Be true to yourself and be true to others: building a healthy digital community.

Life is about finding out who you are and realizing your true purpose. We all go through the pain of growing up and the fear of facing the real world. As adolescents, we spend our time and energy figuring out how we fit in. Making decisions on what we wear, what we listen to, and whom we choose to be friends with is about how we want this world to see us. In the digital era, this self-portrayer or self-presentation has become a more vital part of life. It is fast-paced, and you get instant likes or dislikes. Therefore, this instinct to ‘fit in’ to this mainstream of trends has become more desirable, shaping how we view ourselves. We are literally connected to this digital world. How you choose to present yourself is no longer an issue for oneself but an issue for us all as a community.

As soon as we connect online, we become active participants and share a sense of community online. A “sense of community is a feeling that members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and to the group, and a shared faith that members’ needs will be met through commitment to be together” (McMillan & Chavis, 1986). Basically, a community is built on this mutual understanding of trust that we will take care of the well-being of the members and each other. There is an underlying agreement, as Floridi describes “the rights and responsibilities of the parties subscribing to the agreement are the terms of the social contract, whereas the society, state, group, etc. is the entity created for the purpose of enforcing the agreement (Floridi, 2010)” Setting standards, from self-preservation to characteristic of the community which members share and represent the same values. Along with ISTE standards for students and educators to “…improve their communities, …foster a culture of respectful online interactions…, and curate the digital profile they intend to reflect” (ISTE Standards for Coaches 7).

Education is more than just transmitting knowledge and skills but teaching students how to interact and engage in the world and learning character traits to become responsible members of society. It is more than just learning rules and regulations but also role modeling moral and ethical values we teach so that students choose to do the right things over what is popular. Wikipedia defines ‘honesty’ as “a facet of moral character that connotes positive and virtuous attributes such as integrity, truthfulness, straightforwardness, including straightforwardness of conduct, along with the absence of lying, cheating, theft, etc.” Honesty takes courage; however, honesty without respect and a sense of community serves no purpose. “Students need to put a ‘face’ to their postings, and realize that they are interacting with real people, not just inanimate laptops or smart phones” (Riddle & Miller, 2013). Being true to yourself and being true to others for the well-being of yourself and others makes you a responsible member of the community.

The problem with ‘honesty’ arises because we “internally presume that what is presented is true” (Harris & Bardey, 2019). In the study, only 18 percent of men and 19 percent of women reported that their Facebook page displayed “a completely accurate reflection” of who they are. Most commonly, participants said that they only shared “non-boring” aspects of their lives (32 percent) and were not as “active” as their social media accounts appeared (14 percent). Instagram users present themselves in an appealing way. “As a result, users may engage in a variety of virtually deceptive behaviors to counteract enhanced social insecurities. This appeals to young people between the ages of 18 and 29 specifically, who represent over one-third of Instagram users” (Harris & Bardey, 2019). Also, recent studies by Counts and Stecher (2009) attempted to compare this ideal online self-presentation with the actual personality. The result indicated that people hope to show personality traits through their online profiles and that users are able to create profiles they feel match their desired self-presentation.

Furthermore, “analyzing data of 10,560 Facebook users, we find that individuals who are more authentic in their self-expression also report greater Life Satisfaction. This effect appears consistent across different personality profiles, countering the proposition that individuals with socially desirable personalities benefit from authentic self-expression more than others” (Bailey, Matz & Youyou, 2020).

According to psychologists, “social interaction and feeling a sense of belonging to a community are two of the most important predictors of psychological and physical health” (McMillan & Chavis, 1986). More and more students will spend time online and make friends online. Probably their sense of belonging in an online community is much greater. So, we must create a safe, healthy online ‘ecosystem’ promoting authentic interactions online (Floridi, 2010). Building a healthy community requires all members to be healthy. Our efforts to encourage students to interact and reflect themselves honestly online will empower them and, in turn, will build strong, healthy digital communities.


Harris, E & Bardey, A. (2019, Apr. 24). Do Instagram profiles accurately portray personality? An investigation into idealized online self-presentation. Frontiers in Psychology. 10:871. to an external site.

