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The Importance of Digital Citizenship

“Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds,

so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.”

- Plato

COURSE:  ETEC 511 (Core Course), Foundations of Educational Technology, Course Description


TITLE:  The Importance of Digital Citizenship in K-12 Education


To write a scholarly paper exploring media and technology in education.


For my ETEC 511, Foundations of Educational Technology scholarly essay, I chose to research and write about Digital Citizenship as I find that it is a timely and relevant topic to my teaching.  I was inspired by a video entitled “Learning to Change-Changing to Learn” as I developed my discourse of Digital Citizenship.

Researching digital citizenship was a very valuable experience.  Writing this paper allowed me to dig into the International Society for Technology in Education’s National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) in more detail after having been exposed to these standards in ETEC 565.  Furthermore, Ribble & Bailey’s (2007) nine elements of digital citizenship were new to me and helped me to understand the scope of digital citizenship.  Through writing this paper, I was also able to reflect on Prensky’s (2001) terms digital native and digital immigrant.  Although the digital divide is present in many educational contexts, in many cases, the sharp division between the two is not as distinct as Prensky describes in the majority of his articles.Prensky’s broad claim does not account for counter-examples of this simplistic divide.

Later on in the MET program, I came across the following video.  The part that I find very interesting is begins at the 1:09 mark of the video.  Nichole Pinkhard, Visiting Associate Professor at DePaul University and the founder of the Digital Youth Network states, “I don’t think any kid is born digitally native.  I think kids are born consuming media, but I don’t think kids are born producing media. So, almost any kid that you look at and you say: Wow! This is a great user of digital media; you can trace back… there’s a parent, there’s a program, there’s something that inspired them and developed them.”  Although Prensky’s digital divide is simplistic, he does propose effective teaching strategies to teach students in a manner that will prepare them for the future.  Prensky recognizes that  teaching is reciprocal between the immigrants and the natives.



Download .pdf version:  The Importance of Digital Citizenship


UDL Guidelines:

  • 5.1 Use multiple media for communication
  • 5.2 Use multiple tools for construction and compostion

Here is a Wordle summarizing my paper. Wordle is a web application for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.  I think this Wordle has represented my paper on digital citizenship well based on the more prominent words it has displayed!  Students could use Wordle to represent what they know on any given topic.  Use it as a “getting to know you” activity at the beginning of the year and have students create a Wordle about themselves or use it to introduce and brainstorm vocabulary for a writing activity.

As students use more and more web applications, such as Wordle, to express what they know, it is important for them to understand proper digital etiquette as they create and interact with digital content.  It is our job then, as educators, to assist students with goal setting, planning and organizing the information they wish to express as well as monitoring their progress.  How would / have you used Wordle in your context?  Feel free to leave a comment on this page.

Tips & Tricks for using Wordle:

  • The more often you type a word, the larger it becomes in the Wordle.
  • Experiment with different colours, fonts and layouts.
  • Type a ~ between words you wish to keep together such as Digital~Citizenship.

Wordle: Digital Citizenship - Scholarly Essay

(click the image to enlarge)



International Society of Technology for Education. (2008). National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers. Retrieved July 30, 2010 from

Learning to Change-Changing to Learn. [Video File]. Retrieved from 

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants part 1. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1-6. doi: 10.1108/10748120110424816

Ribble, M. & Bailey, G. (2007). Digital citizenship in schools. International Society for Technology in Education. Retrieved October 31, 2009, from 

The 21st Century Learner. [Video File]. Retrieved from



representation    |     expression    |     engagement