ALIA Schools National Online Forum – Digital Citizenship – Day 2



In the Australian Curriculum, students develop ethical understanding as they identify and investigate the nature of ethical concepts, values and character traits, and understand how reasoning can assist ethical judgment. Ethical understanding involves students in building a strong personal and socially oriented ethical outlook that helps them to manage context, conflict and uncertainty, and to develop an awareness of the influence that their values and behaviour have on others.


ACARA has developed a series of general capabilities as part of the Australian Curriculum, one of which is concerned with ethical understanding. Your task today is learn what the ethical understanding capability involves and to comment on how it might be possible to address it in a school library context.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section of this post. We look forward to reading your ideas and thoughts.


9 thoughts on “ALIA Schools National Online Forum – Digital Citizenship – Day 2

  1. We are a knowledge society in the 21st Century. As teacher librarians and librarians in schools, we can assist students to continuously develop their Information and Communication Technology skills. This can enable students to maintain their digital literacy levels. Further and just as critical, as teacher librarians and librarians in schools, we can facilitate students with the process of knowing how to use information in a respectful way. During our Information Skills classes, we can foster in our students, a sense of acting with high moral principles when using technology – such as when students are:
    -creating new knowledge using various forms of technology;
    -being innovative with technology;
    -editing websites;
    -problem solving / coming up with solutions (when presented with certain information) and then publishing their solutions in a digital format;
    -using graphics and mapping software and publishing their discoveries / results on the internet;
    -exploring photo management software and publishing their photos on the internet.
    Overall, as teacher librarians and librarians in schools, we can promote to students, the value of acting in a socially responsible manner as they become creative users of information and simultaneously further their ICT skills, as per “The Melbourne Declaration on Educational goals for Young Australians” (2008) . When constructing the Australian Curriculum, ACARA implemented goals from this document. This was done to encourage students to work towards constantly evolving their technology skills. This will assist the students to become productive and ethical individuals in our global context, during their time at school and later in the workforce.
    As teacher librarians and librarians in schools, we are in a privileged position – we can help students to become digital citizens who are ethically competent. Possessing this trait can enhance the ability of students to flourish in their digital activities during their years of being life-long learners.

  2. Yes teacher librarians have a big responsibility. I am very interested in this online forum. I think that a big challenge for older librarians could be keeping ahead of what the students are doing. Most of the students now have probably replaced the silver spoon with an electronic device since they were born. The ethical principles from traditional areas now have to be applied in the digital environment.

    • Charlotte as an older teacher librarian I can say that a lot of my practice has changed over the years. I have kept up with digital technologies. At times I have found it difficult to understand but as a professional I feel that it is my responsibility to stay current. I would be doing my students a disservice if I did not understand the devices and technologies they are using

  3. As a TL in the Catholic school system I find that students are well aware of ethical issues and the processes of reflecting and interrogating the values mentioned in the capability. Not only are they in the RE curriculum, they are often the core values of the schools the students attend.
    As a TL I have endeavoured to promote the ethical use of words and pictures during my work with classes. My presentations always show the correct acknowledgement and ownership of copyrighted information. I have written articles for staff publications and sent around interesting digital links in the effort to encourage teacher understanding of the need to appropriately acknowledge ALL information retrieved from the web.
    Teachers are big on saying no plagiarism but often let students get away with it because of the heavy load of marking and assessment involved in their subjects, or they just don’t want to follow it up.
    Adding the ethical use of information into assignment rubrics with a numerical value is a great way of ensuring that students develop an understanding of ethical behaviour as far as information is concerned.
    Safe and ethical online behaviour is acknowledged across the year levels through pastoral care programs as well as embedded in the curriculum.
    I like to have conversations wit students when they are in the library using their phones or ipads. I often remind them of their responsibilities when taking photos and texting.
    I agree with Kate, we are in a privileged position in schools.

    • Indeed Jill, we are to model the correct behaviour as responsible digital citizens ourselves, if we are to expect this from students.

      Ethical digital behaviour is vital across the curriculum and at every opportunity the teachers, along with the TL, should be making students aware of their individual responsibility. To this end the students could be encouraged to each complete a ‘digital citizenship agreement’ (from at the start of each year, which can perhaps be displayed in their home-room, and which the librarian can constantly refer to during IL lessons.

    • Thank you, Jill.

      You are an accountable teacher librarian, acting ethically in many ways.

      Some of your practices that could inspire others who work in libraries include:

      -modelling correct ownership of copyrighted information when presenting information to members of the school community

      -occasionally e-mailing short, concise guidelines (‘friendly reminders’) to teachers to share with students about how to correctly acknowledge ownership of copyrighted material (and ensuring that not more than 10% of the author’s work has been used by students in their assignments)

      -encouraging all teachers to use the criterion of “Ethical use of information” in assignment rubrics with a numerical value

      Thanks for your ideas, Jill.


  4. I read through the ethical understanding areas, and found a couple of statements that really resonate with my practice as a teacher librarian:
    * firstly the key idea “Exploring values, rights and responsibilities: This element involves students identifying and examining values and exploring rights and responsibilities of individuals and groups in a range of contexts and practices.”
    * secondly the statement in the learning areas section: “Students consider their own roles and responsibilities as discerning citizens, and learn to detect bias and inaccuracies. Understanding the protection of data, intellectual property and individual privacy in the school environment helps students to be ethical digital citizens.”
    Just last term I had the most fascinating – and heated!- discussion in my Y3 class regarding ownership and use of images found online via Google; one of my students was absolutely adamant that anyone putting pictures online was therefore making them available to anyone who cared to use them without any requirement for the end user to acknowledge the creator in any way. This highlighted for me the absolute necessity for students to explore the ethics of using online resources in a systematic, guided way, otherwise their natural inclination is to approach the internet as an all-you-can-access buffet!

  5. Some great discussion here and I agree strongly. Thanks Kate for such comprehensive insights.
    As one who has been a TL for many years it has always been a battle to get both teachers and students to practice ethical values, even when they know what is ‘right’. However, with the ACARA standards being so explicit, this is gradually changing.
    The thing that has had the greatest impact on our school is having to complete a copyright survey for a term. Although it was hell on wheels in some ways, it was a perfect opportunity to really make teachers alter their practices and to think about what they are doing and expecting their students to do. Frankly, they have always known and are constantly reminded, but until they had to be specifically and individually accountable they often chose to let it ‘slip through’. It seems that many of the better habits learned during the survey have stayed with them.

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