Luciano Floridi, Chapter 1 (“The Information Revolution”) and Chapter 8 (“The Ethics of Information”), in Information—A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 3-18 and 103-18

McMillan, D. W., & Chavis, D. M. (1986). Sense of community: A definition and theory. Journal of Community Psychology, 14(1), 6–23.

Mike Ribble and Teresa Northern Miller, “Educational Leadership in an Online World: Connecting Students to Technology Responsibly, Safely, and Ethically,” Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17:1 (2013): 137-45

Warren, C. (2018, July 30). How honest are people on social media? Psychology Today.


What it takes to be a responsible Digital Citizen

What would it take to raise a child to be a responsible digital citizen? We get wisdom from African proverbs, saying, ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’ It’s true. The responsibilities are for us all. Whether you are government authorities, educators, parents, or companies benefiting from students, we all share the responsibilities, and our choices impact a child’s well-being. The same rules apply in the digital world. Just as children learn their rights and responsibilities in the real world, they must also learn how to behave online.

The author M. Riddle in his book Digital Citizenship in Schools, wrote about the crucial digital elements: accessibility, commerce, communication, literacy, and etiquette. He emphasized the need to bridge the gap between educators and students and how educators must be digitally literate to help students with digital citizenship. According to research by Common Sense Media, approximately six out of ten K-12 teachers used a digital citizenship curriculum, and seven out of ten taught digital competency skills utilizing digital citizenship. Even with a higher utilization percentage, over 35% of students were determined that they did not have the proper skills to evaluate information online critically. The statistics showed a parallel increase as grades went up. Another result from the same study showed that approximately 60% of the K-12 teachers used online videos found on YouTube and Netflix in classrooms, and around half of the teachers used educational tools like Microsoft Office and Google G Suite in the classroom (Educator Innovator, 2021). These big-name companies profit from schools and students and should be taken more accountable for their actions. They need to be in compliance and be more transparent in their disclosures of how they are using students’ data, making efforts to protect students’ privacy.

International OECD guidelines state that “personal data should be relevant to the purposes for which they are to be used, and to the extent necessary for those purposes should be accurate, complete, and kept up to date.” Under Article 8, personal information revealing race, ethnicity, religion, political stance, health, and gender cannot be published online, enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). For example, the FTC once sued Microsoft for failing to protect customers’ personal information properly. Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) also prohibits the improper disclosure of personally identifiable information in education records. As responsible Digital Citizens, students should know their rights and “make informed decisions to protect their personal data” (ISTE Standards 7d).

After going through many resources on digital citizenship, I found The National Education Technology Standards (NETS) to be precisely applicable and reliable. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) updated NETS in 2009 for educational leaders, teachers, and students, and it integrated educational technology standards across all academic curriculum. The following nine crucial components, grouped into three broad categories, guide us to be responsible digital citizens (Ribble & Miller, 2013, p139).

Respect Yourself/Respect Others

  • Digital Etiquette: electronic standards of conduct or procedure.
  • Digital Access: full electronic participation in society.
  • Digital Law: electronic responsibility for actions and deeds

Educate Yourself/Educate Others

  • Digital Communication: electronic exchange of information.  
  • Digital Literacy: the process of teaching and learning about technology and the use of technology.
  • Digital Commerce: electronic buying and selling of goods.

Protect Yourself/Protect Others

  • Digital Rights and Responsibility: those freedoms extended to everyone in a digital world.
  • Digital Security: electronic precautions to guarantee safety.
  • Digital Health and Welfare: physical and psychological well-being in a digital technology world.

Our goal as educators is to help students understand the impact of their words and actions and learn to be respectful and have empathy towards others to “improve their communities and foster a culture of respectful online interactions” (ISTE Standards 7a,7b). It takes more than just individuals being responsible but collaborative efforts from all parts of our communities. We want to see technology improve the lives and well-being of students. Furthermore, we want to see digital leadership in educators, students, and our communities to promote digital citizenship actively, be proactive in prevention, and make positive changes in the digital world.


