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Teaching for Digital Citizenship: Digital ethics in the classroom and beyond

This project responds to the challenges and opportunities young people face in a fast-paced digitally connected world. We are interested in the ways that digital citizenship is enacted in secondary schools across the UK – whether in Computer Science, Citizenship, PSHE, Business Studies, Modern Studies – as well as in the day-to-day life of schools, in everything from setting homework through virtual learning environments, to biometric data to store students’ lunch money.

Working with the Urban Big Data Centre and the Centre for Technomoral Futures we will seek to engage philosophers of digital ethics, software development corporations serving the education sector, schools and policy-makers in the four nations of the UK in discussions about how to furnish young people with a sense of agency and an understanding of data justice. A data justice approach recognises that data systems are not value-neutral, and that ethical dilemmas need to be understood in relation to social and political factors, not only in the design of technical solutions.

We are looking to form long-lasting partnerships with schools and young people in the four nations of the UK, spending time observing good practice in digital citizenship education, having inclusive discussions with teachers and young people, listening to their needs and suggestions in order to design new curriculum materials, and evaluating the impact of the new curriculum on young people’s day-to-day lived experiences online.

Press Release - December 2022

“Teaching for Digital Justice, Fairness and Inclusion”

An ambitious new research project led by the University of Glasgow aims to work with schools and software developers to help young people engage with the many moral and social challenges of life in a digitally connected world. UK Research and Innovation identified digital citizenship as a priority for their recent Education funding call, and a team led by Dr David Lundie, Senior Lecturer in Education at the University of Glasgow, working together with colleagues in Glasgow’s School of Education and Urban Big Data Centre has been awarded a large grant to carry out curriculum mapping and development work across the four nations of the UK. The Centre for Technological Futures at the University of Edinburgh will also partner in the project. The University of Glasgow will be funding a postgraduate research studentship to support the project.

Principal investigator, Dr David Lundie, speaking about the project, told us “Young people face myriad challenges and uncertainties in a fast-paced and changing digital world – from cyber-bullying to online radicalisation; from the day-to-day harvesting and commercialisation of their personal data to surveillance of their movements and appetites; and teachers sometimes struggle to keep up. Moreover, in 2020 we saw up close the chaos that emerged from the well-meaning but misguided attempt to use an algorithm to allocate A-Level and Higher grades to students; indeed, how unexpected results can follow from naively automating the way in which we measure educational achievement. In this project, we will engage with the best practices that already exist in schools, whether that’s in Citizenship, PSHE or Computer Science and bring that into a constructive and imaginative dialogue with some of the leading-edge perspectives in digital ethics. In doing so we hope to help young people to be more aware of how to prudentially and ethically navigate the opportunities that digital citizenship brings.”

The research team will work closely with 12 secondary schools and four sets of resource developers, observing practice, interviewing pupils, reflecting on key challenges as part of a national group, and making use of an innovative smartphone-enabled daily survey method with young people. Resources will be developed in co-operation with schools to teach about digital challenges. The final report of the project will be completed in December 2024.

The “Teaching for Digital Citizenship: In the Classroom and Beyond” team:

  • Dr David Lundie, Senior Lecturer in Education & Deputy Head of School, University of Glasgow School of Interdisciplinary Studies, Principal Investigator
  • Professor James Conroy, Professor of Religious and Philosophical Education, University of Glasgow School of Education
  • Professor Bob Davis, Professor of Religious and Cultural Education, University of Glasgow School of Education
  • Dr Jeremy Knox, Co-Director of the Centre for Research in Digital Education, University of Edinburgh, Moray House School of Education
  • Professor Joao Porto de Albuquerque, Director of the Urban Big Data Centre, University of Glasgow

The ESRC Education Funding Call

The ESRC Education Funding Call

The programme addresses key challenges in policy and practice in different parts of the UK.

Projects will make a significant scientific contribution by strengthening the evidence base underpinning research-informed practice in education, leading to improvements in professional and policymaker knowledge.

By developing a more robust understanding of the factors affecting the quality of teaching and learning, project outcomes are intended to have positive impacts on the lives of children and their families over the long term.

In line with the overall programme, this project:

  • involves joint working with practitioners, policymakers and other stakeholders to bridge boundaries between research, policy and practice in new ways
  • considers various aspects of local, regional and national contexts that help determine what works, for whom, in what circumstances and why
  • addresses issues in policy and practice that are relevant to the devolved nature of primary and secondary education in the UK and the different priorities of the four nations and jurisdictions of the UK.

How to Get Involved