Digital Citizenship

It is important for students to be aware of Digital Citizenship and the principles and values behind the concept. The entire learning community is a network of online connections with digital links that connect us link the threads of a beautiful tapestry. Our lines of communication include email, however, also include Learning Management Systems (LMS) and Social Networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Linked In. Beyond this there is the never ending content that is published online and if we can source it then we are connected to this online world of content and we must use 'Netiquette'.

Director of District Media Resource Teacher (DMCT), Sharon Reynolds defines Digital Citizenship as "Being aware of and honouring the rights of copyright holders, understanding what constitutes plagiarism, and protecting the creative works of writers, artists, filmmakers and musicians".

It today's online world it is so easy to copy and paste content and download songs or pull videos from You Tube and publish them elsewhere. It is important to address the needs for this material to be dealt with responsibility and carefully and data managed appropriately. The sharing of content and information may breach copyright and therefore fines and worse punishment are possible. Regardless of the fines or administered punishment, we must simply be careful because it is 'the right thing to do' and shows respect and value for the work of others.

When constructing an assignment, it is evident if information is copied or plagiarised. The reason being that the flow of information that is presented changes and in some cases the context alters. Text construction can be easily detected by plagiarism software and more schools are beginning to employ this strategy to reduce failure to abide by copyright laws and Digital Citizenship protocols. http://turnitin.com/en_us/home is one such example of software that is available to screen student work.

When constructing an assignment students sometimes fall into the habit of copying and pasting text from the web and then changing words believing that this is then their own work. This cannot be further from the truth. I recommend the following steps to prevent plagiarism.

1. Source your information.
2. Print out the document.
3. Highlight the key facts in each paragraph.
4. Place sticky notes around the outside of the document.
5. Connect the sticky notes to each identified piece of information.
6. Define each point in your own words.
7. Repeat Steps 1 to 6 with a different document.
8. Pull off all of the sticky notes and put similar notes together.
9. Reorder the notes to create your own argument.
10. Use each of the categories to construct your own assignment and reference all information.


I followed these steps when completing my Master of Education at University of the Sunshine Coast. Within most assignments I obtained Distinctions or High Distinctions and found that this method of research creates deeper awareness and allows you to own the materials and approach the argument from your own perspective with clarity and complete understanding. At times I use to place the documents within a manila folder and place the sticky notes around the outside and for some assignments I might have ten folders. The method is rather simple and systematic and the approach works each and every time.

When it comes to saving and storing music there are plenty of safe methods of doing things such as using iTunes and purchasing your tracks as needed and storing them on your device or devices. Music tracks are not allowed to be shared with numerous people as this means that the author or musician is having their content distributed to people who have not actually purchased the item or album. This is also the same with film and media.

With email it is important for everyone to know that digital communication is not the substitute for face to face contact. Email can be overwhelming, partcilalurly when the traffic is never ending. Students need to be aware that only important issues should be discussed using email and that using 'Reply All' is only appropriate within a forum and not as an announcement on the latest score for Rugby or Tennis.

Furthermore, Social Media is an interesting one. People must be aware that any content that you publish to Facebook is actually owned by Facebook and therefore you almost deny yourself rights of ownership. Therefore, anyone can copy your images and save them and keep them. While this may not be right it certainly allowed and raises issues of Digital Citizenship and the need for everyone to be aware that in the same way that we use respect and manners in our real world we must also exercise these behaviours online.

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