Educator Innovator. (May 06,2021). Deepening the ways we Engage youth as (Digital) Citizens.

Mike Ribble and Teresa Northern Miller, “Educational Leadership in an Online World: Connecting Students to Technology Responsibly, Safely, and Ethically,” Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17:1 (2013): 137-45

National Educational Technology Standards for Administrators, Teachers, Students. ISTE, (Portland, OR, 2009).

Ribble, M. (2010). Digital Citizenship in Schools. ISTE.


Quality learning in progress

Researching the quality assurance process for digital education, I realized there are no general standards that apply to all—instead, it’s a work in progress. I started with a question, ‘Can we trust the sources of online teaching materials?’ I immediately became curious about who and how we do quality checks for digital learning.

First, I had to ask myself what quality education is. Some might argue the students’ experience, test results, or completion of courses. Moreover, some may believe that evaluated progress, continuing education, or even furthermore rate of admission to colleges may determine the quality of education. It all depends on our goal. What is our objective? What are we trying to achieve through promoting quality digital education? We want students to learn to their fullest potential with the most updated information and technology.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, kids ages 8-18 now spend, on average, 7.5 hours in front of a screen each day, 4.5 of which are spent watching TV. Over a year, that adds up to 114 full days watching a screen (CDC-Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018). On top of that, statistics on Teen Social Media Addiction show that 24% of teens are online ‘Almost Constantly’ 76% of teens engage in social media – 71% are on Facebook, 52% on Instagram, 41% on Snapchat, 33% use Twitter and 14% are on Tumbler. 77% of parents say their teens are distracted by devices when they are together (Common Sense Media report, 2022).

In reality, students are constantly exposed to technology and social media. We must teach students in the way that is most familiar to them. The digital learning format through the web, interactive textbooks, online classes, media, apps, games, e-books…etc. So, who decides on teaching materials, including technology, in schools? For example, Washington state allows the school districts and local authorities to choose. Therefore, educators play a significant role in deciding which digital materials to use. They must be informed and have the tools to assess the teaching materials properly. Educators should actively evaluate and question (Coiro, J. 2017):

*Who created the information at this site, and what is this person’s level of expertise?
*When was the information at this site updated?
*Where can I go to check the accuracy of this information?
*Why did this person or group put this information on the internet?
*Does the website present only one side of the issue, or are multiple perspectives provided?

Naturally, my next question was, ‘Is there proper legislation or compliance in place? If the standards are ignored, can we hold educators accountable for their actions?’ There are mandated requirements for accessibility, including those of legislative accessibility standards and generally accepted guidelines, such as the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative. We need to see more implementation of laws to set global standards. In the digital world, we are truly universal and share the same issues and needs regarding digital learning. Efforts have been made through pilot research programs like EQUIP (Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships) by the Office of Educational Technology. The goals of the experiment were to: (1) test new ways of allowing Americans from all backgrounds to access innovative learning and training opportunities that lead to good jobs but that fall outside the current financial aid system; and (2) strengthen approaches for outcomes-based quality assurance processes that focus on student learning and other outcomes. The experiment aimed to promote and measure college access, affordability, and student outcomes. Partnership and combined efforts like this make changes and possible reforms to address the issue.

While writing this blog, I realized the importance of building a professional community with the same values and concerns in digital education. They become crucial resources with hands-on experience. I have learned that being informed – getting the latest information, feedback, critical thinking and a proactive approach are key factors in making progress toward quality digital education.


Coiro, J. (2017, August, 29). Teaching Adolescents How to Evaluate the Quality of Online Information. EDUTOPIA.

Shepherd’s Hill Academy. (n.d.). Teens and the Effects of Social Media Addiction.

Anstey, L. & Watson, G. (2018, September, 10). A Rubric for Evaluating E-Learning Tools in Higher Education. EDUCAUSE.

Cellini, S. R. (2021, August 13). How does virtual learning impact students in higher education? Brown Center Chalkboard.

Infographics. Screen Time vs. Lean Time. CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018)

Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships (EQUIP) – Office of Educational Technology

Common Sense Media. How we rate and review. Retrieved September 23, 2022, from