Digital Citizenship – Week 1

Our first web meeting this week gave a great overview of the expectations and objectives of this course. There is a lot of reading! It sounded like some people, like me, were still waiting on the books that they had ordered, and had not been able to begin reading Digital Citizenship in Schools by Ribble (2015) yet. I’m on track now, though!

When we were discussing the importance of digital citizenship, a few people commented on the story about the Harvard students whose admission was revoked due to the content of their social media posts. This is a great example of how digital anonymity can lead people to do negative things. It shows the importance of teaching our students about digital citizenship! I also liked the comments about how many positive things can come from digital tools, but that those positives need to be ‘tempered’ with rules.

When thinking about my school, the digital citizenship element that stands out is digital access (Ribble, 2017). The students come from a low-income area, and I know that many of them do not have access to computers or the internet at home. If they can use a device, it’s often a phone. Luckily, our school has almost 1:1 access with iPads and Chromebooks, so all students have access there. Teachers are unable to use technology fully, though, because they can’t expect their students to do homework online or continue online class activities at home. This makes it even more important to incorporate digital citizenship instruction into everything we do.

Is digital citizenship the same thing as citizenship? I’m not sure. I really like the way Darren Kuropatwa (2015) explained digital citizenship – more like digital ethics. Ethics is part of citizenship, but citizenship goes deeper. Terry Heick (2013) refers to the Merriam Webster dictionary to define citizenship as ‘the quality of an individual’s response to membership in a community.’ However, when I dug deeper, I found that was only one of the definitions they give. The other definitions are ‘membership in a community’ and ‘being a citizen.’ I explored the definition of citizen and found ‘inhabitant of a city or town,’ ‘one entitled to the rights and privileges of a freeman,’ and ‘a native or naturalized person who owes allegiance to a government and is entitled to protection from it.’ That is the definition that comes to mind when I think of citizenship, which is why I don’t think citizenship and digital citizenship are the same. I do, however, feel that digital citizenship is that part of citizenship that Heick (2013) refers to, which to me is more like digital ethics. As Kuropatwa (2015) said, this is not a simple conversation, and what is more important than a definition is the fact that we’re talking about it. I’ll agree with Ribble (2015) for now, and think of digital citizenship as ‘the norms of appropriate responsible behavior with regard to technology use.’


Heick, T. (2013, May 2). The Definition of Digital Citizenship. [web log post]. Teach Thought: We grow teachers. Retrieved from

Kuropatwa, D. (2015, July 16). Digital Ethics and Digital Citizenship #BLC15 [YouTube]. The Brainwaves Digital Anthology. Retrieved from

Ohler, J. (2012). Digital citizenship means character education for the digital age. Education Digest: Essential Readings Condensed for Quick Review, 77(8), 14-17. (PDF: Ohler_Digital_citizenship_means_character_education_2012.pdf).

Ribble, M. (2015). Digital citizenship in schools: nine elements all students should know. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education.

Ribble, M. (2017). Nine Themes of Digital Citizenship. [web log post]. Digital Citizenship: Using technology appropriately.  Retrieved from

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *