Understanding Digital Citizenship
Change 11 MOOC - #change11
Alec Couros - @courosa - http://couros.ca - couros@gmail.com


This week, I would like to lead a conversation around the the emerging concept of digital citizenship as it applies to learners and the role that educators and educational institutions must play in developing citizenry. I plan to lead participants from the previous and still prevalent 'cyber safety' focus in K12 schooling to more current participatory approaches now becoming common in schools. Major topics under digital citizenship that will be discussed include: information & media literacy, copyright/copyleft, network literacy, and identity.

"Digital citizenship isn’t just about recognising and dealing with online hazards. It’s about building safe spaces and communities, understanding how to manage personal information, and about being internet savvy - using your online presence to grow and shape your world in a safe, creative way, and inspiring others to do the same." (Digizen)

Media & Information Literacy:

"Media literacy is a repertoire of competences that enable people to analyze, evaluate, and create messages in a wide variety of media modes, genres, and forms." (Source) Information literacy is "...the ability to know when there is a need for information, to be able to identify, locate, evaluate, and effectively use that information for the issue or problem at hand." (Source)


Key Questions: How do we develop learners with 'built-in automatic crap detectors"? What are the greatest problems of information verifiability and attention in an age of abundance?


"Copyleft is a general method for making a program (or other work) free, and requiring all modified and extended versions of the program to be free as well." (Source)

  • Copyleft Wiki - My wiki page on this topic with definitions, articles, and multimedia that explore the subject.
  • RIP: A Remixer's Manifesto - A National Film Board (Canada) documentary on American mashup artist Girl Talk (aka Gregg Gillis), and surrounding issues around copyright, copyleft, fair use, and the control of information.
  • Everything is a Remix - A four-part documentary on cultures builds on itself.

Activity: Do the following:
  • Browse through the Flickr group "Great Quotes About Learning and Change"
  • Create your own slide/image based on the content of this group. You can use any tool you like to create the slide - Powerpoint, PhotoShop, or an online editor like http://www.picnik.com might be a good place to start. Royalty free photos can be found using Flickr's Creative Common search, Google's advanced image search, or other services (e.g., Compfight).
  • The file should be saved as a jpeg (image) file.
  • Email this image file as an attachment to meme31return@photos.flickr.com (Important: Title the photo in the email subject line, and type "submitted by (your name)" in the email body.) Add the #change11 tag. We will see everyone's images at http://www.flickr.com/photos/ecmp355

Network Literacy:

Howard Rheingold writes, "Understanding how networks work is an essential 21st century literacy." (Source)


Key Questions: What do learners need to know about networks? Is network literacy a concept that needs more attention?


Digital identity is a psychological identity that prevails in the domains of cyberspace, and is defined as a set of data that uniquely describes a person or a thing (sometimes referred to as subject or entity) and contains information about the subject's relationships to other entities.


Key Questions:
  • What have you done to intentionally manage your online identity? What tools and processes are you using?
  • What should the role of educational institutions be in assisting in the development of a learner's digital identity?
  • With the likelihood of learners having a tarnished digital identity, how importance will the concept of 'forgiveness' be in the future of our children.