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Digital Citizenship

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Started by Isaac Day 10 Mar 2011 12:02pm () Replies (21)

So, what makes for a successful digital citizen?  Is it so different from just plain old 'citizenship'?  What are the differences? Are they one and the same... do the principles change? Add your thoughts to this post...


  • Anna Fitchett (View all users posts) 15 Mar 2011 6:54pm ()

    A successful digital citizen follows the same rules a successful real world citizen follows within the online context.  Or at least they should!  Currently the online world is developing so quickly it is hard to keep up with it.  The etiquette however has not always kept up and the 'private' world of the internet has allowed people to feel free to do as they please.  This includes things they would not necessarily do or say in the real world.  We're in a position where we can teach our learners the skills to become successful digital citizens and they can pass these onto the other people in their lives therefore become the educators.  Of course there are different rules/etiquette in the real world depending on the context and this crosses into the online world however we can support our learners to make good choices in both settings. 

  • Isaac Day (View all users posts) 16 Mar 2011 4:02am ()

    Good post Anna.  I am interested in any further thoughts you may have about the 'private' World.  How do we deal with privacy in the 'real World' context as opposed to the virtual or digital Worlds... and what lessons can we take from this when developing our own model for digital citizenship?  Is the key difference a percieved sense of freedom and anonymity?  No one can see me... so I can do what i like?  How do we build these understandings?


  • Emma Watts (View all users posts) 15 Mar 2011 10:10pm ()


    What's the difference?

    There is no difference between plain old ‘citizenship' and ‘digital citizenship'.  I agree with Anna that digital citizenship ‘has not always kept up and the 'private' world of the Internet has allowed people to feel free to do as they please.'

    It is therefore our role as teachers (the ‘guides on the side') to encourage all students and our communities to ask questions and to decide how to behave in an online world and in real life.  It is our role to challenge students to think about these ‘worlds' and analyze if there is any ethical difference between virtual and real. (http://ictpd-digital-citizenship-and-cybersafety.wikispaces.com/)

    Who owns citizenship?

    In reality most schools write their e-learning policy and agreements for the students.  Often it is complicated and in adult language.  So what does this agreement then mean to the 5 year old or even the 11 year old? Often it is read once and signed, perhaps once in the child's lifetime at the school or perhaps once a year. Does it have any significance in their daily lives?  The key to citizenship is ownership over e-learning agreements or codes of personal ethics for citizenship in both the virtual world and real life! 

    What's happening at Tahunanui?

    In my class last year we experimented with pulling apart our e-learning agreement against Andrew Churches concepts of; respecting yourself and others, protecting yourself and others, and respecting and protecting intellectual property (http://edorigami.wikispaces.com/The+Digital+Citizen).  This helped my class to understand and make the e-learning agreement a ‘living' document.  We linked it to taking photographs, blogging, Voicethread, emailing, Habits of Mind, Fish Philosophy and more.  We constantly linked it to our everyday life both virtual and real.  The best was when a student form last year came up to me the other week and said "I'm still using my Fish Philosophy!"

    This week we started working with our school's e-learning angels (students who help teach and support other students and teachers in their use of e-learning).  We took our agreement, cut it up an organized into the above categories developed by Andrew Churches - in our discussions the students decided that our e-learning agreement is far too wordy and that makes if hard for it to be alive and in the heart of our everyday lives - we need to rewrite (a job for the e-learning angels perhaps?) Surely any policy/document/agreement needs an annual review?

    Where to next?

    As a cluster we have had many professional development opportunities in digital citizenship.  Lead teachers, classroom teachers and principals have attended ULearn and Learning@Schools choosing digitial citizenship breakouts. John Parson's has challenged teachers and parents in the Whakatu Cluster to not see it as cyber safety but health and safety, and that there is no difference between our everyday and online ethics and behaviour. (http://www.simulate2educate.co.nz/). We've been challenged by Tony Ryan to question the difference between plain old ‘citizenship' and ‘digital citizenship'.

    Our challenge now as ‘agents of change' is to inspire our communities to develop their digital citizenship alongside their ‘real world' citizenship, with no differences in ethics because we are in the ‘virtual world'.  Alongside this it is important to understand that not everyone (online or in the ‘real' world) will follow these ethics and to develop an understanding of how to protect against others who are not ethical.   As guides we need to encourage students to ask questions about the validity of what we see and read in newspapers, on the television and online (check out the tree octopus website! http://zapatopi.net/treeoctopus/).  Teachers need to model protecting, respecting themselves, others and intellectual property.  We need to guide our communities to become citizens that respect and protect themselves and others in all ‘realities' or ‘worlds'.

