Digital Citizenship for Educators

  • What are important messages and understandings we should be remembering and sharing with colleagues to inform our approach to teaching and learning in the digital world?
  • How have mobile and ubiquitous digital learning environments, including tablet technology impacted what we do as educators now in terms of digital citizenship understandings and new approaches to pedagogy?
  • What does your school have in place to encourage good digital citizenship practices?
  • What is your digital footprint looking like now? How will you develop this?

One of the important messages about digital citizenship that we should be remembering and sharing with colleagues is the fact that we as teachers can not effectively educate students about the online world, digital citizenship or the notion of a digital footprint if we in fact are not partaking in the same social networks or using the same tools as our students. If teachers do not have a personal understanding of the technologies or web environments students are participating in, how can they effectively teach students about it? As suggested in the reading, it becomes more of a theoretical understanding rather than an authentic teaching and learning opportunity.
Another important factor to consider, suggested by Nielsen (2011), is the notion of not confusing managing one’s digital footprint with being hidden or private. It is my understanding that a digital footprint should represent who we are and what we believe in a professional manner. It is also extremely important that our colleagues understand that what they put online could potentially be there forever (Nielsen, 2010). Teachers need to be able to understand this, lead by example and demonstrate this knowledge in their own practice before they can effectively teach this to children.
Teachers, principals, parents, students and education policy makers all need to understand that effective teaching of digital citizenship requires a holistic approach, in that all stakeholders need to be involved (Hollandsworth, Dowdy, & Donovan, 2011). Teachers need to be encouraged to take a proactive approach when using digital tools and online communities- not only should teachers aspire to use the tools effectively and appropriately but advocate for their use as well- become a ‘DigiTeacher’ where they are researching, leading the way, becomming engaged in a wide variety of digitial environments, flattening walls, avoiding the fear factor and making a difference (Lindsay & Davis, 2012). At the end of the day, as teachers we need to ask ourselves- What is our core responsibility? Why are we here? We as teachers are here to educate our students to ensure they can participate in the world beyond school, we are here to make a difference to our students and if we are not embracing new tools and technologies or tools and networks our students are already using, then it is my belief that we are not doing our job properly.
Mobile and ubiquitous digital learning environments have impacted greatly on education and the way we teach. As educational technology is constantly evolving and growing, it is inevitable that this will provide new and interesting strategies for teaching and learning (Jones & Jo, 2004). With access to mobile devices, 24/7 internet access and cloud computing, education is in fact happening all around our students- sometimes, without them even realising it (Jones & Jo, 2004). This access to anywhere, anytime learning means that teachers need to embrace these technologies and use them effectively in education.
Currently my school has a number of growing and expanding programs in place to develop and encourage good digitial citizenship of students. Learning about digital citizenship is integrated through our curriculum as well as providing students with explicit stand alone lessons. My school is also working on becoming an eSmart school- an initiative of the Alannah Madeline Foundation. eSmart is a change framework that provides a ‘roadmap’ for schools to create safe digital learning environments.
As the eLearning leader at my school, part of my role is to develop teacher capacity in all areas of using technology in education and digital citizenship for students and teachers is included in this. So far this has been incorporated though modelling best practice, informative conversations, more formal coaching and mentoring relationships and providing professional development. As this is a new position for myself and my school, I will be evaluating this role and what is needed to improve digital citizenship of both students and teachers throughout this subject.
I believe that I have an effective, honest and professional digitial footprint. Using the tools provided in the module, as well as a google search, I found only positive imprints of my digital footprint. Most were education based, with some other images from Pinterest popping up, but nothing untoward. I think an important part of my creation of a positive digital footprint is my Personal Learning Network (PLN). Through Twitter (Missb6_2), my Facebook Page (Miss Spink on Tech), my blog (, Pinterest and Google+ profiles, I have created a positive public presence. A former student once wrote in a blog post reflecting on using Twitter in the classroom that he believed “my teacher, class and I are very important in the social networking world” (Walsh 2012) , this was a result of having an effective digital footprint and allowing the students in my class to see the real world learning opportunities of using social media in the education. If I had not had my own digital footprint that represented my passion for education and had not used these tools to create my own personal learning network there is no way I could have provided my students with these opportunities or given my students the voice they craved to share their learning with the world.
Hollandsworth, R., Dowdy, L., Donovan, J. (2011). Digital citizenship in K-12: It takes a village. TechTrends 55(4) 37-47.
Jones, V, & Jun H J. (2004). Ubiquitous learning environment: An adaptive teaching system using ubiquitous technology. Beyond the comfort zone: Proceedings of the 21st ASCILITE Conference 5 Dec. 2004. Retrieved from
Lindsay, J., & Davis, V. (2012). Flattening classrooms, engaging minds: Move to global collaboration one step at a time. New York: Allyn and Bacon. Chapter 5: Citizenship.
Nielsen, L. (2010, February 18). Teaching kids to manage their digital footprint [Blog post] Retrieved from
Nielsen, L. (2011, August 19). Discover what your digital footprint says about you [Blog post]. Retrieved from
Walsh, C. (2012). Tweeting the Prime Minister. Retrieved from

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