Embedding Digital Citizenship in Higher Education Institutes

Colin Cooney, Katherina Nugent, Kevin Gerard Howard

Abstract


This paper presents an account of the genesis, rationale and implementation of an initiative to promote responsible Digital Citizenship in Higher Education settings. The genesis was concern about the negative impacts of inappropriate online activity within the DkIT community. The norms of virtual interaction appeared to be different to those which shape our face to face, physical interactions. Therefore, our rationale was to create a dialogue within our HE setting that sought to challenge this false division. The initiative's theoretical underpinning synthesised literature from Community Development, Republican Citizenship and the Social Psychology of online communications. We implemented a two strand response: firstly an awareness raising, train-the-trainer model of peer-led workshops, which is now embedded as part of the first year students’ formal induction.  Secondly, a proposed mediation process based on Restorative Justice principles to allow those harmed by the Social Media actions of others to be heard and their concerns addressed.  The evaluation of our initiative indicates the emergence of cultural change within our institution in relation to online behaviour.  Furthermore this knowledge and experience will contribute to and inform discussions about how best to shape the norms of online interaction within and across our  HE communities.

Keywords


Digital Citizenship, Restorative Justice, Social Media

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