Global Digital Citizenship

The most important variable in collaboration is people. I keep coming back to the phrase that before collaboration can take place people need to make connections. Dr Wendy Kofoed and myself are presenting this very topic at Ulearn.  If you have questions for us you can add them here to our Q &  A Padlet.
Over the past two months, I have been making connections with three groups of educators as part of Connected Educator Month. I have been practising digital citizenship. I have been struggling to make sense of digital citizenship because I believe that citizenship is a strong enough word on its own. Why do I need to add digital in front of it to make it something other than what it is. I want to present this idea at my final Eduignite series where I hope by then my thinking is clearer. Monika @BeLchick1 has agreed to take on the challenge defining Citizenship as part of our #EdBookNZ project and I will be catching up with her soon to find out what she has been reading about on this very idea. Myself I agreed to work on connected educator and you can read about my thinking on connected educator here

In September I joined the second cohort of the Flat Connections Global Educators under the guidance of Julie Lindsay @julielindsay I am aiming to become a certified global educator by the end of this year. The outcome of that would be that I have led a global project and I would have worked with a group of #FlatConnect educators from around the world. I have taken part in several global projects and hence why I coordinate #TeachMeetNZ because here in New Zealand we are in still in the infancy stages of having our teachers working together nationally on national projects. Like the teachers blogs that have surfaced, evidence shows we are still in the early stages of collaboration. I have started to see some evidence of our teachers taking part in global projects with their classes but again I can count that on two hands. Some of that work you can see when I run the second TeachMeetNZ session this month as part of connected educator month.

Already I have adapted the work I do online with #TeachMeetNZ to align better with what I am learning. On reflection I know I have not given enough opportunities for the teams I work with each quarterly to make connections and to get to know each other. This is called a handshake activity. Therefore for this connected educator month I have set up a padlet for my handshake activity because I would like to implement what I am learning.
The first collaborative assignment involves Digital Citizenship –concept and practice? I am working with Ann Rooney @AnnRooney6 and you can read her blog post here on her current thinking around this. Julie gave us the term and a few guidelines as to how to go about carrying out the assignment and the rest is up to us.

So the first thing I do when I am writing is to activate a SOLO Taxonomy rubric and I have chosen an analogy map to help clarify my thinking. You can activate your own rubric from Pam Hook’s site. Virginia Kung, my SOLO  mentor at school  will be proud because that is always the first question she asks me, “Where is your rubric, Sonya?”
From the four years I have been using SOLO taxonomy in my teaching and learning I know that first step is to define my key idea.
So here goes. 

What is Digital Citizenship?
I am reflecting on citizenship through: all those online and offline experiences; conversations shared over scrambled eggs and bacon and through the screen; and books read online and by turning the paper pages.
Pam Hook – Personal Communication over scrambled eggs and bacon breakfast at Altar Mt Eden 3rd October 2014
“Any action that makes a positive difference to the common good can be construed as an act of citizenship. Enabling students to think critically about their own lives and society as a whole is a powerful way of making citizenship visible to them. To develop what Hayward (2012) refers to as a democratic imagination, motivation and involvement, students need a context where they have a voice and feel like they belong, matter and can make a difference. A context where they can value, and act in ways that promote, community and participation for the common good. A context where they can experience agency and demonstrate the rights and responsibilities they have as citizens.” Hook (2014 in Press) – Transport as a context for encouraging skilled and active citizenship) Pam Hook is writing about using the road as a commons – a shared space – as a context for citizenship but her arguments can just as easily be conceptualised through the use of digital technologies.
Pam’s question is: How might we build students’ democratic imagination, motivation and involvement as “digital citizens”?
At breakfast Pam talked about the different types/categories of citizenship – and how these might be helpful in thinking about building digital citizenship – referencing the work of Westheimer and Kahne
She asked what each of these might look like in  the context of digital citizenship.  We talked about how these categories might be expressed by students and educators – 

We think it might look something like this (draft thinking only).

