Digital Citizenship in Education

Dec 6, 2022

The world has changed dramatically over the last 30 years. With the rise of technology and social media, we are now more connected than ever. This digital age we now live in, or technological revolution as some call it, has brought with it a new set of challenges for schools when it comes to teaching young people about digital citizenship and communication.

In the past, schools have focused on teaching their students about physical citizenship, things like being a good person, respecting others and their property, and being an active community member. With the digital age, there is now a need to also focus on digital citizenship, things like being responsible online, managing digital footprints and using digital media for good.

Digital citizenship can be defined as:

“The competent and positive engagement with digital technologies (creating, working, sharing, socialising, investigating, playing, communicating and learning); participating actively and responsibly (values, skills, attitudes and knowledge) in communities (local, national and global) at all levels (political, economic, social, cultural and intercultural); being involved in a double process of lifelong learning (in formal, informal and non-formal settings) and continuously defending human dignity.”[1] – The Council of Europe International

In other words, digital citizenship is about using technology in a responsible and respectful way. It’s about understanding how to stay safe online and knowing how to use digital tools and resources effectively.

The digital world has created new opportunities for us to connect with one another and share information. But it has also created new risks and challenges. As digital citizens, it is important for us to be aware of these risks and challenges and take steps to protect ourselves online. And as educators, it is important to teach our students how to use digital technologies in a way that is safe, responsible and respectful.

We know digital citizenship education is vital, but what does that actually mean?

Digital citizenship education encompasses everything from managing digital identities and online privacy to understanding digital footprints and cyberbullying. In short, it’s about preparing young people to be thoughtful, conscientious and informed users of digital technology.

Digital citizenship is important for several reasons.

First, it helps to prepare students for life and work in the digital world. With digital technologies becoming increasingly prevalent in all aspects of our lives, it is important for young people to learn how to use these technologies safely, responsibly and respectfully.

Second, digital citizenship helps to promote equity and inclusion. By ensuring that all students have the skills and knowledge they need to participate safely and responsibly in digital life, we can help to close the digital divide and ensure that all students have an equal opportunity to succeed.

And finally, digital citizenship helps to create a positive online community. When we all work together to create a respectful and responsible online environment, we can make the internet a safer and more enjoyable place for everyone.

Digital Citizenship and EdTech

EdTech tools and resources have the potential to transform education. They can help us to engage students in new and innovative ways, personalise learning, and promote equity and inclusion. But with this potential comes responsibility.

As educators, we need to be thoughtful about the way we use EdTech in our classrooms. We need to ensure that we are using these tools in ways that are safe, responsible and respectful. And we need to teach our students how to use EdTech tools in the same manner.

When used thoughtfully and responsibly, EdTech can help us to create positive digital citizens who are prepared for life and work in the digital world.

Digital citizenship in schools

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to digital citizenship education. Every school is different and will need to tailor its digital citizenship programme to meet the needs of its students, staff and community.

Here are a few things to consider when developing a digital citizenship program for your school:

1.   Know your audience. Digital citizenship education needs to be tailored to your student’s age and developmental level. The digital citizenship curriculum for elementary school students will look different from the digital citizenship curriculum for high school students.

2.   Make it relevant. Digital citizenship should be integrated into the curriculum in a way that is relevant to the lives of your students. It should be taught in a way that is connected to real-world issues and problems that your students care about.

3.   Be proactive. Digital citizenship should not be reactive. It should be taught in a proactive way that helps students prevent problems before they occur.

4.  Teach critical thinking skills. Digital citizenship education should help students develop critical thinking skills. Students should be encouraged to question what they see and read online and to think critically about the digital content they consume.

5.  Foster positive relationships. Digital citizenship education should help students develop positive relationships with others online. It should teach them how to be respectful and responsible digital citizens.

6.  Promote digital literacy. Digital citizenship education should promote digital literacy. Students should be taught how to use digital technologies safely, responsibly and respectfully.

7.  Encourage student voices. Digital citizenship education should encourage student voices. Students should be allowed to share their thoughts and ideas about digital citizenship with their peers and the wider community.

Digital citizenship is an important part of education in the digital age. By teaching our students how to be safe, responsible and respectful digital citizens, we can help them succeed in school and in life.

What are your thoughts on the digital age, EdTech and digital citizenship?

We would love to know!

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