Deconstructing Digital Citizenship to Increase Understanding

In Ribble’s deconstruction of the concept of digital citizenship, he uses three categories or principles. Those are Respect, Educate, Protect.


His nine elements of digital citizenship include the following categories:

Digital Access – Access to digital resources has grown rapidly over recent years. But does if the resource is available using technology, or available digitally, does that mean that everyone can access it? Not always! We know that we have pockets of populations with limited resources, limited access to technology. We know also that some of our learners have limitations due to disabilities. Consideration of those limitations must be made when assessing the efficacy of digital resources.


Digital Literacy – Education our learners in the use of technology and digital resources is critical. But we also need to ensure that the learners know how to identify credible sources of information. Helping our learners know how to use the technology, and how to identify reputable, credible resources is imperative.


Digital Communication – Learning is a social experience, and creating opportunities that encourage engagement of our learners through digital communication might allow them to tap into the ways that emulate their social interaction with friends. Educators can leverage the technology – hardware and software – that our learners use for play as an engaging educational resource.


Digital Etiquette – Ensuring that our learners understand that the same norms we have in real-life social environments apply in the digital world is important. But they  need to also understand that inflection and intent may be misinterpreted through digital communication. Digital etiquette helps our learners understand the norms and expectations of communication in the digital environment.


Digital Rights and Responsibilities – Use of material that is not yours is only okay if you have permission. Our learners need to know that just because they have access to a resource does not mean that they can use that. It is important that we help them understand guidelines of fair use and copyright.


Digital Commerce – Digital commerce continues to grow. Companies like have changed the way we shop and purchase in general. Our learners need to understand how they might determine if a digital resource is reputable before they purchase goods and services through that resource.


Digital Law – Our learners need to know the laws with regard to the digital technologies they use. It is critical that they adhere to laws, and make informed choices when using digital resources.


Digital Health and Wellness Issues – In the digital environment it’s easy to forget that there are people on the other end of interactions and communications. Our learners need to understand that their use of digital resources cannot cause harm to any individual, group, or property.


Digital Security – Insuring that we are good stewards of our resources is critical. Ensuring that our learners understand security, and internet safety will help them to be better digital citizens. This includes securing their computers and other digital devices, but also includes making responsible decisions with regard to website access, application installation, and other choices that could compromise data, resources, and security.


If I categorized the nine elements according to the principles identified, we will see that overlap exists. Some of these elements address more than one of the principles, and the lines between those principles might become blurred.


Here is how I would classify them, according to the principles of Responsibility, Education, and Protection:

  • Responsibility – Digital Rights and Responsibility, Digital Commerce, Digital Law, Digital Health and Wellness Issues, Digital Security, Digital Communication
  • Education – Digital Access, Digital Literacy, Digital Access, Digital Etiquette, Digital Communication
  • Protection – Digital Law, Digital Rights and Responsibilities, Digital Etiquette, Digital Security, Digital Health and Wellness Issues

I really think the elements of digital citizenship could all fit under each principle in many ways. I suspect that revisiting this an another day would result in these categories moving around at least somewhat.