Personally responsible citizens:
Participatory citizens:
Justice oriented citizens:
act responsibly
obey rules and laws
take skilled and active role in groups that work for the common good
know effective strategies for collaborative action
seek social justice, equity, human rights and moral rightness
take skilled action for social change
know effective strategies for changing existing practice
Newmarket School
Curriculum connection:
Not Self But Service- Newmarket’s first Motto
Newmarket School Curriculum connection: Student Leadership Programme at Newmarket School
Newmarket School Curriculum connection:
Students taking on a glocalisation project to benefit our local environment.
EG:I would like to see here what we are doing to minimise traffic around our inner city school.
Digital citizen example:
Educators volunteer to take part in an online project where they act in ways that will benefit others.
An example here would be the GlobalClassroom chats I have hosted and co-hosted on a variety of topics.
Digital citizen example:
Educators take a skilled and active role in a group that hosts and or organises online projects for the benefit of others.
An example here would be the #EdChatNZ conference that has taken place recently
Digital citizen example:
Educators experience a form of context collapse – and exercise “pedagogical activism” to understand whose voices are amplified – and whose voices are muted or not heard. They work to include in the conversation those whose are excluded by the process and or the technology that enables online projects  – They ask what are the unforseen consequences of online projects – e.g. Postmans questions – who is advantaged – who  disadvantaged and who remains unaffected by online projects – and then they work to find clumsy solutions to address this
eg: where are the Pasefika educators hiding online. I plan to host a TeachmeetNZ totally in Samoan as part of Samoan Language week in 2015.
Digital citizen example:
Students taking part in the Skoodle Badge system (or equivalent) – or using SOLO rubrics for blog commenting – learning how to behave online for the common good
(A teacher has just created a badge system for her class.)
Digital citizen example:
Students setting up a FaceBook group to support other students in their year group – course – church or social group
Digital citizen example:
Educators and students  develop knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours about and for
·       technology access, 
·     technical awareness, 
·     individual awareness
·       social awareness
·       cultural awareness
·       global awareness for personally responsible citizen outcomes  
Educators and students  develop knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours about and for
·       technology access, 
·     technical awareness, 
·     individual awareness
·       social awareness
·       cultural awareness
·       global awareness for personally responsible citizen outcomes  
Educators and students  develop knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours about and for
·       technology access, 
·     technical awareness, 
·     individual awareness
·       social awareness
·       cultural awareness
·       global awareness for personally responsible citizen outcomes  

Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds: Move to Global Collaboration One Step at a Time 

Part of purchasing the course book gives me access to further online resources including access to a glossary and this is what this is what I found on Pearson’s resource site.
Digital Citizenship is the ‘Norms of online behaviour. A person practising effective digital citizenship understand the technology and can relate his or her behavioural choice according to social cultural and global norm.’ 

I am not sure if ‘norms’ necessarily captures citizenship – what it is to work for the common good. Couros suggests that – ‘Digital Citizenship needs to concern itself much more with social responsibility and social learning than is currently being addressed.’ Dr Alec Couros  Flattening Classrooms. Engaging Minds, Pg 97
The observations by Couros are supported by the conversations with Hook – see above.
When educators are connected to resources and create learning environments to help students form educated opinions and behaviours for online safety they are acting as citizens – acting in ways that promote the common good. 

There are five areas in which personally responsible, participatory and justice oriented citizens can act to promote the common good in and with online environments. These are: technology access, technical awareness, individual awareness, social awareness, cultural awareness and global awareness. From Flattening Classrooms. Engaging Minds Chapter 5, Citizenship, In the enlightened digital citizenship model. I will take these terms in turn and use them to better understand what I do when I act as a participatory citizen with TeachMeetNZ. (refer ticks in grid below). I note that there are other elements that can be addressed. So already I can see how to make what I do online even better.

Type of citizenship
technology access
technical awareness
individual awareness
social awareness
cultural awareness
global awareness
personally responsible citizen
participatory citizen
justice oriented citizen

Technology Access: Tools for Collaboration. In order for collaboration to take place the educators that I work with must have access to Asynchronous Communications such as twitter, and google+ communities and via gmail because we are using a google product. Communication takes place asynchronously in that the participants do not generally communicate concurrently. However when we move to the live streamed event, we use synchronous tools such as google hangout and even twitter. Therefore communication takes place in real time. When the session is over we move back to asynchronous communications such as twitter, a blog reflection and commenting on each others blog and a wind back of the hangout via youtube. The  educators that I work with develop their presentations using a communication conduit such as google presentation and the group wiki through which ideas flow between themselves and me on their presentation. I can see their slides develop as they are being built and can give feedback. The communication conduit happens too via the google + community and via twitter where we use the #TeachMeetNZ. I have added a facebook page too but at this stage I still find twitter the best place to pass messages through. 

