Home – Welcome to Digital Citizenship

Helping students blend their digital and non-digital lives into a healthy, inspired approach to living.


Welcome to a course about digital citizenship, a relatively new area of inquiry that has emerged because of our desire to help students manage their digital lifestyles safely and responsibly, without losing their sense of excitement and opportunity.

Why digital citizenship?

The web is so pervasive and invisible, and provides access to so many different kinds of experiences, that we have developed a keen and sometimes urgent interest in understanding how best to help our children navigate this new world.

In the K12 educational arena, this interest has been given the name “digital citizenship,” a reference to our belief that the internet offers a kind of community experience. Our goal as educators is to help students, as well as ourselves, develop the skills and perspectives necessary to be able to interact in this new community in ways that help the community flourish in healthy, creative ways.

A primary goal of this course is to address the overabundance of resources in the area of digital citizenship. In my thirty+ years in educational technology, I have never seen an area of interest grow so rapidly in so many directions. The result is that educators are a bit overwhelmed by the resources, perspectives, activities, and opportunities available to them. It is my hope that this course helps participants navigate a pathway through this area’s many issues and resources. Toward that end, we look at digital citizenship in three parts, at three levels: Part I- The Big Picture, Part II- Tools and Resources, and Part III- Topics and Student Activities.

In fact there is so much to consider and explore, a course like this could – and should, from a lifelong learning perspective – go on forever. What we address in this course just scratches the surface. But hopefully it will open up avenues of inquiry and application for you that can help you customize your approach to digital citizenship and help improve the ways you meet your needs in this area.

Who is this course for?

The primary audience for this course is K12 education community members, including teachers, students, administrators, and school board members. But this course is also for parents, community members, anyone from government or business- in short, anyone interested in the larger issues involved in living, learning, working and having fun in the digital age, particularly as those issues impact our children.

Two Ways to Take the Course/Course FAQs

How does this course work? It can be taken in two ways:

ED 593- Professional Development version of the course. This is the formal, for-credit version of the course. Unlike a regular masters level course, all work is graded credit/no credit, no final project is due and tuition is greatly reduced. Students join the class conversation about the materials each week. Course parameters: partial tuition, pass/fail final grade, all work evaluated pass/fail.MOOC OAC digital citizenship 2 circles

An OAC (Open Access Course) for “extended students”, a fancy way of saying “anyone.” The course discussion and materials are available to the public. For course materials, come to this website. To join the discussion, join the Google+ Community Digital Citizenship MOOC 2014. Course parameters: no tuition, no requirements, no grades.

A few notes about MOOCs vs. OACS. The first time I offered this course, I did so as a MOOC- a “massively open online course.” The intent was simply to open the course to anyone who wanted to take it. Those who paid tuition and completed assignments received credit, but everyone else was open to use course materials and be involved in course discussion.

Since that time, the term “MOOC” has taken on so many meanings, that it didn’t seem wise continue to use it. Instead, this course is an OAC (pronounced OAK): an Open Access Course. This simply means that the course is open to anyone who wants to be involved- no charge, no assignments.

The course can be used as an organized body of knowledge, as the basis for courses by other institutions, for in-services, or personal educational pursuits. It can be used by parents, teachers, businesses, school boards or government agencies as a reference for better understanding the issues and opportunities associated with living a digital lifestyle. For extended students the course is free and there is no grading involved. However, they can still be involved in the conversations going with professional development students.

Specifics, questions/answers about the course

When does the course occur?
Spring semester, 2015 (January 19 to May 4).

Taught by?
Myself (Jason Ohler), President’s Professor and Professor Emeritus, Educational Technology, University of Alaska; Professor, Fielding Graduate University, Media Psychology PhD program.

The Educational Technology Master’s Program
Director, Dr. Lee Graham

The University of Alaska Southeast, School of Education
Dean, Dr. Deborah Lo

How to register?
For step-by-step instructions on how to register for the course, download this registration sheet. When you fill out the form you will need the following information:

  • Term: Spring 2015
  • Course Reference Number: 40328
  • Subject: ED
  • Course: S593
  • Section: J
  • Title: ST: Digital Citizenship
  • Online Registration Close Date: 4/2/2015

If you have questions, contact: Lara R Murphey-Waite (lrmurpheywaite@uas.alaska.edu) from the Professional Education Center.

Course requirements
Each week students need to complete two activities:

  1. Add to the Google+ Community Conversation. Each student needs to post one major response to the week’s course material, and at least 3 responses to colleagues’ postings.
  2. ePortfolio posting. Each week students need to post a one-page essay on their ePortfolios. This needs to be a reflective essay that addresses one idea in standard format: introduction, development, conclusion. Use this opportunity to clarify an issue or idea that is important to you.

What books do students need to get?
Two books are required for those taking this course for credit:

  1. Digital Community, Digital Citizen, by Jason Ohler. 
  2. Digital Citizenship in Schools, by Mike Ribble.

All other materials can be found on the web. These will be identified as you move through the course.


A history of innovation at UAS’s School of Education

The idea of the MOOC came about because the MEd Tech program at the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) has a long history of innovating within its means. It was one of the earliest ed tech programs created in direct response to desktop computing in the classroom in the early 1980s that addressed teacher and student empowerment, vs. programming and product development. Before the Internet was publicly available, the program had over 1000 online students during the days of USENET and BITNET.

It was also one of the first MEd Tech degrees to go online, and one of the first to offer an Ed Tech teaching credential that could be added to a standard teaching certificate. My dissertation was a Case Study of Online Community, one of the early efforts of its kind. The study was based on the online programs we had been developing well in advance of the Internet.

In addition, the School of Education has been experimenting with MOOCs in a number of courses over the past few years. Conversations about offering this course as a MOOC between School Dean Dr. Deborah Lo, Program Director Lee Graham and myself flowed quite naturally out of this history of innovation.

Three “circles” of the course

The area of digital citizenship is vast. There are some foundational topics I want to address in this course, but beyond these it makes sense to tap into the great narrative that is unfolding about this critical area of inquiry. This is a time of great inquiry, experimentation and collaboration about all the issues that digital citizenship embraces. We want to know what you are discovering so that we can better inform and structure this course.


Citations, credits

World, in header [Photoshop created image]. (2011). Created by Larry Addington for Corwin Press. It is a modified version of the cover of my book Digital Community, Digital Citizen. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Mother, daughter at computer. Retrieved 12/1/2013 from Clipart.com. Used through a paid subscription.