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Digital Citizenship: Global Perspectives Across Age Levels


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This poster is by Dr Valerie Hill and Sheila Webber. It was presented at the European Conference on Information Literacy, Dubrovnik, 22 October 2014. The references for the poster are at

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Digital Citizenship: Global Perspectives Across Age Levels

  1. 1. RESEARCH POSTER PRESENTATION DESIGN © 2012 Instant access to information around the world has precipitated a change in information literacy elements in global participatory digital culture. The biggest change is the need for digital citizenship to be understood both for personal life and life-long learning. By promoting digital citizenship in all formats, physical or virtual, through both formal face to face instruction and distance education, librarians can increase understanding of information literacy. An article in Information Today’s Internet at Schools explains, “ So the phrase “digital citizenship” has to do with the rights and duties of a person using technology along with other people—because a person must consider that he lives with others on an interconnected Earth” (Rivero, 2014 p. 7). Judi Moreillon, SLIS Professor, says “Our efforts to teach students how to evaluate electronic information for relevance, accuracy, validity, and bias are essential competencies for digital citizens” (Moreillon, 2013 p.36). BACKGROUND: WHAT IS DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP? DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP FOR K-12 CONCLUSION REFERENCES Students working on digital citizenship certification (photo by Valerie Hill) TWU School of Library & Information Studies, University of Sheffield iSchool by Valerie Hill, PhD and Sheila Webber Digital Citizenship: Global Perspectives Across Age Levels Digital citizenship, part of information literacy, includes access, commerce, cyber- safety, online privacy, digital footprints, and ethical online behavior (Ribble, 2014). The American Library Association AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner shares skills, dispositions in action, responsibilities, and self-assessment strategies for developing information literacy and digital citizenship for youth today (ALA, 2007). Cherie Heaser, Library Media Specialist, believes digital citizenship skills can begin in kindergarten when students learn cyber-safety. Keeping passwords private and logging out before you walk away are simple tips for the youngest students (Heaser, 2012 p18). Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization that advocates digital citizenship and studies the effects of technology on youth, is an example of promoting responsible media literacy through education using badges and certification as motivators (CSM, 2014). Schools can earn digital citizenship certification through innovative programs and the school library is particularly well suited for the task. Contact information Valerie Hill Sheila Webber SCHOOL LIBRARY EXAMPLE LIFELONG DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP Students building a virtual library in MinecraftEDU. photo (Photo by Valerie Hill) Future research studies are needed to assess how learners of each age group can demonstrate understanding of digital citizenship elements and best practices for implementation into the curriculum. Research strategies, such as the Big Six, can be revisited to include new formats and global collaboration in digital participatory culture (Big Six, 2014). Additional research is needed to address cultural differences and access issues for comparison of information literacy needs on a global scale. Exploring information literacy needs across the globe is a new phenomenon and the two researchers of this project utilized a virtual world to collaborate, just as students of all ages can collaborate in virtual worlds, such as Minecraft. COMPARISON OF NEEDS ACROSS AGE GROUPS People of all ages, from infancy through adulthood need to develop an understanding of digital citizenship. In comparing the needs of learners in Kindergarten through 5th Grade and young adults from a range of countries, the similarities in information literacy skills necessary for learning were clear. The ability to understand and accept differences through developing skills, knowledge and a disposition toward learning in a global dynamic world, sets a course toward fulfillment of the rights of citizens from as early as kindergarten. However, as the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2014) identifies, action is needed to achieve inclusive digital participation. Although digital citizenship may not be defined and understood universally, as a new concept, there are common issues and educational needs across the world. A group of 5th grade students (age 10 or 11) created a digital citizenship game for younger students in the virtual world of MinecraftEDU. Using Project-Based Learning (Markham, 2011), the students worked as a team designing questions through a maze in a virtual library (Hill, 2013). Interviews with the students documented understanding of digital citizenship elements embedded into the student-designed environment (Hill, Webber and Johnston (2013) describe a model of the Information Literate Person in a changing information culture and society. They emphasise that a citizen needs to audit and develop his or her information literacy, to meet the needs of a changing lifeworld. Webber and Johnston identify five key areas of change which interact to impact information literacy (see below), and which also can be used to reflect on digital citizenship. For example, when someone moves from university to employment she will be in a new organisational setting. She needs to understand what it means to be a good digital citizen in that organisation (e.g. the norms and rules for sharing information inside and outside the organisation). At the same time she still needs to be aware of changes in national law and policy. For example, she may have new opportunities to exercise her citizen rights using technology (such as voting online) but also has to improve her knowledge and skills to be able to exercise these rights fully and legally. Webber has used this model to help university students reflect on their development needs. In a class of 100 Masters-level students (2013/14), the majority from outside the United Kingdom, many of the needs resulted from moving to a new country or city. Some were also adjusting to being students, after having been in employment. Students needed to learn about new organisations and new systems, different customs, culture and legal systems. One of the Chinese students remarked “Since I came to the UK, it is almost completely different with the life in my home country”: a reminder that digital citizenship will mean something different in different cultures, and new learning is required at different lifestages. Researchers collaborating in a virtual world. (Photo by Valerie Hill)