Five areas of awareness

This next part of my reflection involves walking the educators through the process of the TeachMeetNZ sessions and their learning framed with the five areas of awareness that develop as their online learning unfolds.The first term is technical awareness. Educators are faced with a new tool such as using google hangout to present their learning. They generally have a basic awareness of the features and functions of Google Hangout. Many of the educators I work with are also new to wikis and presenting on #teachmeeetnz is usually the first time that they have created a presentation that is Asynchronous.

Next Individual awareness evolves as the educator decides how they will create their slides for sharing with an audience. The first thing learnt is making a copy of the presentation template. They also learn how to respond to a call and learn how to use the tools.  We have three practise sessions before the min event. 

Then during the first face to face virtual practise session, social awareness takes place. I see the educators tagging and linking to each other via twitter and adding each other on google +. I also see how the slides evolve as they personalise their presentation. Some take the slides and totally rehash them, others create their own sequence and I have even had a couple choose a totally different media too to present with. From these experiences I can see my own progress in social awareness develop as I had not even thought of using some of these ideas for presenting. 

After that cultural awareness happens as the educators learn about each other, from each other and understand what they have in common. They make connections with each other via same interests, same education levels, same cities that they live in, and even same cultural background. They find out family facts and put a face to a twitter handle. Some make connections because what they hear about is new learning for them and so generally go and find out more about the topic before the next hangout practise takes place. 

Finally global awareness happens, as the hangout is live streamed and feedback comes in from countries on the other side of the globe. The educators are excited that someone as far away as Brazil, or Spain or Finland stopped by to hear their story. They realise the impact of what has happened. For me the most exciting thing is seeing what happens next. I observe several who have joined me suddenly blossom in online confidence and I see them leading other initiatives and being rewarded with recognition from the education community both nationally and globally. In addition I love reading their blog reflections of the process and several have told me that their blog readership spike after having taken part in a session with me.

Developing a democratic imagination as a connected online educator.

 An awareness of these five areas is the beginning of developing a democratic imagination online – of digital citizenship. These five areas of awareness are like a lens to look at the behaviours we demonstrate online. In SOLO I would call this outcome multistructural thinking. The teachers that I work with know what it means to be online. They are not taught about digital citizenship but through the experience of being a digital citizen – it is through participating in an online project like TeachMeetNZ where they work with educators from around New Zealand and that by living the story, this is an effective process of learning about citizenship. From reading Flattening Classrooms. Engaging Minds Chapter 5, Citizenship, In the enlightened digital citizenship model, the best behaviour filter we have is “the space between the ears of the person using a computer”.  I love this phrase and have used it even with our teachers.

This filter is created through:  

Safety, Privacy, Copyright, Fair Use and Legal compliance. As the teachers create their presentation, they ensure that the images they use do not give away their children’s personal details.  As they mash and rehash resources, they must ensure that what they used has been referenced and acknowledged. From the chapter on digital citizenship I realise that I must stress the copyright sections with the educators that I work with. By taking part in a TeachMeetNZ session they allow their work to be shared on the TeachMeetNZ wiki and with that comes responsibility to their school and the children that they teach. I remind educators taking part about transparency and ask that their slides are visible to the audience using an embed widget.

Etiquette and Respect. The teachers learn about being respectful of other educators and learn how to give and receive feedback. A thought that keeps surfacing is disruption and I think that sometimes in education we live in an online bubble and communicate with like mindedness. Therefore missing the voice that asks us the difficult question. So we can ask the hard questions and still be respectful of the educators who ask us hard questions. In fact I welcome educators who ask hard questions I call them disruptive and use that term positively. 

