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Becoming a Digital Citizen: an Introduction to the Digital Society

University of York via FutureLearn

This course may be unavailable.



The ‘digital citizen’ is a person who has developed the skills and knowledge to effectively use the internet and digital technologies, who uses digital technologies and the internet in a responsible and appropriate way in order to engage and participate in society and politics.

We live in a world where the use of digital technology has become the norm. Effective participation in our society increasingly requires our ability to engage online. This isn’t just a question of technical ability – just as with our physical society, there are appropriate and responsible behaviours we need to acquire.

In this course, we’ll investigate and explore the concept of the digital society. We’ll look at how personal values and ethical judgments shape our online participation, and how new technologies can be applied to solve some of the problems we might face. Through all of this, we will develop your digital capabilities, and your awareness of the cultural and ethical implications of using digital technologies, and we’ll seek to establish the skills required to become an effective and successful digital citizen.

Week 1: Digital access

We will start by exploring the digital divide, considering barriers to accessing modern information and communications technologies. Learners will reflect on their approaches to finding information using digital technologies and how this would differ if they had restricted access. We will also question how limited access to digital technologies affects participation in society and how information seeking behaviours differ online.

Week 2: Digital identity and security

This week we will build on how we can make effective use of digital technologies to engage with others and share our views, looking at developing an online identity and the various platforms and tools available to us. We will hear from researchers at the University of York on their experiences of using social media and start to look at how digital technologies enable us to engage beyond the academic audience. We will also consider the risks of sharing personal information online and bigger issues of information security.

Week 3: Digital participation and ethics

Finally, we will look at the use of social media for political discussion and shaping public agendas. We will look at how digital tools can encourage engagement from harder-to-reach groups or non-traditional audiences, exploring both the success stories and the darker forces using this medium for illegal activities. We will also consider netiquette and the importance of open-mindedness and respect, issues of cyberbullying, and our social responsibilities in combating abuse and creating a positive online experience.

The notion of digital citizenship is ubiquitous, and this course therefore aims to be useful to a wide variety of online learners. This course is suitable for anyone who engages with social media platforms, those who use technologies to support their study, as well as graduates looking to maximise the impact of their digital footprint and avoid common mistakes which may make them unattractive to potential employers.

Taught by

Susan Halfpenny, Alison Kaye, Stephanie Jesper and Heidi Fraser-Krauss


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