Date of Conferral







MaryFriend Carter


Middle school students misuse social media without understanding the negative influence on their global digital footprint and lives. Research does not provide insight into how students develop digital citizenship skills for positive digital footprints and appropriate social media use. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore students' growth as digital citizens while participating in one digital citizenship project using global collaboration and social media. The conceptual framework included Ribble's theory of digital citizenship and Siemens's theory of connectivism. Research questions asked how students' digital citizenship developed when they were engaged in social media and global collaborative projects. Participants included 7 middle school teachers and 1 project administrator. Structured interviews and Wiki data were analyzed using an iterative open coding technique to identify rich, thick themes and patterns. The findings showed global collaborative projects and social media served as catalysts to motivate students as they took action as digital citizens, overcame barriers to digital citizenship, used social media for learning and collaboration, and adopted less ethnocentric views of the world. Students compared other cultures to their own, considered the welfare of others online, and modified their online behavior in favor of positive global digital footprints. Students used social media responsibly, were academically motivated by an authentic audience, and shared their academic learning with others in their local and extended communities. Reform of middle school curricula to include global collaborative projects and instruction in digital citizenship may bring about positive social change as students learn to be responsible users of social media.