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    Teaching Global Digital Citizenship? Use These 10 Essential Questions

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    Teaching Global Digital Citizenship? Use These 10 Essential Questions

    Teaching Global Digital Citizenship is all about asking the right questions. Today kids are building the foundations of a digital culture.

    They are contributors, creators, communicators, and designers. They author, produce and provide digital information all the time. We can ask them challenging questions and get insightful answers!

    A Global Digital Citizen practices leadership, ethics, global awareness, and personal responsibility. They act and speak with virtue and integrity. They have a healthy respect and responsibility for themselves. They care for others and for all physical and intellectual property.

    Here are 10 essential questions for teaching Global Digital Citizenship. Use them to get lively discussions going in your classroom. Ask how students feel about these issues. Explore ideas that make teaching Global Digital Citizenship effective and engaging.


    10 Essential Questions for Teaching Global Digital Citizenship

    • How can students source and use content for multimedia projects safely and ethically?
    • What can students do to keep themselves safe in their social media environments?
    • How can we manage and minimize the negative impact of our "digital footprint?
    • How will I show appreciation and respect for any intellectual property provided for free online?
    • How can I share my interests and skills with others?
    • How can we preserve and protect our health when using technology?
    • How can we use technology and teamwork to help local and global communities?
    • How can we help people in different parts of the world lead better lives?
    • What can we do to stand up against bullying and cyberbullying?
    • What projects can students collaborate on to learn about other world cultures?

    Search and Share Ethically

    How can students source and use content for multimedia projects safely and ethically?

    There are many ways to find open-source content. Sites like MorgueFile and Pixabay are great examples for top-quality images. This is work that photographers have placed online for free use. 

    Students—and all of us, in fact—need to be careful about checking the background of what is on Google. Google Advanced Searches and using Creative Commons are also a safe bet. Sometimes the results they show are properties that are still licensed to some degree.

    It's a good practice to cite sources and link to original works. Students should also seek permission to use content wherever possible. Always properly attribute a website or post if using a quote or text from that source.

    Be Social Media Savvy

    What can students do to keep themselves safe in their social media environments?

    Social media profiles are an integral part of the connected student's life. It's how they communicate, collaborate, and share their lives. They need to know how they can protect themselves and keep these domains safe.


    Employers and post-secondary schools view social media sites of candidates they screen. What they see is what they use to decide to accept that individual or not. This means only posting appropriate content. Students must be careful with pictures and updates they post on profiles. They must also consider the names they choose. Use the "Grandma Rule." If you wouldn't say it or show it to your grandmother, don't post it!

    It's very easy to change privacy settings on social networking sites. They can do this so only friends can see their information. For Facebook tips, check out this article by Marilynn McLachlan.

    Follow Your Footprint

    How can we manage and minimize the negative impact of our "digital footprint?"

    Remember these 4 words: The Internet is forever. What gets posted online never really goes away. It can still be retrieved by anyone who knows how. This article from Mashable shows you how deep the "digital footprint" goes.

    It includes two kinds of information:

    • active information such as what we put on social media
    • passive information, which is things like web cookies

    Companies use this information for target marketing. It's a virtual roadmap of how we consume certain products. Ask students this question: If their name was typed into a web search, what would people see about them? Is there anything they wouldn’t want anyone to know about?

    There are guidelines students can follow for cleaning up their digital footprints:

    • Never post anything that places you in a bad light later on. This includes web searches and comments in blogs and sites like YouTube.
    • Be careful with schedules and personal info. Try not to disclose addresses, phone numbers, bank card numbers unless necessary.
    • Information posted online is almost impossible to remove. Web archiving and file sharing ensure we've got online records for life. Even when deactivate or delete old accounts, it's still out there.

    Be Kind

    How will I show appreciation and respect for any intellectual property provided for free online?

    In teaching Global Digital Citizenship we teach the responsibility of ownership. Students create and use online information like many others. They can learn to recognize the hard work in developing and sharing intellectual property.

    The commenting features sometimes get disabled on videos, blogs, and photo galleries. This happens because of cruelty and abuse from anonymous viewers. Let your students know they are better than that! They can set an example by supporting and inspiring others.

    teaching global digital citizenship tablets

    Teach them not to post things to bully, blackmail, insult, or harm others. Lead them towards seeing the benefits of giving positive reinforcement. They should also feel safe to share their own work. A kind word goes a long way!

