Fostering Digital Citizenship

REFLECTIVE POST for ETL523 Assessment 3 Part B

At the beginning of my ETL523 studies of digital citizenship I shared my thoughts on the group Padlet and in my blog: “Digital citizenship refers specifically to knowing how to behave in the digital world”, I wrote, and then continued: “as educators, (we) must help our young students develop the skills, habits and appropriate behaviour that will help them be safe, act ethically and respectfully and be accountable for their actions.  This is citizenship.” (Wocke, 2018c; Wocke 2018a).

Now, at the end of this module, I still agree with most of it, except the last sentence. This is not citizenship, at least not all of it. In my recent blogpost called Digital CITIZENship I reflected on my learning and new understanding (Wocke, 2018f). Yes, citizenship has to do with personal behaviour, but it is also tied to community, social responsibility and privileges (Ohler, 2011). It further has to do with participation, becoming active citizens rather than just passive consumers (Rheingold, 2010).

What is digital citizenship?, posted by Family Online Safety Institute

A century ago already Dewey argued that the goal of schools should be to educate young people to be citizens who can think, do and act intelligently and morally (“John Dewey,” n.d.). With the advent of the digital society, schools need to take on this responsibility, especially in the digital realm. In order to be empowered citizens, we have to ensure that we equip our students with the information literacy, digital literacy and social media literacy skills and the ability to transfer those skills to new media and situations (Wocke, 2018e, Hague & Payton, 2010, Rheingold, 2010). The networked and connected nature of the Internet means that this cannot happen in isolation, only in dedicated digital citizenship classes. It needs to be integrated into every classroom and every lesson, in order for this attitude to become part of the everyday behaviour of our students. The social, open and participatory nature of the Internet has eliminated boundaries to communication and collaboration to such an extent that our digital interactions are as likely to be local, as national or global. Digital citizens are by default global citizens and should be cultivated as such, by helping them develop a sense of personal and global responsibility and accountability (Lindsay, 2016, p. 22; Crockett & Churches, 2018, p. 24).

By intentionally designing digital learning environments (discussed here on my blog and in the forum),  where learning is facilitated and supported through the affordances of digital technology, we can create safe, authentic learning environments, where we guide our students in their development as 21st century citizens – see figure 1. (Wocke, 2018b). Digital learning environments (DLE) should be intentionally designed, allowing for personalised, empowering, learner-centred and learner-directed learning, where our students can practice and develop appropriate and ethical participation in the digital world (Veletsianos, 2016, pp. 246-7).
Figure 1. A definition of 21st Century Citizenship by P21.

Teacher librarians (TL), dually qualified educators and information specialists, are uniquely qualified to assist school leadership in designing DLEs and implementing policies and procedures with which to create environment that will facilitate the development of our students as effective citizens of the 21st century. While classroom teachers need to focus on subject content, TLs can collaborate with them and integrate aspects of literacy building and citizenship development into teaching and learning. TLs understand the needs and requirements of successfully, critically, ethically and honestly navigating the changing information environment, through teaching of research skills, evaluation, curation and ethical use of information sources. TLs can play an important role, not only assisting teachers to facilitate 21st century learning, but also helping teachers to develop the skills, competencies and fluencies needed to                              fully participate in the information economy. TLs are also able to
competently assist school leadership in building a successful DLE
(Martin & Roberts, 2015, p. 20).

At the start of my studies I subscribed to the concept of digital citizenship, but I now realise how important it is to proactively plan for the integrated development of 21st century learning literacy and global citizen awareness in the digital learning environment in our schools.



Crockett, L., & Churches, A. (2018). Growing global digital citizens: Better practices that build better learners. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Family Online Safe Institute. (2009, September 29). What is digital citizenship? [Video file]. Retrieved from

Hague, C., & Payton, S. (2010). Digital literacy across the curriculum. Retrieved May 13, 2018, from Futurelab website:

Lindsay, J. (2016). The global educator: Leveraging technology for collaborative learning & teaching. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education.

Martin, A. M., & Roberts, K. R. (2015, January/February). Digital native not equal to digital literate. Principal, 18-21. Retrieved from

Ohler, J. (2011). Character education for the digital age. Educational Leadership, 68(5). Retrieved from

Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (n.d.). Reimagining citizenship for the 21st century: A call to action for policymakers and educators. Retrieved May 21, 2018, from

Rheingold, H. (2010). Attention, and other 21st-century social media literacies. EDUCAUSE Review, 45(5), 14-24. Retrieved from

Veletsianos, G. (2016). Digital learning environments. In N. Rushby & D. Surry (Eds.), Handbook of learning technologies (pp. 242-260). Retrieved from

Wocke, G. (2018a, February 28). Digital citizenship in my words [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website:

Wocke, G. (2018b, March 3). The digital learning environment [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website:

Wocke, G. (2018c, March 7). Digital citizenship [Video file]. Retrieved from

Wocke, G. (2018d, March 29). We need to transliterate, practically [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website:

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