Digital Citizenship

The topic of digital citizenship is certainly gaining momentum around the world. Whether it is called digital citizenship, digital wellness or digital ethics the issues are the same: how should we act when we are online, and what should be taught to the next generation. Digital Citizenship is more than just a teaching tool, it is a way to prepare students/technology users for a society full of technology.

As teachers, we know the value of good citizenship in the classroom and school community. But today, students need to be good citizens in the digital world as well. Their digital behaviour has a big impact on themselves and others, and what makes good or bad digital citizenship may not always be clear.

One of the first agreements that needs to be made is that preparing students to be literate digital citizens is everyone’s responsibility. Teachers, administrators, parents, and students all play a role.

What can all teachers do in their classrooms to help shape responsible students? (Select all that apply.) From Google for Education “Create Safe, Responsible Digital Citizens”

  • Show students how to create strong passwords
  • Provide opportunities for students to practice good behaviour
  • Create a safe environment for talking about digital citizenship topics
  • Integrate digital citizenship lessons in class.
You should have selected all of them because these are the four pillars to learn Digital Citizenship.

Several organizations have developed support materials and full curricula that can be used when planning instruction. For instance, Common Sense Media’s K-12 Scope and Sequence provides lesson plans, activities, and assessments.

Vicki Davis in an article on Edutopia presents “What Your Students Really Need to Know About Digital Citizenship”. She wants her students to know the “9 Key Ps” of digital citizenship, but for my purpose and for my students I will take into account only these seven Ps extracted from the above-mentioned article:

1. Passwords: Do students know how to create a secure password? Do they know that email and online banking should have a higher level of security and never use the same passwords as other sites?

2. Private information:  Do students know how to protect details like their address, email, and phone number? She recommends the Common Sense Media curriculum on this.

3. Personal information: While this information (like the number of brothers and sisters you have or your favourite food) can’t be used to identify you, you still need to choose who you will share it with.

4. Photographs: Are students aware that some private details (like license plates or street signs) may show up in photographs, and that they may not want to post those pictures? Do they know how to turn off a geotagging feature? Do they know that some facial recognition software can find them by inserting their latitude and longitude in the picture—even if they aren’t tagged?

5. Property: Do students understand copyright, Creative Commons, and how to generate a license for their own work? Some students will search Google Images and copy anything they see, assuming they have the rights.

6. Permission: Do students know how to get permission for work they use and do they know how to cite it?

7. Protection: Do students understand what viruses, malware, phishing, ransomware, and identity theft are, and how these things work?

Digital citizenship is a topic that we need to address more carefully and thoroughly in our schools. Our students must be aware of what they should and shouldn’t be doing, with the goal of keeping themselves safe online.



Digital Natives (part 2)

“Everyone talks about leaving a better planet for our children. Why doesn’t anyone try to leave better children for our planet?”

Many of us grew up in a pre-digital era – we made phone calls and wrote letters, while public information was distributed through broadcast media. But now there’s a whole generation at college that has never known a world without the web. They bring with them a new way of engaging with the world, with information, and with each other.

An excellent video to understand how Digital Natives fit technology and open up to a world where anything is possible.

From Google+, Facebook, and Twitter to SMS and corporate messaging, this generation is developing an instinctive set of behaviors and expectations around these tools. They are very savvy in understanding which medium is most appropriate for the message and for the recipient, whether it’s a dinner invitation or asking someone out on a date.  They know they have to find the appropriate interrupt signal, and that different channels send different signals, with numerous subtleties that we are only just starting to understand:  Following Generation Z

In Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology, Allan Collins and Richard Halverson argue that the knowledge revolution has transformed our jobs, our homes, our lives, and therefore must also transform our schools. Much like after the school-reform movement of the industrial revolution, our society is again poised at the edge of radical change. To keep pace with a globalized technological culture, we must rethink how we educate the next generation or we (the Digital Immigrants) will be left behind. This groundbreaking book offers a vision for the future of American education that goes well beyond the walls of the classroom to include online social networks, distance learning with anytime, anywhere access, digital home schooling models, video-game learning environments, and more.

