by the mentioned scholar, respectively. The significance of these principles becomes especially evident when considering the statement by Ohler (2010): “members of digital gatherings feel they belong to a real community, and thus project themselves into cyberspace in ways that have meaning and emotional significance” (p. 42).
Speaking more precisely, respect is for the proper treatment of others concerning their cultural or other peculiarities, education refers to digital literacy, and protection means the awareness of risks and standards of digital citizenship. Providing an in-depth analysis of the theme, Ribble (2015) realized that the teachers should take the role of technology leaders discussing current problems and suggesting their appropriate and timely decision in the context of the e-citizenship. Moreover, they are to assess priorities, filter information, and motivate students.
The modern higher education is a system of stable yet free to innovation institute that also needs to be equipped with the access to the Internet-based resources to provide the students with theoretical knowledge and practical experience (Albugami & Ahmed, 2015). If e-citizenship education is a learning tool, then for teachers, it is a source of opportunities for information obtaining and continuous improvement of their teachings.
Delacruz (2009) claims that technology-based learning ultimately promotes the implementation of new human capabilities in the educational process. Higher education strives to provide every student with an adequate learning environment (Delacruz, 2009). Therefore, by using digital technologies, educators should issue information in the most acceptable way paying attention to students’ level, preferences, and goals of a certain course or a project.
In the context of higher education, it seems essential to pinpoint a distance learning that tends to become rather widespread due to several factors listed below. The pivotal focus is given to the flexible nature of this learning (Albugami & Ahmed, 2015). The students are free to study materials and conduct researches at any time and in any place as well communicating with the teachers in the most comfortable way (Collins & Halverson, 2009).
Another factor determining the increasing popularity of distance learning is remote access to a wide range of learning materials. The students are free to access various databases, web-based tools, and other instruments to study the most relevant issues related to their area of education (Collins & Halverson, 2009). The last but not least factor is a democratic nature of distance learning as every person regardless of their age, gender, and ethnicity has an opportunity to apply for such a form of higher education.
Considering the changing learning environment, scholars stress the need for changing the role and attitudes of teachers as well. Particularly, Borko, Whitcomb, and Liston (2009) believe that educators should be psychologically and technically ready to apply digital citizenship principles. This means that their approach to the utilization of digital technologies is to be perceived and rational based on knowledge, experience, and the students’ expectations (Borko et al., 2009).
At the same time, experimentation, and creativity introducing innovations in the educational process should become an integral part of their performance (Albugami & Ahmed, 2015). It is essential to point out that digital citizenship teacher preparation makes educators more intelligent and secure regarding information comprehension and presentation. Borko et al. (2009) identify the following objectives in e-citizenship teacher training:
- The improvement of the digital literacy of teachers based on critical thinking;
- The awareness of teachers about the features of the digital generation;
- The enhancement of knowledge concerning the broad possibilities of the Internet in the teaching area;
- The methodological support of teachers in their integration with the digital community.
Speaking of the current situation in Saudi Arabia teachers’ training, this issue is problematic due to several factors. The religious domination, the tendency to conservatism, and aspiration to preserve cultural identity complicates the implementation of digital citizenship (Al-Zahrani, 2015). Nevertheless, the country actively participates in international projects related to innovations that promise the wide use of digital technologies and active participation in the digital community.
The purpose of the potential study is to thoroughly explore the concept of digital citizenship in connection to learning and teaching among Saudi Arabia teachers. The study is to reveal peculiarities of e-citizenship education in different study levels, awareness of educators, and their interest along with the readiness to use digital technology appropriately. The research questions were presented earlier in the introduction section.
The theoretical framework of the study is to focus on a structural-functional theoretical framework developed by Durkheim that helps to understand the social system by explaining its important elements (Bryman, 2012). Within the above framework, it is possible to clarify why a person acts in a certain way or why people engage in certain relations and communications. My stance as a researcher is to accurately identify all the core definitions, tendencies, and attitudes of teachers towards digital citizenship. Personally, I believe that the perspective study would contribute to the increased performance of the educators as well as the improved level of teaching.
Qualitative Data Analysis Design
Participants will include Saudi Arabia teachers who are employees in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This will be accomplished via convenience sampling of Saudi Arabia teachers through Skype software.
The data collection procedures will focus on demographic questionnaires and video interviews (Bryman, 2012). The research will involve the use of interviews to help the researcher in understanding the Saudi Arabia teachers’ perceptions about digital citizenship awareness based on Ribble’s categories. No one under 18 will be invited to participate in this study. Participants’ will be asked to take part in individual 45-minute semi-structured video interviews discussing their perceptions about the theme.
To ensure convenience for participants, interviews will be provided in the primary language of participants that is Arabic. Interviews will be digitally recorded by using an audio device and transcribed. After that, the Arabic data will be translated into the English language. The audio recordings will be transcribed. “Audiotapes certainly provide a more accurate rendition of an interview than any other method” (Yin, 2009, p. 109). Data will be processed and organized using NVivo version 10 which helps to analyze qualitative data (Creswell, 2014). NVivo allows the researcher to group typical responses and discover themes that were raised in the interview data. Data will be coded based on themes stated in the research questions.
No personal information will be collected either in written notes or on the audio recordings. Furthermore, no other data such as observations or artifacts will be taken from the participants. No deception of any kind will be used, and the participants will have full knowledge of the purpose of the study beforehand.
Participants will be Saudi Arabia teachers who are employees in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
This part of the study will use a quantitative methodology. After determining the participants, an online questionnaire will be used to investigate the topic through survey research. Survey questions will use five-point Likert scales that range from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree) (Tullis & Albert, 2013). Participation in the survey is fully voluntary so that the respondents are free t choose not to respond to any questions that they do not want to answer.
The following variables were identified for the perspective research: digital citizenship (independent variable) and competence level and attitudes of teachers (dependent variables). It is expected that there will be differences in the quantity and/or quality of various aspects of competence (Bryman, 2012). Taking into account the rapidly growing popularity of digital citizenship, it is of great importance to explore this topic.
The thorough analysis of the collected data is to improve the learning environment by innovating the teaching methods and tools. Competent digital citizenship is to create a safe collaborative environment of online resources that contain tutorials, tools, and other materials to provide effective learning. At that, the conformability of the study will be ensured by the fact of allocation of responses according to the stated research questions.
It is also rather significant to point out that the transferability of the study that can be expanded to other related sectors. For example, it will be possible to discuss the attitudes of students towards the e-citizenship once the data about the teachers’ perceptions were collected. Moreover, transferability will allow making some adequate generalizations to consider the topic on a global scale (Tullis & Albert, 2013). However, there are several limitations to the prospective study. It should be noted that the research in Saudi Arabia cannot be overgeneralized to other Middle East countries despite their similar cultures. Also, within the delimitations of the study, only teachers from Saudi Arabia and distant contact with them will be studied.
Thus, the methodology of the potential research will investigate the topic through both qualitative and quantitative methods to make the study more comprehensive and relevant. It was stated that digital citizenship education is paramount in providing appropriate teacher training. Finally, credibility, transferability, limitations, and delimitations were specified in the framework of methodology.
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