  • Isaac Day (View all users posts) 16 Mar 2011 4:29am ()

    Succint post Emma and this builds on nicely from what Anna was saying. 

    Let's pick up the debate a bit... from your post let's tease out the thoughts around intellectual copyright and how the internet as we know it now is based around 'freedom of speech'.  I don't know about you, but it almost seems that anything posted on line is fair game... the lawsuits against file sharing and peer to peer networks from the early to mid 2000s is a prime example.  People abused the connectivity of the internet and used it to share things for free that would normally have cost a fair amount (even you tube is riddled with copyrighted material placed on there by people who don't own the copyright).  The internet users responded to this by developing freeware and sharing sites for non-copyright materials, but it hasn't stopped those who firmly believe we should share.  Their morals dictate that if we have it, we should share it with others (I grant you, that this is the equivalent of the 'moral low ground' to me), while some are very protective around their creations or ideas and call the 'sharers' (and in the case of you tube, the watchers), 'theives'.

    This is a facinating debate really, throughout history people have 'stolen' ideas or had designs on the ideas of others (including killing those who came up with the ideas so that the killer could claim these ideas themselves and take the credit and financial gain - history is riddled with such stories)... as well as those who have 'borrowed' ideas from people and built on them to make them better... mostly with no death involved! Smile

    I agree with what is on the wikispace you have identified, but I wonder aloud if we are not heading into a world of massive virtual collaboration where copyright rules become redundant, and the real money is made not in the creativity of the product or idea, but the advertising revenue that can be made by releasing that product for free in the market (along with you giving up your private information, browsing history and anything else you think is private and owned by you!) Smile

    I am not being fecitious, just look at facebook... you lose the intellectual rights to your ideas and uploads (e.g. photos) to facebook as soon as they are placed on there (Facebook can do what it likes with those - plus it sells on your private information!)... and lets not get started on Google...


    Your thoughts?

  • Kelliem (View all users posts) 16 Mar 2011 8:33am ()

    Although we've been challenged by Tony Ryan to question the difference between plain old ‘citizenship' and ‘digital citizenship'... I wonder if it is 'ethical citizenship'.

    The online world can't be policed in the same way as the 'real world' and although we rely on ethical decisions in the 'real world' we NEED ethical decisions in the online world. This brings Howard Gardner's 5 Minds into play - perhaps those most pertinent to this discussion are the 'respectful & ethical minds'.

    "Educators will recognize the importance of fostering respectfulness among students (the respectful mind). Gardner distinguishes real respect from mere tolerance of differences. Cultivating respect and emotional and interpersonal intelligence among students, teachers, and the greater school community are essential goals in a world where diversity of perspectives is a fact of life.

    While respect is something even young children can practice in primary schools, ethics (the ethical mind) requires more abstract and reflective thinking about one's behavior. No matter what type of work a person undertakes, she can stand back and ask what she needs to do for her work to be excellent in quality and ethical in conduct, and then follow through with those responsibilities. Without this mindset, a person can be easily swayed into doing compromised work that cuts corners, just to be able to get ahead."


  • Allanah King (View all users posts) 18 Mar 2011 8:26pm ()

    Maybe because the chances of being anonymous on the net people think they can get away with things they might not do in a more public forum.

  • Isaac Day (View all users posts) 16 Mar 2011 12:37pm ()

    Yes, I agree Kellie.  Our morals/ethics will dictate how we conduct ourselves digitally.  I also recall what Tony said about people selling virtual items on sites like Second Life... I cannot believe that people purchase things that they will never hold physically, but wear in a virtual world... This staggers me - What do you guys think?

  • Andrew (View all users posts) 24 Mar 2011 12:05pm ()

    We also need to think about the ethical continuum that people exist on.

    There are people who apparently have no moral or ethical thoughts.

    Machiavelli's ideas about "the ends justify the means" have been used for all sorts of nefarious projects.

    Some people will think about the ethics of making certain choices and some people will make choices without ever considering ethical or moral decisions.

    A person could outwardly agree to act within the rules of a given society/country/council/governmant/school/workplace/family, but at the same time be planning to abuse those same rules. They may even give no thought to acting in a "negative way" because to them, their decision is not negative.

    This puts us in the position of creating rules for people to live by that those same people may not believe in.

    Once, a group could banish/censure/kill/ostracise a person from their group but this is very difficult/impossible to do with the digital/internet/web/mobile scene.

    Then, once it is defined and governed and legislated for, it must be policed.

    I don't think chaos should reign, just thinking of how it appears to be from my perspective.


