NOW READING: How to Make the Move from Digital Citizenship to Digital Leadership

How to Make the Move from Digital Citizenship to Digital Leadership

How does a digital citizen become a digital leader? What does digital leadership mean for someone who is already practicing exemplary digital citizenship? In fact, are they not one in the same?

We've written much in the past about this since we introduced the concept of Global Digital Citizenship back in 2011. Afterward we expanded on it considerably in the book Growing Global Digital Citizens. In all our published writing we've referred to digital citizenship as how a person should behave in order to be ethical, compassionate, and proactive in all online relationships and environments. 

From there, it was the addition of global citizenship that described the ideals by which someone could move from digital citizenship to digital leadership. This is done through having a higher awareness of the world and it's cultures, and how we are all connected. A global citizen:

  • sees the world as a community in which all people live and prosper together
  • understands their actions contribute to the values of the entire planet
  • concerns how we participate in and contribute to the entire world

Global digital citizenship maintains that through all online and offline behaviours and actions we can make a positive difference for everyone. However, in this moment we are concerned with using these ideas to foster digital leadership skills. The secret to this can be found in examining the tenets of digital citizenship: respect and responsibility for the self, for others, and for property.

Defining Digital Leadership

In the following sections we'll discuss some suggestions of how to evolve into digital leadership from the considerations of each digital citizenship tenet. This isn't an exhaustive list of activities of course, but it can at least provide a snapshot for you as to how you can possibly find ways to encourage these ideals in your learners and your kids through applying creativity and critical thinking.

Respect for Self

The first tenet is showing respect for yourself. This means considering what personal information and content you post online and how it may reflect on you, your family, and the wider community. It's also about considering the websites you visit and how they may reflect on you as a person and community member.

Digital leadership in respecting self:

  • Students can develop materials for sharing with others regarding safe posting online
  • Discuss different websites in class and explore what kids know about them, if they would visit them, and why or why not
  • Build a class Facebook page so learners can demonstrate their knowledge of conscientious posting and creating ethical online profiles
  • Have students take the GoodCharacter test online

Responsibility for Self

The second tenet is having responsibility for yourself. This concerns how you balance technology use in your life. What are the benefits and the risks of the technology we use? From there we also consider how we are protecting ourselves and our information online. Finally, it means finding the courage to speak out against being attacked, harassed, and bullied online.

Digital leadership in being responsible for self:

  • Do a password challenge where learners strive to create the "most uncrackable password"
  • Present learner scenarios about being cyberbullied and ask them to respond with how they would handle the situation and why they would make those choices
  • Ask learners about the dangers of using technology too much, and how they would go about showing others how to balance it in their everyday lives
  • Use a program like Pipl to track digital footprints

Respect for Others

The third tenet is about showing respect for others. It involves ethical and considerate communication practices and an awareness of how digital interactions can be harmful and even dangerous if handled inappropriately. How we communicate in online environments can be either empowering or devastating. Ultimately the choice is ours, and we should always choose to be respectful no matter what.

Digital leadership in showing respect for others:

  • Have students choose some videos or photos they like on a social media channel and leave the author with some well-thought constructive comments and suggestions
  • Create a learners' campaign against online harassment and bullying, or host a fundraiser for a global school that needs technology for learning
  • Use programs like OnGuardOnline or the CommonSense Media Cyberbullying Toolkit to teach online safety to younger students

A roadmap to global digital citizenship.

The global digital citizen is a special kind of person—compassionate, industrious, and globally minded. Start your learners on the path to being global and being great with the Global Digital Citizen Quickstart Skills Guide.

Responsibility for Others

The fourth tenet concerns how we take responsibility for others. Do you know anyone who has been stalked, harassed, flamed, or bullied online? How about someone who may have been hurt or embarrassed by unauthorized or unethical sharing of content? This is the tenet that teaches us to fight against such behaviours restoratively and ethically. It's also about simply helping others in need.

Digital leadership in showing responsibility for others:

  • Ask learners to dream and design ways of guiding, educating and supporting their family and friends in the appropriate use of technology
  • Present learners with a fictional scenario of a student harmed by unethical sharing of photos and ask them to state how they would respond and why
  • Students can develop fundraising projects through or iEarn to help others in need around the world

Respect for Property

The fifth tenet is showing respect for property. Piracy in any form, digital or otherwise, will never be anything more than theft. A digital leader's responsibility is to set an example for others by practicing and encouraging awareness of matters like copyright basics, fair use, and the significance of honouring the intellectual property of others.

Digital leadership in having respect for property:

  • Students can demonstrate ways of role-modeling appropriate purchasing of software and media
  • Have them create a set of personal guidelines for citing sources and requesting permission for using another's resources
  • Create web quests using the skills of Information Fluency that help students validate news or content from chosen websites

Responsibility for Property

The sixth and final tenet concerns having responsibility for property. This means protecting the integrity of not only your own intellectual property, but the property of others as well. It means having an awareness of legal rights in regards to using copyright media, as well as how to preserve other peoples' rights to protect their copyright and intellectual property.

Digital leadership in showing respect for property:

  • Learners can develop resources that help their peers search for and use open source images
  • Discuss with students what to do when reporting damaged or vandalized property
  • Use sites like EasyBib and Citation Machine for ensuring proper source citation

Making the world a better place by fostering a compassionate and mindful citizenry isn’t just the responsibility of a chosen few. We can all work on it together through practicing solid digital leadership mindsets and inspiring others to do the same.Critical Thinking Companion