Digital citizenship is a concept that has emerged in policy discourse and academic literature to denote the norms of appropriate, responsible behaviour with regard to technology use (Ribble et al., 2004). This complex term draws together a range of closely related synonyms or concepts including “Global Citizenship” (Parker & Frailon, 2016; UNESCO, 2015), “Global Competence” (OECD, 2016b), “Digital Competence” (Ferrari, 2013; Vuorikari, Punie, Carretero Gomez & Van den Brande, 2016), “Digital Literacy” (Canada’s Centre for Digital and Media Literacy, 2016) and “Media and Information Literacy” (Frau-Meigs & Hibbard, 2016; UNESCO, 2013).

For the purposes of this project, the definition of digital citizenship incorporates the three key elements of digital engagement, digital responsibility and digital participation brought about through the critical analysis and the competent use of digital technology underpinned by a concept of citizenship founded on respect for human rights and democratic culture. Accordingly, the following has been adopted as a working definition to guide the project:

 Digital Citizenship may be said to refer to the competent and positive engagement with digital technologies and data (creating, publishing, working, sharing, socializing, investigating, playing, communicating and learning); participating actively and responsibly (values, skills, attitudes, knowledge and critical understanding) in communities (local, national, global) at all levels (political, economic, social, cultural and intercultural); being involved in a double process of lifelong learning (in formal, informal, non-formal settings) and continuously defending human dignity and all attendant human rights.  

Figure 1 present a conceptual model of digital citizenship education, summarising its foundations, pillars and scope

Figure 1: Conceptual model of digital citizenship

The base of the model, as illustrated in the Figure 2 here-below, is built on the 20 Competences for Democratic Culture that are together frequently referred to as the CDC “butterfly”. The 20 competences are cover four key areas: Values, Attitudes, Skills and Knowledge and critical understanding. These areas were integrated into the analysis of projects documented in the Good Practice Consultation, more specifically to evaluate the aims of the projects that were investigated.

Figure 2: The CDC “butterfly”

10 digital domains

These are applied in ten key digital domains, derived from a review of the literature,   which act as the cross-frame for the model of digital citizenship model.


Finally, a review of practice in the field of digital citizenship identifies five essential factors or pillars that shape or determine outcomes, regardless of the context in which projects have been conducted.

These pillars therefore support a development model of digital citizenship and highlight elements of sense making practices framed by enabling policy and successful monitoring and evaluation (M & E) methodology. Between these “framing” pillars, the actors – from teachers and learners to content and policy makers – and the resources and infrastructure available, will play a major role in the level of success achieved. However, efficient strategies are at the core of implementing sensible practices that will permit learners of all ages to develop their full potential as active citizens in the democracies of today and tomorrow.