  • Emma Watts (View all users posts) 16 Mar 2011 6:16pm ()

    An interesting response Isaac and one that certainly needs discussing further.  I agree with the possibility of a future where ‘the real money is made not in the creativity of the product or idea, but the advertising revenue that can be made by releasing that product for free in the market'  but I still think it is important to respect and protect the creative effort and livelihoods invested in copyrighted works.   Currently people are ‘making money' from their creative product or idea - it is their livelihood - should it therefore be protected and respected? I personally think so.

    What interests me is the concept of Creative Commons Licences (http://creativecommons.org/).  For example their Attribution-Share Alike Licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) - in which you allow others to share, remix under the conditions that you; attribute the work and share alike etc. is one way to protect/respect intellectual property.  Using Creative Commons licences can begin to encourage others to think about protecting and respecting the creative effort and livelihoods invested in copyrighted works.   After all, many of us believe that the purpose of using e-learning in our classroom programmes is to connect, communicate, collaborate and to create.  Surely any community (online or real world) for it to survive and thrive needs to develop ethics or laws to help protect and respect it's citizens?  

    The New Zealand Federation Against Copyright theft produced a leaflet called "Illegal File-Sharing: The Risks Aren't Worth It" www.nzfact.co.nz/press_releases/P2P%20Illegal%20filesharing.pdf which is a comprehension guideline for schools and businesses.  In the leaflet they state that you shouldn't upload copyrighted material, or file share online (on P2P networks) because you risk:

    • breaking the law
    • downloading a serious computer virus
    • sharing your personal data, which can lead to identity theft
    • getting exposed to pornographic materials

    They go on to state that: "Schools and parents are in the best position to inform students of the importance of respecting copyright and valuing the creative effort invested in copyrighted works. Further, as distributors, guardians and owners of intellectual property themselves, schools have a huge incentive (and responsibility) to instill in their students such respect and values."  Our communities need to understand both the advantages and disadvantages.

    As for Facebook and Google then it is our role to guide our communities through the potential mine fields and actually have this discussion with them, enabling them to make informed choices (and hopefully ethical!) about the information and images that they upload or download in the virtual world.  There is no easy answer.  What do others think?

  • Isaac Day (View all users posts) 18 Mar 2011 5:39pm ()

    Yes, clearly the moral end ethical behaviour is key here... but it seems that the behaviour is epidemic and maybe this will force monumental change to the way the internet does business... like I say, Facebook is setting an example here.  I agree with you that 'it is important to respect and protect the creative effort and livelihoods invested in copyrighted works'... I am only suggesting that one day, there may be changes to how copyright works are reproduced (e.g. movies, music etc.).  Apple have kicked it off with DRM protected music (but you can still have an itunes song on up to 5 devices!!! which breaches NZ copyright laws!!??  With an iPod, Laptop, Desktop and iPad in our house here in NZ - I am in serious breach of this myself Surprised)... it will be interesting to see where this goes in the future because the InterWeb is changing our behaviour - thanks to the itunes store, I have not visited a record shop in nearly 4 years!  Do you remember HMV? Laughing

    Incidentally, I agree with you - but we do need to debate this and consider how we change people who don't see illegal downloading, ripping or burning as criminal behaviour!  With the percieved anonymity (can't believe people still believe that they don't leave a footprint in cyberspace) of the internet - people seem to think they can get away with it!  We need to teach kids that you are not anonymous on the internet, and someone can see what you are up to... and that one day the law will catch up! Smile

  • Emma Watts (View all users posts) 20 Mar 2011 5:06pm ()

    Lol! Yes I can remember HMV...its quite interesting because I'm the same, all of my music is downloaded from itunes.  If the devices are all owned by the same person is it still illegal to download music onto several devices?  I agree we do need this debate - what would be interesting is for the lead/support teachers to discuss this next time we meet, then to go back to our schools and have the same conversations with our staff, students and wider community. Definitely one I will bring up with my student e-learning angels.  I don't think as teachers we can stop illegal down loading, ripping or burning etc.  but we can be agents of change and encourage our communities to discuss the ethics and begin to make moral choices - perhaps students could create their own music as a unit and then market it and begin the discussion there, how would they feel about their music, or ipad app or artwork being used by others?  It would also be a good opportunity to discuss creative commons an collaborative work.

  • Paul Drummond (View all users posts) 21 Mar 2011 9:21am ()

    We can't manage or control access to the web. Digital citizenship for me is teaching values that respect people , property and information in a similar way we would expect behaviour anywhere else. Just because I find money on the ground doesn't make it ok to keep. Digital ctizenship is still about what is right and wrong. Unfortunately like in the real world people have varying  appreciation of what that looks like!

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 21 Mar 2011 3:45pm ()

    Wow, there is some rigorous debate in here and makes me want to jump in at 100 different angles. Great food for thought, especially as clusters have been asked to, "… use e-learning to give effect to the New Zealand Curriculum / Te Marautanga o Aotearoa by increasing the capability of: students to become successful digital citizen."

