Promoting and Modeling Digital Citizenship

ISTE Standard 4 for teachers addresses digital citizenship, both promoting and modeling it. In this standard, teachers should understand issues that come with a digital culture, modeling legal and ethical behavior in their practice. This also means teachers should be modeling and encouraging safe, legal, and ethical use of technology and digital information; advocating for and providing strategies to help bridge the digital divide; provide opportunities for students to engage with other cultures through technology to develop cultural understanding; and promote digital etiquette when having social interactions using technology.

E3 – Exemplify an understanding of professional responsibilities and policies. This means teachers should be exhibiting knowledge of professional, legal, and ethical responsibilities and policies. This standard ties in very well with ISTE standard 4, which also requires teachers to teach and model safe, legal, and ethical behavior. To me, this means that teachers are both encouraging students to become ethical digital citizens (as well as ethical people) while also showing that they follow the same code of conduct themselves.

After reading the articles this week, plus some supplemental research, I realized that teaching digital citizenship is a much larger task than I originally thought. There are many topics that fall under the category of “digital citizenship” as well as many ways to teach them. The question I asked for this week was a broader look at digital citizenship and how I can help students practice responsible use of the internet and technology they come into contact with, in and out of school.

As a teacher, how can I encourage students to become digital citizens, who can create, read critically, and use online content or forums in a responsible and respectful manner?

With a rapidly-changing digital world, it can be difficult for digital citizenship to be taught effectively. It’s a large topic, and needs to be taught explicitly so students understand the language and law involved. It should also be taught implicitly, so students understand how digital citizenship looks in action, not just in words. As a teacher, it is my job to “effectively research technology trends, monitor the uses of technology in [my] school or district…and empower student centered learning to create vibrant, exciting learning projects” (Lindsay and Davis, 2010).

My search for the best methods for teaching digital citizenship in class led me to two possible resources, which give me ideas for lesson plans and methods for teachers to become model digital citizens themselves. One resource is an Edutopia Resource Round-Up that was posted for digital citizenship week in 2013. Not only does this resource have ideas for lessons, it also leads to articles to further educate myself in the necessity of teaching digital citizenship, allowing me to develop my educational practice. Some of the links discuss teachers using social media to communicate with each other, giving them a forum for discussion and reflection that involves teachers from around the country. My other resource from Common Sense Education is a variety of useful lesson plans and ideas for teaching digital citizenship. These will be useful to me as I develop my own practice.

Another resource I found useful was shared to our Google+ community by Colleen Lawler, from the Digital Citizenship homepage. This website discusses the nine elements of digital citizenship, provides articles for teacher development, and provides more resources to read about teaching digital citizenship and using technology ethically in class. As a teacher, it will be important for me to pay attention to trends in technology and ways they can be used in my classroom, and I will need to be acutely aware of the changes that occur. Part of this will be to research new ideas and resources, such as the ones I have shared, and collaborate with my peers for evaluation and reflection. In this way, I can effectively use technology to improve my own practices, while also using valuable resources to teach my students.

Lindsay, J., Davis, V. (2010). Navigate the digital rapids. Learning and Leading with Technology, (37)6, pp12-15. Retrieved from


3 thoughts on “Promoting and Modeling Digital Citizenship

  1. Meghan, great tie-in to HOPE standard E3 and an educator’s professional, legal, and ethical responsibilities; these two went together really well. As you stated, the resources you were able to find this week seem to lead nicely into lesson plans and topics of conversation with your students. I particularly like the Common Sense Education website and how it breaks down potential lessons both by appropriate grade-level and by digital citizenship topic. You seem to have some good ideas for making sure that this is an area that you can bring into your classroom and make sure that your students “understand how digital citizenship looks like in action, not just in words.”

  2. Meghan,
    I love that you found lesson plans for digital citizenship. Like you said, I think this topic is bigger than we can imagine! Teaching students to be responsible on the internet is a daunting task that must be tackled. I appreciate both of your resources!

  3. Meghan- Thanks for your post! I completely agree that the task of teaching digital citizenship is much larger than I originally thought. It’s intimidating to think that students’ online behavior, either ethical, legal or not, depends on our ability to effectively teach and model expectations. It seems like parents and teachers should collaborate to some degree on this, since students are often accessing different types of websites and online activities at home than they are at school. Thanks for your resources! Bookmarking them for sure!

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