School leaders and teachers need to understand how learning technologies work and how they change the basic interactions of teachers and learners. Technology leaders need to work together with educators as collaborators in creating new opportunities to learn.

Technology is changing what is important to learn in a variety of ways. There are new literacies that are becoming important, such as creating videos, animations, and web sites. Computers can carry out all the algorithms taught through graduate school, and yet mathematical reasoning is more important than ever. Hence we should spend time teaching students to solve sophisticated problems using computers rather than executing algorithms that computers do well. Memorizing information is becoming less important with the web available, but people do need to learn how to find information, recognize when they need more information, and evaluate what they find. People will be changing careers often and transitions are difficult. They need help going back and forth between learning and work.

As technology continues to transform our society, those responsible for our current systems of learning and education are facing overwhelming pressure to adapt. Education technology, connected learning and the rise of the Networked Society is transforming the established concept of learning, teachers’ roles and even the nature of knowledge itself.

The revolution in education will alter not just the lives of students, but the entirety of modern society. As with any revolution, there are will be both gains and losses. Pessimists see people becoming subservient to their technologies and being left behind as technology comes to dominate our lives. Optimists see a golden age of learning opening before us, where people will be able to find resources to pursue any education they may want.




With few exceptions, all the things our children are using to connect and learn outside the classroom — social media, cell phones, Internet connections — are banned inside classrooms. Move from a standardized testing teaching approach to a style that incorporates more creativity and adaptability.

Remaking assessment starts with this: stop asking questions on tests that can be answered by a Google search. Or, if you have to ask them, let kids use their technology to answer them. More often than not, we ask questions that can be easily answered by technology. That is unfortunate. Take a quick look at any of the state standardized tests for graduation, and you’ll see more of those than you can imagine.

Let’s scrap open-book tests, zoom past open-phone tests asking Googleable questions, and advance to open-network tests that measure not just how well kids answer a question, but also how literate they are at discerning good information from bad and tapping into the experts and networks that can inform those answers. This is how they’ll take the real-life information and knowledge tests that come their way, and it would tell us much more about our children’s preparedness for a world of data abundance.

This is an excerpt from Will Richardson’s new TED e-book, Why School?


Encourage two-way intergenerational mentorships and interactions. This would create opportunities for youth adults to learn from each other. Gen Z comes to the workforce a wide set of new technology skills, determination and passion, among many other factors. Older employees can benefit from the connectivity, flexibility and creativity that are unique to this generation. These youth are still young, however, and have a lot to learn from their older mentors that will help better integrate them successfully in the formal working world. As these youth become a larger part of the emerging labor force, business must plan for Gen Z’s entry and the succession of the Baby Boomers as they retire. Mentorship programs not only get youth interested in and prepared for work in new fields, it introduces fresh skills and attitudes that help businesses flourish in a changing economic atmosphere.



These skills are increasingly valuable in the workplace and society more broadly. Greater emphasis should be placed on their development. The ability to manage conflict is probably one of the most important social skills an individual can possess.


According to the Key Competence Framework, the entrepreneurship key competence refers to an individual’s ability to turn ideas into action. It includes creativity, innovation and risk taking, as well as the ability to plan and manage projects in order to achieve objectives. Include business and entrepreneurial skills in school curricula in order to equip students with a background in that area, making entrepreneurship less of an idea and more of a viable possibility for those students.

Entrepreneurship Education at School in Europe. [Eurydice]


Civic engagement is instrumental in building community awareness, teaching tolerance and cultivating socially conscious young people. Service learning should be integrated into K-20 education.


We must teach our youth to look for opportunities and that failure in pursuit of them is a learning opportunity and not a stigma to avoid at all costs. To help our students, we need to directly ask for academic risk-taking behavior (e.g. asking questions, dwelling in uncertainty, and advancing untried hypotheses) and identify it whenever we ask for it, so students know we perceive and value the challenges they face.

Teaching Risk-Taking in the College Classroom