Habits of Learning: Responsible Management of Online Activity. This section focusses on appropropriate habits of learning in the digital age. It focusses on the students but from my lens I focus on the teachers. TeachMeetNZ is an academic space and reflects an understanding of appropriate behaviour that is different from how the educators interact socially online. Reliability is shown by having an online presence. The chapter talks about the digital footprint and I talk about the digital tattoo because I often make reference to my personal tattoo. The educators are reliable contributors and collaborators in online spaces.

The beginnings of thinking for justice oriented citizenship 

Thinking about representation and flat leadership. It is interesting to note that educators who take part in a Teachmeetnz session with me are all involved with twitter, all have a blog and all have digital spaces that they contribute too. They are leaders on the VLN, early Pond adopters. In addition they have other education communities that they are part of or lead. Personally I call this being an educator and a citizen  It just is. However, they are not representative of the wider community of educators doing great work in teaching and learning – and as connected educators and citizens we must not forget this. The TeachMeetNZ site is still dominated by me leading and I am trying to change that by encouraging other educators to lead. This is happening, but it is not fast enough for me. Using SOLO Taxonomy I can see that use of the space is currently at a multistructural level. The scary part is I can see where to take it to relational and extended abstract. But that is another blog post and that thinking is evolving using SOLO Taxonomy  and because I am involved in this certification process with Flat Connections.

Thinking about Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Hook (personal conversation) asks how we can design online groups and teach meets so that the conversations, learning materials and ideas can be accessed in multiple way – do we provide “multiple ways of presenting materials for learning”? Do we provide “multiple means of contribution – expression and action for learning”? This thinking should become our default design when thinking about initiatives for developing digital citizenship. 

Thinking about literacy and fluency. Language in New Zealand differs. Alongside our Maori Culture we have a vibrant Pasifika Community with representatives from all islands. Being Samoan I notice online in education that Pasefika and Maori educators are few and far between. So I am always on the lookout for Pasefika and Maori educators to join me. Last July I ran a CLESOL focussed TeachMeetNZ and was excited to have representation from both groups presenting with me. In Aotearoa New Zealand particularly in Auckland we already have a vibrant cultural representation so why is this not reflected online in our education circles. Yes it is growing but again is still in early stages. My goal is to run a TeachMeetNZ totally in Samoan and one totally in Maori. So if you are of those two groups you will already know that I have been shoulder tapping you to join me. I am aiming to support a session in 2015 during both language weeks in New Zealand. 

So where is this all leading too?
The post is to clarify my thinking around Digital Citizenship, but I continue to struggle. I think the term lends itself better to just being citizenship – to ask how do we act with others in ways that enhance the common good online and offline? Yes the technologies certainly make our task of collaboration transparent and easier to coordinate but ultimately it is about people. It is about building relationships for the common good and we do this by making connections online and offline and in the between. Easier – is not necessarily better – any time, any place, must not neglect the anyone.
In Samoa I would be asked: O ai oe? O ai lou aiga? O ai lou matai? Fea lou nu’u? or Who are you? Who is your family? Who is your village leader? Which village do you come from?
In Maori we say He aha te mea nui o te ao?  He tangata! He tangata! He tangata! What is the most important thing in the world?  It is people! It is people! It is people!
Image created by students from Newmarket School.


Hayward, B. (2012). Children, Citizenship & Environment: Nurturing a democratic imagination in a changing world. Routledge.Westheimer, J. and Kahne, J. (2004). Educating the “Good” Citizen: Political choices and pedagogical goals. American Political Science Association

Hook, P. (2014 in Press). Transport as a context for encouraging skilled and active citizenship. NZTA

Lindsay, J., & Davis, V. (2013). Citizenship. In Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds Move towards Collaboration One step at a time. Pearson.

Lindsay, J. (2014, March 1). Digital citizenship: A global perspective. Retrieved October 5, 2014, from

14 thoughts on “Global Digital Citizenship

  1. Thank you Julie, when I think back to our first virtual connection and had set an #efellowship goal to be part of a #Flatconnect. Here I am training with you to become certified has far exceeded my expectations. I am learning so much and love what I am achieving in regards to understanding the learning process. My SOLO mentors +PamHook and +VirginiaKung will be nodding in agreement. The course focusses on collaborative learning, we are documenting that process and I am able to frame my learning using SOLOtaxonomy which is why I think I am being extended as an educator. I love the discussions taking place between my team mates and this reinforces the concept that learning is not a journey one takes alone.


