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Digital Citizenship Essay

Laura Ray

Grand Canyon University

TEC 530

November 15, 2017

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Our world is different today than it was just a few years ago. Perhaps people have been

saying that since the dawn of time, but it seems truer today than ever. With ever-changing

technology, the pace at which our world changes and adapts to new inventions is increasing.

Students today learn about and interact with their world in vastly different ways than just one

generation ago. In turn, educators must take note, adapting teaching strategies to fit the needs of

changing cultural norms and expectations, as well as changing job markets and economies.

Teachers employing digital technologies now can help students to be more successful in

navigating their digital world.

One could argue that our modern culture and the culture of technology are one in the

same. Today’s culture, the behaviors and characteristics of a group of people, is so drenched in

technology, that it is impossible to describe without the devices and connections that make up

our interactions. New literacies have arisen in the age of web 2.0 tools such as social media,

web design, blogs, YouTube, in which users interact with the media in addition to consuming it

(Simsek and Simsek, 2013). These applications are part of the everyday experience of youth


Socially, there are 5 characteristics to new media, “choice, conversation, curation,

creation, and collaboration” (Simsek and Simsek, p. 129). Young people today display all of

these as part of their social interactions. Students have the choice of how and when they

communicate. One 11 year old told me that she has very few phone numbers in her phone(about

10), opting to communicate through SnapChat almost exclusively where she has almost 300

“followers”. This concept is foreign to me, but natural to her as she had the social media account

before she even had a phone number. The youth of today is consuming media, particularly

video, daily, opting to watch Youtube even above traditional TV. The draw may be in part due
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to the amount of content, it’s streaming on demand nature, and targeted content, but whatever the

reason, Youtube has over a billion users and over a billion hours of content are watched daily,

according to Youtube itself (2017). This media can be a tool for learning and collaboration for

today’s youth, but we must educate them on how to make this shift from social device to learning


Incorporating technology in the classroom is not as simple as giving a device to every

student and stepping back. Just as with any educational tool, the craftmanship of lessons and

learning content by a skilled teacher can make for successful implementation, and best practices

should be employed by teachers to ensure safe and ethical use. Firstly, teachers must teach.

That is to say that teachers should educate their students about safe and ethical digital practices.

Teachers can use ISTE standards, Common Sense Media, or your local school district as a guide.

The lesson plans on Common Sense Media provide a comprehensive approach to teaching digital

citizenship. In the first lesson for 6th-8th graders, students explore the idea of digital media and

how they use it. This lesson gives a base for later lessons that explore the ideas of privacy,

bullying, and copyright infringement. These lessons serve to teach students about the laws and

ethics of digital use. Following up with the directed instruction, teachers employing best

practices would develop lessons that allow students to demonstrate their learning. For example,

creating a research assignment with a digital presentation allows students to show their

understanding of citation and copyright laws, within the context of their learning. ISTE

standards for students 2c requires students to demonstrate respect for the rights of intellectual

property (ISTE, 2017.

Teachers, as well as the school personnel, must also monitor student use and online

behavior. The second element of best practices would include monitoring, keeping a watchful
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eye on what students are doing while using technology. A monitoring program, like Securly, can

provide data about what students are looking at while online. Providing safe internet access

through filtered connections allows students to use the internet in safer environment. Being

active in the classroom through movement and interaction can also help monitor student

behavior. ISTE standards for educators 3c requires teachers to mentor students in safe and legal

digital practices (ISTE, 2017). By staying diligent in monitoring and holding students

accountable to the school’s Responsible Use Policies, teachers can help students adhere to the

ISTE standards. Additionally, administrators have the responsibility to ensure digital equally for

students, providing access to devices and the internet for those who would not otherwise have

access (Garland and Tadeja, 2013).

Two of Simsek and Simsek’s five characteristics to new media, conversation and

collaboration, relate to how we communicate with others. Using these two concepts in the

classroom helps to raise interest in the class content. One way to get students communicating

online is through the creation of blogs or wikis. With these tools, students add new content to

the web, and can interact with others who are doing the same by commenting on others’ posts.

Creation of website, blogs and wikis is made simple through tools such as weebly or Google

sites, that work with drag and drop formats for ease of use. Students familiar with simple

programs such as Google slides or PowerPoint could easily create websites and blogs. Another

way for students to connect globally is through a program designed to promote global discussion.

PenPal Schools is one program that is designed to connect students and facilitate communication

within the context of problem based learning and research.

The responsibility to be digital citizens resides within each of us who consume and

produce digital content. However, as our children advance through our educational system, it is
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the obligation of educators to give students to tools they need to become ethical digital citizens.

Students who are learning what is means to be active, productive members in our society must

also learn how to become active, productive members of our digital society. By learning about

and participating in the technology culture of our youth, teachers can utilize best practices to

facilitate meaningful learning.

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Garland, V. E., & Tadeja, C. (2013). Educational leadership and technology preparing school
aadministrators for a digital age. New York: Routledge.

ISTE. (2017). ISTE standards for educators. Retrieved November 14, 2017, from

ISTE. (2017). ISTE standards for students. Retrieved November 14, 2017, from

PenPal Schools. (2017). PenPals. Retrieved November 14, 2017, from https://www.penpalschools.com/

Simsek, E., & Simsek, A. (2013). New literacies for digital citizenship. Contemporary Educational
Technology, 4(2), 126-137.

YouTube. (2017). YouTube for press. Retrieved November 14, 2017, from