Digital citizenship blends concepts like critical thinking, societal and cultural values and norms, laws and rules, and individual rights and freedoms. It reflects a shared need to develop skills and perspectives for safe, ethical, responsible, innovative, and involved conduct online. Indeed, the need for civic learning is increasingly recognized within the higher education community.
Researchers used a single case study to build understanding of digital citizenship in the Community Engagement Learning Exchange (CELE), a multi-author blogging experiment that engaged public officials and citizens with varying experiences and backgrounds in a shared discourse on civic engagement. They interviewed a sample of bloggers to map out practices that could transfer to other shared writing environments and social media platforms, then conducted a content analysis of blog posts to see which prompts led to further discourse and reflection, and which reached a wider audience.
A qualitative analysis of CELE was conducted on 100 posts connected to 22 bloggers over approximately two years. Researchers coded for number of comments and unique page views. They distinguished content by type: expertise (information on a topic), activity (things that occupied the bloggers in their professional contexts), and identification (personal experiences). They also measured verbosity (how content development relates to reflectiveness and discourse) and assessed it against three categories: amount of factual information provided, level of personalization, and level of interaction.
Analyzing CELE as an example of a community that cultivates a civil discourse about civic engagement enabled researchers to gain an intrinsic understanding of the blogger community and of a specific style of discourse that at least some community members experienced as unique to their environment. Overall, the case study offered initial guidance for blogging on civic discourse in an informal learning space. In particular, digital literacy and digital citizenship emerged as lifelong commitments, not one-time achievements, while civic competency and civic engagement emerged as two key domains within civic learning. Having ground rules, focusing on learning and information sharing, and not putting people down were qualities that the bloggers associated with their CELE blog experience.Wikimedia Commons.