The Definition Of Digital Citizenship

the-definition-of-digital-citizenshipThe Definition Of Digital Citizenship

by Terry Heick

As more and more students interact digitally–with content, one another, and various communities–the concept of digital citizenship becomes increasingly important.

Which begs the question: what is digital citizenship?

Well, first citizenship, which is formally defined as “the quality of an individual’s response to membership in a community.” This makes citizenship far more complex than a simple legal matter, but rather one that consists of self-knowledge, interaction, and intimate knowledge of a place, its people, and its cultural history.

So digital citizenship is nearly the same thing–“the quality of a response to membership in a digital community” would be a good first crack at the definition.

Revising that might more clearly articulate the differences between physical and digital communities, so a decent definition of digital citizenship then might be “Self-monitored participation that reflects conscious interdependence with all (visible and less visible) community members”

But that leaves out the idea of content itself, which leads us to a pretty good definition for educators: “The quality of habits, actions, and consumption patterns that impact the ecology of digital content and communities.”

Still too wordy? Maybe a shorter version for students–with some moral imperatives and implied advice–could be: “the self-monitored habits that sustain and improve the digital communities you enjoy or depend on.”

Later this week, we’re going to have a more in-depth look at the characteristics of digital citizenship, but the infographic below I ran across on last week takes a more student-friendly approach by defining digital citizenship in terms of its actions and habits: using, sifting, mastering, creating–the literal actions that ultimately define the tone of a student’s interactions with their digital environments.

This makes it useful not just as a visual for teacher understanding, but for students to discuss, internalize, and apply themselves. In fact, hanging it in the classroom, computer labs, media centers, and other highly-visible places might make sense as well: the rules of the world of digital networks and social media.



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