Digital Responsibility and Citizenship

Digital literacy skills are an essential part of teaching and learning in today’s classrooms. But what does it mean to be digitally literate in our classrooms? In our homes? In our communities? In Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan of Action, Renee Hobbs describes 5 essential digital literacy competencies:

1. ACCESS – Finding and using media and technology tools skillfully and sharing appropriate and relevant information with others

2. ANALYZE & EVALUATE –  Comprehending messages and using critical thinking to analyze message quality, veracity, credibility, and point of view, while considering potential effects or consequences of messages

3. CREATE – Composing or generating content using creativity and confidence in self-expression, with awareness of purpose, audience, and composition techniques

4. REFLECT – Applying social responsibility and ethical principles to one’s own identity and lived experience, communication behavior and conduct

5. ACT – Working individually and collaboratively to share knowledge and solve problems in the family, the workplace and the community, and participating as a member of a community at local, regional, national and international levels

Using this model, I believe that analysis and reflection should be integrated with every competency. We need to teach students that digital literacy, at its core, involves communication. This communication should be undertaken with purpose, reflection, and recognition that we are digital citizens. With citizenship, comes responsibility to the members of our digital community.

I believe teachers should be positive role models in digital communication, regardless of the platform we use. When we are sharing photos, creating videos, retweeting ideas, or sending emails, we also need to be purposeful, reflective and responsible.

  • How do we react to those with differing views?
  • Do we encourage dialogue, add to the conversation, seek to understand?

I know I have retweeted statements or ideas that echo my immediate thoughts, only to find with further reflection that the thoughts I shared have changed or the statement itself shuts down rather than promotes positive dialogue.

This is my summer exploration – to look at digital citizenship and how I am learning, practising, and teaching these important skills in my classroom, and in my personal and professional digital conversations. I’m going to start with Common Sense Media’s Digital Citizenship resources and explore concepts such as rings of responsibility and the framework ask, acknowledge, and add value when creating digital content.

Please share your thoughts and/or resources. I look forward to learning with you.




2 thoughts on “Digital Responsibility and Citizenship

  1. Hi Laura,

    I love your blog and this is a really important challenge so many of us are embracing. The speed at which are classrooms are changing is quite incredible. I re-read your post and omitted the word digital. I am trying to think less about digital citizenship and more just about citizenship. As our lines with technology have become increasingly blurred, I think it is hard to define digital literacy as something separate from literacy and digital citizenship as something different than citizenship. I think Hobbs’ competencies are crucial with or without digital.

    I also really like that you have gone to Common Sense Media – they are producing excellent resources for teachers and parents.

    Thanks for sharing your thinking.

    Chris Kennedy

    • Hi Chris,

      Thanks for taking the time to respond. I agree – digital citizenship and digital literacy are just one component in our overall teaching and learning of citizenship and literacy skills.

      This is something I want to remember as we transition to BYOD this fall. Some parents have reservations with and opposition to BYOD. However, demonstrating how we can use technology to enhance our literacy and citizenship skills may have more appeal – better big picture thinking – rather than focusing on defining a unique set of skills called digital literacy. Similarly, when teaching basketball, one might not see the immediate benefit of being able to do a lay-up. However, when placed in the larger context of teaching a lay-up as part of the overall health and fitness of the class, these skills are understood and appreciated.

      Thanks for extending my thoughts.


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