Digital Citizenship for 21st Century Learners

(This topic was presented by the author during EduTech Asia 2017 at Suntec Convention and Exhibition Center, Singapore last November 8-9.)


During the 18th to 19th Century’s Industrial Revolution, machineries replaced many jobs in factories, and increased productivity. The same is true when computers were first plugged to revolutionize technology. Some jobs shrinked and eventually diminished, as new ones were created because of the rise of the – DIGITAL AGE.

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It is pretty evident that the present world is run by technology. Merchants can be paid through phones where bank cards are connected to consumers’ Wechat money or Apple Pay accounts. People can ride public transportations like MRTs through beep cards or all-in-one bus cards. Families can feel secure that their homes are safe from burglars through CCTV cameras that can be viewed remotely. Mothers can work at home through their laptops and personal computers via the internet. Even hospital records and medical services are managed digitally. Technology is everywhere and can be accessed through our fingertips. It is used in different fields of work like business, engineering and agriculture. Education is not an exemption of these innovations in our society.


The introduction of the modern library and the pencil in the mid-1600s marked the beginning of the use of technology in education.  In the latter part of the 1970s, the very first computer was integrated into schools. By the early 1980s when IBM created the first PC, nearly twenty percent of schools in the UK and the US had computers in use (Parson, 2017).



Presently, the emergence of Apple’s iPad, Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Google’s Chromebooks are paving their way to the educational system. Tablets, laptops and even robots are situated in most of the modern-day classrooms, well, I should say in more developed countries.


According to Lev Vygotsky, culture and society impacts the intellectual development of children in a great extent. He claimed that infants are born with the basic abilities for intellectual development. Eventually, through interaction within the sociocultural environment, these are developed into more sophisticated and effective mental processes.


The use of technology in the classroom as tool for learning is culturally determined. In our innovating society, Edtech tools have been utilized by modern educators in relation to societal needs. Students are being prepared for their future jobs and even jobs that are not yet created. These tools enhance critical-thinking, creative-thinking and problem-solving skills of young learners.


However, as we equipped the students with the necessary knowledge and skills through integration of technology, are we also developing future leaders who are digitally sensitive and technologically responsible?


Are these students aware how to filter true and falsified information online? Are their personal information secured and safe? Or are they aware how plagiarizing occurs and how to avoid it?


Digital Citizenship is a concept which helps teachers, technology leaders and parents to understand what students, children or technology users should know to use technology appropriately. Digital Citizenship is more than just a teaching tool; it is a way to prepare students/technology users for a society full of technology (Ribble, 2017).


This has been a growing topic among educators because of the emergence of technology use in the classroom. Mike Ribble, author of Raising a Digital Child and one of the godfathers of Digital Citizenship at the forefront of leading education around these concepts in schools listed down 9 elements of Digital Citizenship.


This will help educators, and even parents, to be aware of the necessary skills that students should develop in utilizing technology,  just like how being a good citizen is. As we are advancing our society through technology, students should also be responsible in the digital world, whether it is posting a photo on facebook or making a comment on instagram. Students should be knowledgeable and practice etiquette in social media. They should also understand that not all the things or facts that they read or watch in the youtube are real. They should know which site is more valid and credible.


Educators should embrace Digital Citizenship as a way of thinking and should be integrated to the curriculum whenever possible. Whether making a research or writing blogs, educators should influence students to be digitally responsible, as this also reflects their personalities and characters.


WE are EDUCATORS. We should IGNITE the ideas of young people, INSTRUCT the minds of the students and INSPIRE the hearts of our future LEADERS through utilizing technology appropriately and properly.


Parson. (2017). The Ultimate History of Technology in Education. Retrieved from

McLeod, S. A. (2014). Lev Vygotsky. Retrieved from

Nazarian. (2014). Huffington Post. The Technology Revolution and Its Role in Our Lives. Retrieved from

Davis. (2016). edTech Digest. What is Digital Citizenship? Retrieved from

Mike Ribble. (2017). Digital Citizenship Using Technology Appropriately. Retrieved from

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