Week 6: Digital Citizenship and Responsibility

How can you, as a teacher, support the development of healthy and ethical people?


According to Edutopia, Digital Citizenship

“is an umbrella term that covers a whole host of important issues. Broadly, it’s the guidelines for responsible, appropriate behavior when one is using technology. But specifically, it can cover anything from “netiquette” to cyberbullying; technology access and the digital divide; online safety and privacy; copyright, plagiarism, and digital law, and more. In fact, some programs that teach digital citizenship have outlined no less than nine elements that intersect to inform a well-equipped digital citizen. It’s an overwhelming array of skills to be taught and topics to explore.”

I have been trying to think of some inspiring sentiment that highlights some kind of false binary – the incredible potential of digital technology vs. the danger inherent in the medium.  In practical terms, as a classroom teacher and administrator,  I can certainly speak to the huge amount of my time that has been devoted to resolving / addressing issues that are connected to the misuse (sometimes deplorable misuse) of these platforms.

To name a few of these vicissitudes, I have seen kids; posting fights (and assaults) on Youtube; circulate sexual content / pornography; circulate humiliating and degrading photos of classmates; use social networks to humiliate and destroy others.

There have been far to many tragic stories in the media about the harm that has been facilitated through ‘Social Media’.  Every educator needs to know / learn from the Rehtaeh Parson’s story.  In the BBC Magazine story below, Rehtaeh’s father passionately explains why addressing and preventing Cyber bullying (and a culture that perpetuates sexual assault) is a moral obligation with life and death consequences.

Rehtaeh Parsons: Father of cyberbully victim speaks out

Teaching Digital Citizenship in this light becomes tied a much bigger project.  Far beyond a specific curriculum relating cyber-bullying.  It is bound to a larger project aimed at cultivating self esteem, resilience, agency, wellness and health.

I have also seen students create amazing things – art, music, film.  I have seen students use social networks as a means of grieving and supporting on another.  Student’s interact and build relationships – cultivate solidarity – utilize their own agency to critique, organize and seek change.

To further explore some more tensions from a sociological perspective, watch the following TEDx talk from MIT prof Sherry Turkle.

Key Insight (from U of R ECMP Instructor Millisa Gavel) – Digital Citizenship can not be a single lesson or unit.  Its content and related skills must be holistically woven through much of what we do in the classroom.

The big educational question becomes what does it mean to be a happy, fulfilled, ethical person?  What do we live for?

Below is a very comprehensive video playlist that covers exposes much of the mainstream thinking and some examples of lessons / resources.  Watch all of the videos.

Task:  Collaborate with your classmates using Google Hangout.  Break open the concepts, ideas and your thoughts.

Collaborative Research Project – Google Doc

Today is not about creating a final product but breaking open ‘digital citizenship’.

  • Problems that come from digital tech
  • Advantages to digital tech
  • Key issues to consider
  • A list of terms / vocab
  • Potential resources
  • Key insights for teachers
  • practical tips
  • Resources

Your Google Document needs to be complete by Friday’s lab.  We will use this as a starting point for a face to face seminar.–


Week II:

Digital Literacy – Resources and Approaches 

This week we will look at numerous curriculum resources.  The starting point will be:

Common Sense Media 

Digital Passport

Digital Compass

Digital Bytes



Digital Citizenship Mind Map Activity with MindMup

Google Doc Collab – Part II


Curriculum Review Activity:  Common Sense Media