The diverse issues associated with digital practices in education can be seen to form a part of what has been referred to as ‘digital citizenship’. This is an umbrella term that attempts to bring together issues of openness and digital literacy in an educational context. It has also been defined as ‘the ability to participate in society online’ (Mossberger et al., 2008: 1). Digital citizenship is an idea that refers to a person taking an active part in society through technology. Being a digital citizen is not just about using technology, but about meaningful participation and engagement. The website created by Childnet (http://www.digizen.org/) contains a range of resources which help to explain the concept further.
Digital citizenship incorporates work on e-safety (see 3.5.4 E-Safety), but is a much broader concept that is concerned about using technology both safely and responsibly. It has obvious overlaps with citizenship and many of the approaches used in citizenship education could be adapted to ensure that digital lives are included. Digital citizenship is about being responsible, making informed decisions and participating in all aspects of digital life and it requires reflection on issues relating to values, ethics and rights. Enabling pupils to explore issues such as rights, responsibilities and obligations as digital citizens will help them to develop the skills and knowledge that can enable them to take part effectively in a digital society.
Ribble (2011) suggests that there are nine elements to digital citizenship which are represented in the diagram above. There is a range of resources for teachers, children and parents related to learning about digital citizenship; see 2.6.6. E-safety concerns managing safety in relation to a range of technologies, not just the use of the Internet. However, much of the focus for e-safety work concerns the Internet, given that it enables users to engage with unknown others through the use of email, chat rooms, social networking sites, games and so on. As is the case with E-Safety, the most effective approaches to digital citizenship education involve embedding the learning into meaningful activities.
The Case Study 4 involved children creating OERs to accompany educational displays at Magna Science Adventure Centre, http://www.visitmagna.co.uk/. Knowing that their work would be read by many members of the general public added significance to the pupils’ writing; this opened up their work beyond the usual classroom writing practices. Becoming digital citizens in this context required pupils to consider the needs of visitors to the museum and to ensure that their writing met the highest of standards for digital public communication.
For References see 2.6.6 References / Links to Further Resources