• University of York

Becoming a Digital Citizen: an Introduction to the Digital Society

Become a more informed digital citizen and engage with debate about what is appropriate in the modern world of social media

8,239 enrolled on this course

Bright lights symbolising the digital society
  • Duration

    3 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

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.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 12 seconds When was the last time you spent the day without making use of digital technology? Is it even possible to do that in the modern world? Over the last three decades the world has been transformed by a series of profound technological changes. Digital technology is now ubiquitous

Skip to 0 minutes and 26 seconds within our modern society: it’s used for work, education, entertainment; social, economic and political activities. Access to the internet and digital communications has given the everyday citizen the opportunity to publish their opinions openly and widely to a global audience. This has led to the internet being described as the ‘great democratiser’, providing us with open access to a world of information. However, there are still huge inequalities in the access to communication, both on an international and intranational

Skip to 0 minutes and 58 seconds level: 60% of the world’s population is still offline. Over the past couple of decades we have grappled with terms such as the digital native, millennials, digital residents and visitors to describe and decipher what it means to connect - every day - with this new technology; to work out what it is to be digitally literate. Is digital literacy simply a question of technical proficiency? Or does it also require an ability to engage with that technology in a socially responsible way? We have seen how the internet has become a tremendously powerful medium, providing access to information and facilitating engagement in social and political debate. We’ve also seen the risks that have

Skip to 1 minute and 38 seconds come with sharing information and engaging online: we’ve witnessed the huge cost - both economically and personally - of internet security breaches; and we’re now faced with the sobering statistic that up to half the online population has been the victim of cyberbullying or abuse. How then do we move forward to ensuring safe and responsible use of these technologies? How can we develop and harness our understanding of the powers and the risks of the internet, as we use it to engage in our social, economic and political endeavours? In short, how do we become a digital citizen?

What topics will you cover?

  • Exploring Digital Access
  • Understanding Digital Identity & Security
  • Investigating Digital Participation & Ethics

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explore personal values and make ethical judgments when participating online
  • Develop the skills needed be an effective and successful digital citizen
  • Apply knowledge of new technologies to solve problems in the real world

Who is the course for?

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.

Who will you learn with?

I’m Head of Research and Learning Information Services at the University of Aberdeen. I'm interested in developing citizens' critical digital literacies, digital society and enabling digital equality.

I'm a Teaching and Learning Advisor at the University of York, specialising in digital skills development. I support staff and students at organisational, departmental, programme and individual level.

Ey up!

I'm a Teaching & Learning Advisor (sort of like an IT-minded Librarian), dancing with the ducks at the University of York.

Director of Information Services at the University of York, and member of the University's Executive Board. Responsible for strategy development, and delivery, across IT, Library and Archive services

Who developed the course?

University of York

The University of York combines the pursuit of academic excellence with a culture of inclusion, which encourages everyone – from a variety of backgrounds – to achieve their best.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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