Digital Citizenship: What’s its role in the classroom?

Digital Citizenship:

The term “citizen” implies a sense of belonging, typically denoting one’s inhabitance of or belonging to a particular place or group. But in the 21st century, the digital realm has become so fully integrated into our everyday lives that we must investigate what it means to inhabit the online world. That is where the term digital citizenship comes in.

According to, “Being a good digital citizen is more than knowing your way around the web. It’s about connecting and collaborating in ways you didn’t even know were possible. When you teach digital citizenship to your students, you help create a positive school culture that supports safe and responsible technology use.”  Essentially, this means using technology both ethically and responsibly.

The following image–sourced from–illustrates the 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship:


Fair Use:

Fair use refers to–under certain conditions–the reproduction and use of copyrighted work without obtaining permission from the copyright owner.

While browsing the University of California’s page on copyright, I came across the following table which breaks down factors of fair use:

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In further investigating what it means to be a digital citizen in the classroom, it’s important to consider the ways in which students use technology, and how this aligns with CCSS. For example, in ELA CCSS, students are often asked to use evidence to support claims. In order to correctly cite evidence, students must know how to responsibly do so. In the following video from The Teaching Channel, middle school teacher Novella Bailey guides students in learning about ‘fair use.’ In the lesson, students are presented with video clips which contain copyrighted material, and must note observations about what is and is not appropriate use of material.

Introducing the Topics of “Fair Use” in a Digital World


To preface with a definition, explains copyright as: “”the legal right granted to an author, a composer, a playwright, a publisher, or a distributor to exclusive publication, production, sale, or distribution of a literary, musical, dramatic, or artistic work.”

Essentially, copyright laws exist to protect the tangible work of the creator; ensuring that the creator is fairly compensated and has control on how the work is used.

As states,

Educators often ask the question “What can my students and I freely use in our lessons, presentations, workshops, newsletters, reports, and Web sites, and what is protected by copyright?”

The short answer is that nearly every original, tangible expression is copyrighted immediately upon creation. An author does not have to register the work, announce that the work is copyright protected, or display the copyright symbol to enjoy copyright protection. All he or she must do is create an original work in tangible form.

It is essential for students to learn about copyright laws for various reasons, especially considering the frequency in which students use outside sources in and outside of the classroom.  While knowledge about copyright laws can also educate students on rights about their own work, they can also learn how to responsibly use copyrighted work  without permission– through public domain and fair use.


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Creative Commons:

By definition, creative commons is a license used when the author of a work or works offers people the right to share, use, or modify said work(s).

Produced by, the following video explains how creators, institutions, and governments use Creative Commons licenses to shift from “Copyright: all rights reserved” to “Creative Commons: some rights reserved.”

As 1:30 of the video states, “We are now the steward of a global commons, a universe of free and open content shared under simple terms that can spark new ideas and solve global challenges.”  The license is particularly interesting in the realm of education, where learning is founded in practices of sharing, revising, modifying, and building upon both teachers’ and students’ knowledge.



Author: keelsmack

Keeley is a yoga-practicing goofball hailing from Huntington Beach, California. She spends her time painting portraits of brightly colored animals, eating overpriced granola, and trying to capture the oddities of existence via writing.

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