  2. Posting this comment again as it has not appeared yet……

    Sonya, this post I will need to read and re-read to absorb all of the thinking you are sharing. It is certainly a testament to your deeper thinking and learning – and I appreciate you sharing some frustration regarding teachers who are not also pushing the limits or in fact are not even considering connected learning modes. General consensus recently is that 'digital citizenship' should become 'global citizenship' or just 'citizenship' and I love your rubric -based approach to show how passive could become active in this area. In fact our Flat Connections Digiteen and Digitween projects focus on this as well – learning about being a global citizen through shared understanding and then action project implementation. Thank you for a thought-provoking and intensely diverse post!


  3. Whoah Chrissie I feel humbled with your feedback. In particular for UDL. I would never have thought of some of these ideas. In addition being a bilingual learner, giving the audience an opportunity to be able to translate the notes into their language would certainly remove more barriers to learning. I do not know what you mean by closed captions on the videos but will certainly investigate further. I love the idea of removing barriers to to participation and have been building connections too to having more participants from other language backgrounds in New Zealand. Julie Lindsay calls this level cultural awareness. At this stage I have a narrow understanding but with all the discussion, I am learning all this time. Thanks for stopping by.


  4. Talofa Sonya.

    Pam gave me a prod, to alert me to your post. Great thinking.

    Universal Design for Learning is a great tool for helping us to identify, minimise or hopefully remove barriers to participation and learning in online spaces. The principles themselves are a good place to get started but it is really once you get into the 3 guidelines and checkpoints associated with each principle that it gets meaty.

    So for example, if we just think about learning materials, creating them at the outset so that they are flexible (adjustable) and can be individually accessed by participants before and during a TeachMeet is really helpful. Some folk will want to enlarge the font, flick back and forth etc. If you use videos, selecting those with closed captions is a bonus. This just offers another mode to support understanding. NB: Closed Captions are those that have been deliberately added by the film maker, not those guessed by YouTube, which are called automatic captions. Just in case some people are unfamiliar with the difference.

    Re supporting multiple pathways to contribute to discussions, one place to start would be to think through what might be some of the barriers that would inhibit people from contributing their thinking. Next base would be to then consider what might be some of the ways those barriers could be removed and to build into the design a range of options that considered both technical constraints, e.g wobbly wifi, tech in a temper following the Yosemite Apple update, inexperience with the platform and also social preferences, e.g some people would prefer to type rather than speak in a large hang out.

    Last up, just asking participants for specific feedback related to one guideline after each TeachMeet is also a cool way to steadily increase the effectiveness of the environment and its accessibility.

    Cheers Chrissie

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Awww Monika Thanks heaps for taking time to share what you have been reading. It was interesting to Hear Tony Ryan speak today about Justice and learning as this is something quite new and yet quite old to me. Maybe I wasn't ready for it the first time around. I have also been revisiting and unpacking the Netsafe resource again. That is still a great site. I look forward to your post about #EdBooKZ and how you view where you are up to with Citizenship.


  6. I love your thoughtful and disruptive post! I agree with you on so many points, hence snatching up 'citizenship' for our CEM project.

    My understanding of SOLO is extremely shallow (yet another topic to add to my never-ending reading list!), I can see how you skilfully weave them together but I don't feel I can comment on this aspect. I am very intrigued though by Flat Connections, one of my teachers actually talked about joining this course, also. To me it seems that we adults need to work a lot harder to connect and to collaborate, where for children this is a lot more natural. Therefore, is the term 'digital' more or only relevant to adults, especially less connected adults? Are our needs to distinguish between different spaces holding back the connecting of our learners? (this reminds me of discussions between prescribing what device a child must have at school and BYOanyD, the former often put in place to support the teacher, not necessarily the learner!).

