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Digital Citizenship in the Time of Remote Learning 

The internet is a vast abyss of content. These days it seems like you can learn almost anything online—from how to change a tire to how to suture like a surgeon. The growth of edtech tools has led to a whole new range of possibilities when it comes to learning. As students and teachers leverage technology to enhance learning, it is imperative that students understand the qualities of digital citizenship.

The shift to online learning during the pandemic was a challenge to say the least; however, we can’t deny the benefits of ed tech’s capacity to engage students like never before. As we embrace a more digital curriculum, we need to be prepared to teach digital citizenship.

What is Digital Citizenship?

The ISTE Standards for Students define a digital citizen as one who recognizes the rights, responsibilities, and opportunities of living and learning in an interconnected digital world. Students with a developed sense of digital citizenship use the internet in ways that are safe, legal, and ethical. 


In their book, Digital Citizenship in Schools, Mike Ribble and Gerald Bailey identify nine themes of digital citizenship: 

1. Etiquette: Students’ online behavior is appropriate and leads to desired learning outcomes. Students avoid inappropriate online behavior such as using devices to send personal text messages to friends in class. Educators encourage students to cultivate their digital identity and remind students of the permanence of their digital actions. 


2. Communication: The internet has made communication more accessible and faster than ever. Students practice responsible digital communication by using appropriate language and avoid slang and SMS language. 


3. Education: Learning opportunities are provided to students in a variety of technology modes. For example, websites, learning management systems, and chat rooms provide unique online experiences for specific learning purposes. 


4. Access: Schools center the digital needs of marginalized students who may not have the same access to technology as their peers. Rather than evading the use of technology out of fear that some students don’t have access to the required equipment, teachers advocate for the supply of technology to all students.


5. Commerce: The rise of Amazon and other E-commerce shops has made purchasing goods easier than ever. Students research products online before making purchases and understand the consequences of impulse buying and fraudulent sellers. Students are aware of data-collection technology used to track their online behavior. 


6. Responsibility: Irresponsible digital behavior such as plagiarism or illegal downloading could land students a hefty lawsuit. Digitally responsible students understand what online behaviors are legal and illegal. 


7. Rights: Students understand their rights when creating or publishing anything online. Schools follow acceptable use policies (AUP) and protect the rights of their students. 


8. Safety: Educators encourage students to use technology in safe ways that prevent physical harm. Poor posture and eyestrain are commonly reported in technology-based activities. Students avoid sharing personal information online that could give strangers information about who they are and where they live.


9. Security: Students protect their personal data and the data of the community by ensuring virus software is up to date and by avoiding suspicious links and websites. Educators teach students how to back up data and protect their equipment from damage.


How to Teach Digital Citizenship

So, you’re ready to teach your students about digital citizenship — where do you begin? Begin wherever you see fit, but make sure to cover each of these important aspects of digital citizenship with your elementary, middle or high school students. 


ISTE Five Competencies of Digital Citizens

Review the five competencies of digital citizens with your students right off the bat. This will set the tone for upcoming digital activities. You may even decide to create a poster and hang these competencies in your room so students can be reminded of their responsibilities as online learners. 


  • I’m inclusive. I engage with others online with respect and empathy.
  • I’m informed. I evaluate the accuracy, perspective, and validity of others online.
  • I’m engaged. I use technology for civic engagement and as a force for good.
  • I’m balanced. I prioritize my time online and offline. 
  • I’m alert. I know how to be safe online and how to create safe spaces for all. 



As educators, we know that students learn best in authentic situations. Provide your students a safe platform for developing their digital citizenship with applications like Google Classroom or Seesaw

Both platforms utilize classroom feeds, teacher approval, and online discussion boards. The classroom feeds give students a space to post content of their choosing, though teacher approval is needed before the post can be published. Discussion boards provide opportunities for students to practice using appropriate online language and good digital etiquette. 


Digital Literacy 

Digital literacy refers to the ability to read information online, understand what it means, where it came from, and if it is accurate. This can be a difficult task for both students and adults. Because the internet is so accessible, anyone can post anything they want, regardless of whether the information is accurate. 

Teach your students how to spot clickbait, fake news, and evaluate the primary source of information. Students should evaluate the accuracy, perspective, and validity of the information they find online; identifying the source can give great insight on the credibility of the content. 



Give students the opportunity to develop digital citizenship and digital literacy at Typing.com. The extensive keyboarding curriculum is built for educators and offers customizable lesson plans, robust reporting tools, and standardized testing preparation. Beyond keyboarding, students will learn about computer basics and tech literacy, online safety, career preparation, and coding fundamentals. 


Get Connected, Get Online

Now that you’ve read about the nine themes of digital citizenship and how to teach digital citizenship to students, you’re ready to embrace the wonderful world of online learning. Get your Seesaw or Google Classroom set up and invite your students to start participating. Posting regular announcements online will give students more opportunities to engage online and practice their newfound digital citizenship skills. 


As our world becomes increasingly more technology-based, students need digital citizenship skills not just to succeed in the classroom, but to succeed in their life outside of school as well.