Civil Society Organisations and Youth leaders
The success of the initiative led by the Academy of Central European Schools (ACES) illustrates the initiative of a training structure set up by a foundation linked to a major Austrian bank aiming to provide concrete opportunities for mobility and exchanges between fifteen countries. ACES is a competition platform that provides guidelines for project building on a new citizenship theme each year, offers a toolbox for teachers and showcases winning projects. The impact of ACES is directly measured by the schools involved, because projects are integrated into the school programme upon which pupils are assessed. The initiative is also supported by the ministries of education in all participating countries, associated with the European Union, and promotes the Council of Europe Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education.
The role of mixed local communities conducted by youth leaders is paramount in the development and the implementation of digital citizenship education’s programmes. The internet has enabled the mass formation and reach of similar local educating communities. Driven by educational purpose that does not provide citizens only with knowledge, but that educates them to the values of democratic culture, critical thinking and ethical behavior. It is important to note that none of the actors mentioned before have to work separately but are asked to co-operate with one another, to build a strong collaboration network with other actors of their contexts and communities.
Gardner underlines the ethical and educational dimension of communities as the main priorities: “I believe that the role of a citizen calls equally for an ethical orientation— a conviction that one’s community should possess certain characteristics of which one is proud and a commitment personally to work toward the realization of the virtuous community.” (Gardner 2007).
Implication for Policy or Practice
Encourage students to practice their reasoning skills in many settings, from their other classes to their practicum sites to gain practice and confidence in applying their thinking skills. Use these opportunities for community building with civil sector as a motivating participant.
Finally, there is also a growing emergence of so called “civic tech” to be taken into account. They are developed by a great number of stakeholders, from engaged tech-savvy citizens, local municipalities, to civil society, and they intend to use technology to address various aspects of digital citizenship.