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Know the ISTE Standards for Coaches: Digital Citizenship

By Helen Crompton
September 2, 2015
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ISTE Standards for Coaches 5: Digital citizenship

You may have heard this one before: Technology is only a tool, and it’s what we do with that tool that counts. In schools, technology is used to present miraculous opportunities, but it can also be used to do harm. For example, this year alone, there are multiple reports in the media of young students accessing pornography in class on school devices. Technology coaches are responsible for helping students and teachers become good digital citizens, which they can accomplish by modeling good habits and providing information and strategies.


To model effectively, the technology coach must first have a solid understanding of digital citizenship, which they can get by attending conferences and keeping current via their professional learning networks. They must also always model proper digital behavior. For example, every presentation the technology coach creates should correctly cite all images. This takes practice and time, but it gets easier as it becomes a habit, like putting a seat belt on in a car.

The technology coach also gives teachers information and strategies about digital citizenship so they can model good practices for their students.

Providing information and strategies

Technology coaches often come across teachers who are negative about the use of technology in schools, usually due to fears that the students will fail to use the technologies effectively and safely. But these concerns, like most fears, stem from a lack of knowledge. It’s the technology coach’s job to give teachers the information they need to ameliorate those fears.

Although conveying knowledge may seem like an easy task, teachers are often busy and unable to focus on things fully until they need it. Keeping this in mind, tech coaches do well to provide just-in-time knowledge to teachers as they need it. For example, knowing that a teacher is about to teach about different cultures of the world, the tech coach could introduce information about:

  • Ways students can be connected to other cultures using secure websites, such as ePals.
  • Digital citizenship issues to think about as students connect with other cultures.
  • What personal information to share when using websites that are not made for schools.

If the tech coach shares this information just before the class, it will be fresh in the teacher’s memory, allowing him or her to more effectively model and share it with the students. And over time these ideas and strategies become habits.

The three strategies listed in the table below represent different ways a coach could deliver and model digital citizenship information for various stakeholders, including teachers, administrators, students, parents and the wider community.

ISTE Standards-C 5: Digital Citizenship. Technology coaches model and promote digital citizenship.

Approach 1.
This technology coach feels certain the teachers know about good digital citizenship, so he or she sends a paper flyer around asking them to contact the tech coach if they need information about digital citizenship.

Approach 2.
This tech coach creates a website about digital citizenship that organizes information in areas for students, teachers and parents. The technology coach has not modeled good digital citizenship in the development of the website.

Approach 3.
This tech coach creates a website about digital citizenship that organizes information in areas for students, teachers and parents. The site includes information and strategies for those stakeholders as well as various scenarios describing how to accomplish different digital tasks safely. He or she models good digital citizenship practices throughout the website and promotes the site by placing flyers around the school as well as sending messages to parents. The site also includes a forum for parents, teachers and students to ask questions and discuss issues about digital citizenship.

a. Model and promote strategies for achieving equitable access to digital tools and resources and technology-related best practices for all students and teachers.

Not addressed: There is no evidence of this indicator.

Partially addressed: Strategies presented on the digital citizenship website promote equitable access and best practices, but these are not modeled by the tech coach.

Addressed: Strategies presented on the digital citizenship website model and promote equitable access and best practices.

b. Model and facilitate safe, healthy, legal and ethical uses of digital information and technologies.

Not addressed: There is no evidence of this indicator.

Partially addressed: The website includes strategies and information, but the tech coach has not modeled these.

Addressed: The website includes strategies and information, which the tech coach also models.

c. Model and promote diversity, cultural understanding and global awareness by using digital age communication and collaboration tools to interact locally and globally with students, peers, parents and the larger community.

Not addressed: There is no evidence of this indicator.

Partially addressed: The website models and shares information to students, peers, parents and the larger community.

Addressed: The website models and shares information to students, peers, parents and the larger community, and it includes a forum for collaboration and communication. Additionally, the coach promotes the website to ensure interested parties know about it.


The tech coach in Approach 1 has not met any of the standard’s indicators. Teachers already understand that the tech coach is there to help with technology questions. It is the coach’s job to directly share digital citizenship information with the teachers, and this doesn’t happen. Because the offer of help is on a printed flyer, the coach also misses the opportunity to model appropriate interaction via the internet.

In Approach 2, this technology coach has met some of the indicators. He or she has provided information about digital citizenship. The website was a good start, but the coach needs to interact directly with students, teachers and parents to demonstrate good digital citizenship. Modeling is missing in this approach.

In Approach 3, the tech coach has met all the indicators in the standard. To support teachers in providing equitable access and best practices, the digital citizenship website provides information and strategies, such as links to posts on ISTE’s EdTekHub that offer lesson ideas teachers can use to connect their students with classrooms in other countries using safe programs. This tech coach also models good digital citizenship throughout the website.

To prevent the fear mentality that can stop teachers from using technology altogether, coaches need to ensure that everyone in the school knows about and follows good digital practices. And if the coach can help teachers and students make digital citizenship a habit, the students will stay safe in school and beyond.

If you're ready to learn more about becoming a tech coach or digital citizenship, sign up for one of our self-paced online courses!


Chris Ceglar, John Wlajnitz and John Asija assisted with this article. Ceglar is studying for his teaching license, Wlajnitz is pursuing a B.A. in education, and Asija is working on a B.S. in modeling and simulation engineering at Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia.

Helen Crompton is an assistant professor of instructional technology at Old Dominion University in Virginia. She is a researcher and educator in the field of instructional technology, and she earned her Ph.D. in educational technology and mathematics education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.