Reflecting on Digital Citizenship

I knew how to teach my children to cross the road safely, not to play with matches and how to swim.  But when it comes to digital citizenship and navigating the muddy waters of social media, I have been struggling to keep up both at home and in the classroom.  Over the last 13 weeks I have been learning and reflecting on digital citizenship education.  I have come to realize the imperativeness of incorporating digital citizenship into my teaching.  “Teachers, media specialists, and technology people must gain awareness, educate themselves, and be ready to take action as soon as students enter the school doors.” (Hollandsworth, Dowdy & Donovan, 2011, p. 40).  This means I must weave digital citizenship throughout my lessons, throughout the year.

"Hanging Out" - Personal Photo

“Hanging Out” – Personal Photo

It Takes a Village – Parents, teachers, media, and the community must all work together to teach and model digital citizenship skills.  “Like a village, the K-12 professional community must develop common ground that advocates the use of technology in the classroom while preparing the student to make sound choices both for themselves and for others in the digital world.” (Hollandsworth, Dowdy & Donovan, 2011, p. 39).

Digital Citizenship is an Essential Skill – “Lack of digital citizenship awareness and education can, and has, led to problematic, even dangerous student conduct. If our educational village does not address these issues, the digital culture establishes its own direction, potentially pushing a productive, long-term solution further out of reach.” (Hollandsworth, Dowdy & Donovan, 2011, p. 37).  It is essential students to navigate the Web ethically, safely and effectively.  We only have to listen to the news to substantiate the importance of digital citizenships skills.

Take Ownership of Your Digital Footprint – Students are learning to collaborate, communicate, create and work collectively online.  As good digital citizens they have the potential to make positive contributions to their community and the world.  “Equally important is conveying the idea that being safe and responsible online does not mean hiding your identity but rather defining it and owning it.”  (Neilson, 2010).  Can we all be proud of our online identities?

Let’s Go Scubadiving –  How do we as educators prepare ourselves to teach digital citizenship and achieve deep personal learning?  “It is whether what are now called “one shot” workshops are an effective way of providing teacher education and development on the integration of technology into the classroom. The answer is no, it is not.” (McGrath, Karabas, & Willis, 2011, p. 2).  If one-day workshops or parachuting ‘experts’ in for Professional Development are ineffective, what will help us go deep in our learning?  Guided practice, making a commitment to learning, reflecting, ongoing support, collaborating with colleagues and those serendipitous hallway conversations will all contribute to teacher development.  “They [teachers] wanted more focus on the way the technology could be used in the classroom – more models, more examples, and more chances to work on creating lessons that take advantage of the new technologies and new pedagogies.”  (McGrath, Karabas & Willis, 2011, p. 12).  Ultimately, using the TPACK model will guide our teaching and learning (Mishra & Koehler, 2006).

Be Proactive – Student digital behaviors can have a positive or negative impact on their social circles and relationships, future careers, and overall safety.  Parents and teachers need to work together Parents to raise good citizens who can think critically and make informed, ethical decisions.  “A constant thread, throughout all the interviews, points to a proactive approach for effective digital practices. These opportunities will consist of effective digital citizenship curriculum, peer mentor programs, effective role models, educational faculty/staff awareness, enhanced awareness of the risks, and most importantly – a proactive versus reactive approach.” (Hollandworth, Dowdy & Donovan, 2011, p. 39).

“It’s not the tools students need to learn, but how to be responsible digital citizens.” (Bradbury, 2012).


Bradbury, J. (2012, May 24).  TeacherCast Podcast #21. Creating Your Digital FootprintRetrieved from:

Hollandsworth, R., Dowdy, L., & Donovan, J. (2011). Digital citizenship in K-12: It takes a village. TechTrends: Linking Research and Practice to Improve Learning, 55(4), 37-47.

McGrath, J., Karabas, G., & Willis, J. (2011). From tpack concept to tpack practice: an analysis of the suitability and usefulness of the concept as a guide in the real world of teacher Development. International Journal Of Technology In Teaching & Learning, 7(1), 1-23.

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for integrating technology in teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054.

Nielsen, Lisa. (2010, July 18).  Controlling your digital identity is as easy as 1-2-3.  The Innovative Educator.  Retrieved from:


One thought on “Reflecting on Digital Citizenship

  1. Hi Debbie,
    I really like the way you have used the term ‘scuba diving’ in relation to educators attempts in making digital citizenship an interwoven core element in the education of their students today. In my mind this truly creates an image of going deep into the concepts and deriving relevant meaning of the implications of digital citizenship. Without doing so the importance of digital citizenship may never come to the surface of learning and teaching in today’s media centric world. As Ohler (2011) point out the role of a teacher has changed forever and they “must teach content and skills that are continually evolving and prepare students for a future yet unknown.” There is no doubt that the learners today are required to be collaborative critical thinkers. I do agree with Crichton, Pegler & While (2012, p. 29) that “teachers need to be treated as learners and their learning must be honored and personalized and supported.” But are workshops, guidance and professional development enough? First and foremost they need to be exemplary models of good digital citizenship for the learners in their life. The teaching of digital citizenship is incomplete or perhaps not as meaningful if we don’t live up to the true rationale of a good digital citizens .After all, everything in our life is ‘mediated’ and has become digital. For example one does have to a victim or a bully to understand cyberbullying. More important is to realize the sensitive nature of the subject, empathize and take measure to stand up to it if there ever is a need. Hence, the lives we live today, knowledge is the power and the key and this knowledge must entail within it the imperative nature of digital citizenship.


    Crichton, S., Pegler, K., & White, D. (2012). Personal devices in public settings: lessons learned from an ipod touch / ipad project. Electronic Journal Of E-Learning, 10(1), 23-31.

    Ohler, J. (2011). Digital citizenship means character education for the digital age. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 48(1), 25-27.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s