    Share Your Smarts

    How can I share my interests and skills with others?

    Another part of teaching Global Digital Citizenship concerns sharing knowledge. There is always something a student can do well. Maybe it’s a hobby or interest, or a subject they excel in. Why not encourage them to share what they do best?

    Create an open discussion in class about how we learn from others in the digital age. Look at examples of blogs, wikis, and videos. What makes these things interesting, unique, and informative?

    Our students are inherently creative. Encourage them to share what they do with larger audiences. If they know lots about a topic or are passionate about it, they can create resources for others. Show them how to give benefit from what they know.


    Have students choose a subject or hobby they are interested in and know a lot about. Guide them towards choosing how they want to share what they know. Ask them what they think is the best way to share it and why.

    Great ways to do this are to create digital online resources. Students can do things like:

    • start a blog
    • write a wiki
    • host a web page
    • record a podcast episode
    • create a video for their own YouTube channel
    • design an ebook or a white paper

    Encourage them to be as creative as possible! Check out this article about blogging from Pernille Rip. You can also look at EdTechTeacher's student video curriculum for some inspiration.

    Practice Tech Health

    How can we preserve and protect our health when using technology?

    "Screen time" isn't just a parental term. It applies to classrooms, living rooms, and workplaces everywhere. The way to minimize the effects of too much time with digital technology is practicing "tech health." These tricks hep students stay fit for digital work and play.

    Screens produce an artificial illumination that can affect melatonin. This is the hormone that we produce in anticipation of darkness. It regulates our sleep cycle and our "internal clock." This NY Times article cites an interesting study done at Rensselaer Institute. The Sleep Judge also offers this article with interesting facts on how tech disrupts our sleep patterns.

    When working with their devices, encourage students to take eye breaks and stretch breaks. Make use of the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes focus for 20 seconds on something 20 feet away.

    Good desk posture is also very important. This article from Reach Your Peak provides great information on desk posture. Share it with students and help them sit, learn, and create better.

    Sometimes when doing creative things, we get stuck for ideas. When this happens we'll suddenly "draw a blank." Ask any artist, musician, or designer how frustrating this can be. This is the perfect time for a student to have another brain break. That means getting up and focusing on something else

    It allows the block to dissolve and frustration to pass. Often this is all it takes to get in touch with that elusive idea. Frequent eye, ear, and body breaks will help students remain productive.

    Contribute to Communities

    How can we use technology and teamwork to help local and global communities?

    There are lots of ways for students to honor folks in any community. They can invite local professionals in to give talks on their craft. You can also set up web conferences with them through Skype.

    Check out this video from Skype's YouTube channel to see how students are contributing to local and global communities. This is great for teaching Global Digital Citizenship skills.



    Students can also help businesses grow their web traffic by offering to work on their websites as school projects. Try organizing other schools in community clean-up challenges. You can also create fundraisers for local community projects through Kickstarter or Indiegogo.

    Touch Global Lives

    How can we help people in different parts of the world lead better lives?

    Crowdfunding is a beneficial part of starting up businesses and projects of all sorts. It can surprise you how many people out there are willing to help others. It's what makes this a truly global culture.

    This is the kind of thing that has made organizations like Kiva so successful. Students can receive a fantastic learning experience from a project that involves Kiva.



    Kiva is a micro-lending service that lets you donate a loan to people in need all over the world. Schools can change lives for the better with a service like this. Try out a campaign and give students a chance to help someone far away.

    Make a Stand

    What can we do to stand up against bullying and cyberbullying?

    A big aspect of teaching Global Digital Citizenship is taking a stand against bullies and cyberbullies. Being bullied is a degrading and terrifying experience. Kids can help each other by listening, learning, and acting out.

    Invite students to create resources like videos and presentations about the subject. They can also work with other schools on anti-bullying campaigns. Students must be encouraged to talk about the subject in safe and supportive environments.

    Here are some great online resources for you to explore cyberbullying:

    Connect with Culture

    What projects can students collaborate on to learn about other world cultures?

    Teaching students to understand other cultures shapes great citizens. Have students show an understanding of culture with exploration projects. They could be like web slideshows, documentaries, cultural spotlights, and more.

    Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2017 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

    Originally published Feb 8, 2017, updated September 18, 2021

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