    As part of my research (bulk yet to come I'm afraid), I have just looked at different definitions of citizenship, here are two excerpts from Wikipedia:
    “How citizenship is understood depends on the person making the determination. The relation of citizenship has never been fixed or static, but constantly changes within each society.”, also “Citizenship is a status in society. It is an ideal state as well. It generally describes a person with legal rights within a given political order. It almost always has an element of exclusion, meaning that some people are not citizens, and that this distinction can sometimes be very important, or not important, depending on a particular society.” (
    Interestingly enough the Wikipedia mention of Digital Citizenship is very brief ( I am now intrigued by the idea of 'exclusion', of someone not being a citizen, and I will have reflect more on this.

    Being online is a big part of my life and the life of my family members and no longer separate from it. I see my actions in cyberspace following the same values I apply in other aspects of my life, and they closely relate to Andrew Church's “6 Tenets of Citizenship” which I like to rephrase to “Protect and respect myself, others and intellectual property” ( In different contexts these values are expressed differently: In Germany my students would have known me as “Frau Kern”, in New Zealand schools I am “Miss”, “whaea” and “Monika”, and in Twitterland I am “BeLchick1”. All of these are respectful in their own contexts (I could go on about the other values but I am sure you understand what I mean).

    So where does this leave (digital) citizenship? I am not quite sure yet! I am quite adamant that we should take digital away, but watch this space to see if I can make a convincing point for this!

    (PS: Sorry for the novel!)


  7. This is an absolute fantastic and thought provoking post Sonya! I love how you always reflect on everything you do and looking for the next step. What a great example you set for everyone – to continue to learn and extend ourselves.
    Nga mihi nui 🙂


  8. Alex, thanks a lot my twitter buddy. Yes, creating a rubric always clarifies my thinking, and the discussion with Pam clarified what was happening, It was because I was at multistructural with my understanding. I think it has shifted to relational, and with the work I am doing with with Julie Lindsay and team, I hope my understanding deepens even more. I want to share this learning journey at my final Eduignite presentation. I initially planned to present about Digital Citizenship, but now can see it is citizenship and does not required the digital in front. I cant wait to have a korero too with Monika and hopefully Andrew. I want to explore justice orientated citizenship in further detail with my SOLO mentor Virginia Kung as we are working together trialling a school resource that is all abut citizenship. We are sharing that journey at Ulearn.


  9. LOL Fiolae Sole, and not (S.O.L.E) I would not have thought about the Solo. Fiu le ata ma sao lelei. Ua pa lou mafafau i lenei masina. Ua tele le galuega malosi i le lalolagi atoa. Ua tele foi lou galuega i luga o le upegatafaailelagi o 'TeachMeetNZ'. Faafetai ua e asiasi mai ma tusi ni upu faamalosi mo lenei tagata.


  10. Loved this Sonya! Particularly liked your rubric and different types of awareness. Think it's important to reflect on the idea of what digital citizenship is – and how really – it should be just citizenship. However – I'm finding that more and more people aren't comfortable with their children being digitally literate and we need to be aware of that as well. Case in point – the article in my latest post. Nga mihi nui ki a koe 🙂 Looking forward to your presentation at ULearn 🙂


  11. Malo lava ia lou sūsūga Sonya. Thank you for sharing Samoan Pasifika mind globally and more especially with the Pasifika community like myself. I am so grateful I have connected with you online because our minds work alike…Pasifika styles in a virtual world…hehe.
    I always enjoy reading your posts and this particular post hooked my Pasifika mind for many reasons. For example, Solo Taxanomy hooked me. As an ex teacher, I've used this model with my class and it gives me quick formative assessment for all students particulary my Māori and Pasifika students. I totally support you're thoughts and ideas. For Pasifika learners to make connections to new learning, they always refer back to prior knowledge, always! If our Pasifika learners haven't made that connection at Pre-Structural level, then more scaffolding is required. If they have made that connection at Muti-structural level, you have them hooked. Solo is like Sōlo ( bath towel in Samoan). Without a towel, I am naked and lost, embarrassed to ask for help. With a towel, it begins my confidence to learn the next step. Faafetai for sharing my friend. Lets build on your idea of literacy and fluency to connect with our Pasifika communities online. Keep on keeping on and together, lets make a difference for our Māori and Pasifika communities. Ia manuia le masina Oketopa, ma āso fanau!


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