    Like Derek Wenmoth says, Digital citizenship is more about what we do online when no-one else is around. This means how we act and behave when communicating with others - what we share, how much we share, who’s stuff we share. It also includes the appropriate use of the Internet and cybersafety.

    Being aware of creating a life-long digital footprint is being digitally savvy. The difference between being a good citizen online (rather than being a regular good citizen), is …what you post today, doesn’t go away. Digital data is here to stay (sounds like a song Smile). In the end, the implications for this long term - is just too important to ignore.

    I like Andrew Churches references to protecting ourselves, property and each other.  EG: Keep your reputation, name and identity safe online and same considerations for others. Be careful what you post and whether it will have detrimental effects (to yourself or others), somewhere down the track.

    Protecting property becomes so much more complex (as you have already discussed) and like Emma says, we might not be able to stop some illegal downloads and file sharing,  “but we can be agents of change and encourage our communities to discuss the ethics and begin to make moral choices…”

    It think digital citizenship is like 'plain old' citizenship - for me it comes down to the Key Competencies and what kind of ethical, moral people we want to be. I think it involves unpacking on a daily basis with students- how this might this look – what kind of behaviours would be deemed appropriate online. Two great links helps me think about what this means for students - http://ictpd-digital-citizenship-at-home.wikispaces.com/Key+competencies+in+a+digital+age and http://www.mylgp.org.nz/about/what-is-digital-citizenship/

    It also means that we ourselves, model good digital citizenship everyday in the classroom and at home. For teachers and parents, the following modules are also invaluable - which define digital citizenship, address the issues and offer ways to work appropriately online :

    * http://ictpd-digital-citizenship-and-cybersafety.wikispaces.com/
    * http://ictpd-digital-citizenship-and-copyright.wikispaces.com/
    * http://ictpd-digital-citizenship-at-home.wikispaces.com/

    Any comments for improving these modules, would also be welcome.

    Thanks for letting me stop by to chat,

    Big smiles,


  • Isaac Day (View all users posts) 23 Mar 2011 11:33am ()

    So what is the future for citizenship?  How will changes we see now influence how we should prepare our kids?


    Interactive Gaming

    'Second life' - type environments

    The way we purchase/use copyright protected material

    ... Thoughts, ideas, observations, opinions? Smile



  • Andrew (View all users posts) 24 Mar 2011 12:27pm ()

    Future for citizenship? Gaming.

    If a person chooses to enter a game in a digital or online environment, they should expect the consequences to match the game. A car race game, you win or lose. A war game you "die".  If you don't like a game you have the choice to leave it, in the same way you would leave a bar/movie/concert/campground/riot/battlefield/country that you didn't like. Of course you will waste a lot of time and possibly become addicted to the game in the same way that alcohol, power, nictotine, adrenaline ... addict us all within the real world. 

    If we let people know this then they will be forewarned at least.

    That must be what education is and why it was created in the first place?????

  • Isaac Day (View all users posts) 25 Mar 2011 8:18am ()

    This link is interesting, but the author is critical of the source...

    Did Piracy stop when Limewire was shut down

  • Andrew (View all users posts) 24 Mar 2011 11:41am ()

    I agree with Anna, Kellie and others in believing in their being no difference between traditional citizenship and digital citizenship. History is littered with people who did ethically "bad" things in private before the advent of the digital age. it is no surprise that people continue to do the same with a new digital opportunity in a new digital envirtonment.

    We do need to continue educating children (and adults) about citizenship wherever we come across issues that need addressing, whether that is in a digital context or in a traditional setting.

  • DaveP (View all users posts) 24 Mar 2011 8:04pm ()

    This seems to be a discussion about 'applied ethics'....so basically trying to apply a kind of moral 'norm' or agreed upon common code of conduct in order to fix/resolve some kind of practical problem.  I agree with the general opinion shared here that there are simple values tied up with respect and responsibility that should be applied to all our conduct no matter what format this is in.  Of course it gets tricky when we have to decide who is judging or measuring this and deciding if it is right or wrong.  I know people who think that almost anything voluntarily shared on the net shares an 'implied right to copy'.  Do people have a right to post controversial opinions?  Who decides if actions are controversial or hurtful, just or unjust?  Philosphers have been hitting this ball around for many years.  Dave.

  • Isaac Day (View all users posts) 25 Mar 2011 8:20am ()

    Interesting point Dave, just look at some of the bloggers out there who take the 'freedom of speech' principle to the most ridiculous ends... there are some bloggers out there who deloberately flout the law using freedom of speech as their excuse.

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