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  6.  — Digital citizenship

Digital citizenship

Digital citizenship encompasses a range of capabilities that go beyond IT skills.


Netsafe defines a digital citizen as someone who (among other things):

  • Demonstrates honesty and integrity and ethical behaviour in their use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT).
  • Respects the concepts of privacy and freedom of speech in a digital world.
  • Uses and develops critical thinking skills in cyberspace.
  • Uses ICT to relate to others in positive, meaningful ways.

These concepts don’t just apply to students but the University community as a whole. Teaching staff are perfectly positioned to provide opportunities for students to develop digital competencies. For example, communicating appropriate behaviour (and leading by example) can help to avoid a problematic situations. Think about providing guidance to your students in relation to: online discussions, academic integrity, information privacy, and staying safe online.

“Digital citizenship is the continuously developing norms of appropriate, responsible, and empowered technology use.”


  • Be polite, respectful and unbiased – consider diverse perspectives and cultural differences.
  • Be authentic – share sentiments that you believe; avoid echoing those that you don’t.
  • Avoid causing harm – refrain from language that is curt, combative, derogatory etc., even when you are disagreeing with someone.
  • Know your audience – don’t assume how your comments are perceived.
  • Write to your audience – understand when it is appropriate to write formally / informally.


  • Read our code of conduct – what the University expects of you.
  • Respect the work of others – cite your sources and adhere to the values of academic integrity and copyright.
  • Act within the relevant terms of use – understand the rules of engagement between the parties.
  • Recognise the validity of online sources – cross check facts before (re-)posting.
  • Challenge inappropriate behaviour – prevent it becoming the new normal.
  • Learn about ICT policies – the University sets out expectations around the use of ICT.


  • Reduce barriers to access – not all users have the latest high-bandwidth device.
  • Design with all users in mind – your audience will have varying levels of IT savviness.
  • Design for accessibility – for example, not all users have 20-20 vision.
  • Practise your video presence – follow best practice for delivering video presentations.

Digital refers to three guiding principles to support and reinforce digital citizenship – safe, savvy, social.



  • Make good judgements – understand the appropriateness and necessity of your comments.
  • Be succinct – write just enough to get your point across.
  • Use an appropriate style – uppercase words can be interpreted as SHOUTING.
  • Apply a filter – asynchronous discussion lacks intonation. Avoid nuance, jargon and attempts at humour.
  • Avoid ambiguity – form clear, concise sentences. Identify your subject, especially when you could be misinterpreted.
  • Use appropriate tools – consider the purpose of different communication channels e.g. Canvas discussion vs twitter.


  • Show respect – be mindful of others’ time, motives, opinions, and values.
  • Embrace diversity – don’t be shy to engage with people who are dissimilar.
  • Don’t hide behind anonymity – this does not excuse you from your responsibility.

Page updated 16/05/2024 (minor edit)

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