Moving Students From Digital Citizenship To Digital Leadership

by TeachThought Staff

Digital Citizenship has become one of the more symbolic phrases that represent the significant impact technology has made on our behavior and interactions.

What is the definition of digital citizenship? Terry Heick has offered that digital citizenship is “The quality of habits, actions, and consumption patterns that impact the ecology of digital content and communities.” In short, it’s taking care of the ‘things’ we depend on in digital spaces.

This isn’t an easy concept for many students to wrap their head around, as it involves aspects of scale, permanence, and credibility that they are just beginning to wrestle with. Citizenship as an idea of its own is both crucial and crucially misunderstood, often reduced to political notions (Be heard–Vote!) or those ecological (Always Recycle!). Consider how infrequently many adults consider how the work they do, the things they buy, or the food they eat affects national or global citizenship.

This is all big picture thinking that is, somehow, easy to miss.

The Visual

Which brings us to the visual above. Sylvia Duckworth got together with Jennifer Casa-Todd to illustrate an interesting twist on this idea–moving from mere “citizenship” to inspired leadership in digital spaces, using two definitions from George Couros.

Digital Citizenship: Using the internet and social media in a responsible and ethical way

Digital Leadership: Using the internet and social media to improve the lives, well-being, and circumstances of others.

The idea behind the shift? A kind of empathy–moving beyond see one’s self, and moving towards seeing one’s self in the physical and digital company of others. As digital technology and social media become more deeply embedded in our lives, and more nuanced in their function, this is a shift whose time has come.

The question becomes, then, what’s the next evolution of this idea?

*previously published at; image attribution Sylvia Duckworth


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