Doing it for the better

Digital citizenship is huge.What does it even mean? Why is it important? What does it look like?

The breadth of this subject is overwhelming. So many of the topics we’ve studied in course 1 & 2 could fall under this umbrella: copyright, privacy, collaborative projects, etc, etc.


First, what are we up against?

Once we’re caught up it’s already changed, as mentioned in the video? This highlights the importance of having conversations with our students – also a challenge….hmph

Google’s Digital Citizenship and Online Safety course, unless I missed something – happens often – seems to really focus on general safety and online identity. I didn’t feel as though I gained any new knowledge after taking the course. Could have been because I wasn’t fully pumped to take the course with the start of the new school year and life being busy, but it also could have been that the course leaves much to be desired. Not sure. Perhaps, Google’s message is this: safety is fundamental in all online activity, and our kids need to know this.

Whether or not students see it this way, I don’t know. Students probably have a different definition of digital citizenship – all unique and individual. Which implies to me that we must teach safety and basics to all.

The OBAMA foundation, in its infancy, sees digital citizenship as being an important issue. With that, they ask important questions in the linked article.  I think we can use these questions, not only for ourselves, but also, to guide our students. I’ll use just the first one for this post:

Who’s a model of digital citizenship in your world? Why?

Bottom line: As expert Anne Collier states, “lose the digital in digital citizenship.” Be a good citizen everywhere. In other words, perhaps, what are you doing online, outside of hanging out with friends, to make the world a better place?

In my own experience, I’ve been inclined to post things that serve no purpose, except to share my views (does anybody really care?), complain (I’ve grown up a little and do this less), or stroke my ego (once in awhile everybody needs this – just not every day). Am I doing anything to make the world a better place?

When I contribute to PLNs, personal/family fellowship, or work-related fellowship – then, yes. Could I do a better job and do it more often – probably.

This reminds me of one of my favorite high school teachers. He’s a Jesuit priest somewhere in his 50s now. I know this guy. I know he works countless hours offline – face to face, making the world a better place. What I don’t know is how he finds the time to have an online presence that makes a difference in people’s day to day lives. He is “friends” with all us graduates – hundreds, if not more. Somehow, he manages to wish every single person a Happy Birthday. He doesn’t miss anybody. On top of that, he posts often. His posts are not divisive, ornery, or useless.

His posts always offer cultural or spiritual enrichment. Always.That to me makes him a fine example of a digital citizen.

This helps me at age 34 try and define what I want to do, but I do not think it would help the majority of my students.

Instead, perhaps, it would be in our students’ best interest to see other kids doing it.  We can show them that there are  place online where you can offer your online self, in making the world a better place.

In conclusion, I think at the crux of digital citizenship is knowing how to protect yourself, knowing you’re rights, and participating in a way that makes the world a better place.


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6 Responses to Doing it for the better

  1. Hi Michael,

    Just finished my post as well and you are the first one I’m reading on this topic. We are on the same page when it comes to being a good citizen no matter what, no matter where. This in the first place. However, it doesn’t mean we don’t have to teach them about being good citizens on the web.
    The thing is that some of this stuff we deal on the internet every day are kind of tricky. In the google course, which I agree with you is very basic, it talks about how easy is to track your location after every post. Although some people do it on purpose, I believe the majority has no idea this could happen and I doubt they would post something if they knew. It’s kind of dangerous and scary. And this has nothing to do with being a good citizen or not. But yes, I totally agree that, if you are a good citizen in general, chances are high you are going to be a good digital one as well.


  2. @drosenblatt thanks for the comment, and thanks for making a very important point. Seeing it from the viewpoint of a student – I think I missed on this post – security and dangers are very real, and it is, no doubt, our job to teach them about this. Thanks, Dudley!

  3. Ryan Harwood says:

    I didn’t feel like you missed anything here @mwleyland . School is where students learn to be citizens of the non-digital world too. We teach them to think, to follow instructions, to work with others, to ask questions, how government’s work, all the things necessary to be citizens of the world. I took your post to allude to the same tasks being applied to their digital selves just not as a completely isolated subject.

    I love the idea of the digital citizen roll model too. We ask our kids to research great leaders, why not great digital citizens? I hear a project in the making…

  4. Michael – This quote from your post really stood out to me, “Bottom line: As expert Anne Collier states, “lose the digital in digital citizenship.” Be a good citizen everywhere. In other words, perhaps, what are you doing online, outside of hanging out with friends, to make the world a better place?” I could not agree more with this. I am curious, what is your role in teaching digital citizenship at your school? Do you follow the Common Sense Media Scope and Sequence or do you use another resource?

    I am in the same boat with being better about contributing to my PLN’s as well. Maybe we should set a goal of improving this! When you post what do you use? I am working on my Twitter game still. I like how you worded it as a growth mindset in saying that you could always improve. I am glad to see I am not the only one that struggles to post outside of my comfort zone of this blog and private messages.

    • Abbi. thanks for the feedback and connecting.
      Common Sense seems to be the common sense choice with digital citizenship. I might actually work with Grade 3 next month, following their Scope and Sequence. Thanks for sharing!
      As for my PLN Facebook has a terrific group for International School Librarians. That’s my go to.


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