Digital Learning: Guiding Principle 3

This is one of four posts encompassing my digital learning mission statement and guiding principles. They are work in progress and I would love your feedback.

Guiding Principle

Inspire competent digital citizens to actively participate in the world as learners, educators, and advocates for others in unique ways.


This integrates the the following various components discussed in my mission statement: sage, wise, thoughtful, adept, and healthy. Furthermore, competence is a holistic approach to digital citizenship. For example, competent digital citizens are flexible and adapt to new digital technology and circumstances. They have developed the five characteristics that provide the foundation to live in the digital world–and the physical offline world.

Actively Participating

In the third chapter of Net Smart, Rheingold (2012) advocates for “digital participation literacy” as a crucial component to digital life. He writes:

“Digital participation literacy” employs a toolbox of skills (persuasion, curation, discussion, and self-presentation foremost among them), and spans a range of involvement, from tagging a photo or bookmarking a site, to editing a Wikipedia page or publishing a blog. Like other social media literacies, there is a social element to participation literacy in addition to the individual how-to skills needed to participate. Crap detection is essential as well. Mindful participation also involves knowing how others profit from your unpaid labor, and making your own decisions about the value of what you get in return” (p. 114).

This literacy is key for digital citizens to actively participate and is part of a digital citizens competence discussed in the first point. For digital citizens to participate fully they must know how to do so well. Rheingold’s (2012) skills of persuasion, curation, discussion, and self-presentation are not new skills to learn. Rather, when practiced in digital spaces citizens must know how to translate the skills effectively and appropriately. Additionally, Rheningold advocated the need for finely tuned critical evaluation skills, “crap detection” when participating online. The ability to filter and find authentic, reliable, and trustworthy sources requires skills to evaluate content and the publisher of that content.


The wireless signals tied to copper and fiber transport ourselves, as digital citizens, to others across the globe. Competent digital citizens understand the world is at their fingertips and understand the ramifications of that. This means paying attention to socioeconomic, cultural, and language differences and taking appropriate action. Furthermore, because of this connectedness our society has transformed into a global society. We have the obligation and opportunity to learn from and with others across the globe. Our opportunities for community and relationship expands beyond our physical (offline) location in the world.


Digital citizens continue to seek out new knowledge and opportunities to learn from others across the globe. The engage with other cultures to learn from them and share together in creating new knowledge to share with others.


As competent and trained digital citizens their knowledge, expertise, and passions are shared and practiced. They participate in the world as contributors not just as consumers. Educators find opportunities to connect learners with each other and relevant educators and resources. They serve as mentors, teachers, friends, architects of new ideas, facilitators, and more.


As advocates, digital citizens continue the goal of empowering others to become “competent digital citizens actively participating in the world as learners, educators, and advocates for others in unique ways.” The process is never complete, rather the goal is to help others so that they can help others still. The work of advocacy becomes cyclical and powerful as it works towards providing access in three prongs of access–much like electricity delivered to a home.

Internet Access

Gilman and Iron (2011) reference a 2010 BBC study in which 80% of respondents said that everyone should have access to the internet because it is a basic human right. Essentially, the respondents argued that access to the internet is akin to access to food and water–very basic needs of humans. For humankind to flourish in a global 21st-Century world internet access is essential.

Hardware and Software Access

For others to access the internet they need up-to-date tools. These are digital citizens who, based on guiding principle 2, know what tools will work and what upcoming cheaper tools may work better. E.g. maybe a Chromebook will work great verse a $2000 MacBook Pro. We work with schools and other companies to provide access to cheap or free equipment. In addition we pay attention to environmental responsibility. We don’t advocate for shipping equipment overseas without accounting for the environmental impact.

Educational Access

One thing we often forget about is basic education of how to use the internet and the tools that provide access. As we advocate for others, we must remember not to forget this very important piece. Warschauer and Matuchniak (2010) write that most youth in the US have internet access available at home, school, or the library and the new digital divide is about training on the proper use and integration of educational technologies (p. 213).

Unique Ways

The work we do in the world must be unique to our identity and integrity, as Parker Palmer (2007) reminds us, “If the work we do lacks integrity for us, then we, the work, and the people we do it with will suffer” (p. 17). Furthermore, Palmer (2007) encourages us as educators as we live out our vocation as competent digital citizens, “Authority comes as I reclaim my identity and integrity, remembering my selfhood and my sense of vocation. Then teaching can come from the depths of my own truth- and the truth that is within my students has a chance to respond in kind” (p. 34). Each person has a unique interests, giftings, callings, vocation, or passions–whatever language you want to use–and as digital citizens advocating, educating, and more for others in the world there must be the reminder to be truly one’s self and not succomb towards leeming or cog work, resulting in, as Palmer warns, one’s identity and integrity becoming void.


Gilman, I. & Irons, L. (2011). “Open Access & Open Lives: The Changing Role of Academic Libraries.” In Barlow, J. (Ed.), Internet 2.0: After the Bubble Burst 2000-2010 (pp. 117-139). Forest Grove, OR: Berglund Center for Internet Studies.

Rheingold, H. (2012). Net smart: How to thrive online. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Palmer, P. J (2007). The courage to teach: Exploring the inner landscape of a teacher’s life. San Francisco, CA: Josey­Bass.

Warschauer, M. & Matuchniak, T. (2010). “New technology and digital worlds: analyzing evidence of equity in access, use, and outcomes. Review of Research in Education, 34, 179-225. doi:10.3102/0091732X09349791

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