Digital Citizenship & Digital Identity
FSEM 101-A24, Fall 2019

What does it mean to be a digital citizen? How do you know what’s real online? Why would you want to create – or curate – an online persona? This course provides opportunities for you to grapple with these and other big questions related to life in the digital age. Along the way, you’ll build digital competencies that will serve you in your college career and beyond. Topics include participating in online communities, critically evaluating online content, protecting yourself digitally, defining who you want to be online, and more.


Instructor: Megan Brooks
Staff Mentor: Thomas San Filippo
Librarian: Janine Kuntz
Student Success Advisor: Susan Friedman
Preceptors: Sophie Garland-Dore and Courtney Gibeley

Course Materials and Costs

All readings will be posted/linked in OnCourse: $0.00
1 year of website hosting from Reclaim Hosting: $30.00 

Course Structure

This course will primarily follow a seminar style. Class sessions will consist of lecture, discussion, workshops, and/or hands-on work. You will be expected to bring a laptop or tablet to class. If your laptop or tablet isn’t working, there is a laptop cart in the classroom.

Honor Code

It is my expectation that everyone in this course will abide by the Wheaton Honor Code. “As members of the Wheaton community, we commit ourselves to act honestly, responsibly, and above all, with honor and integrity in all areas of campus life. We are accountable for all that we say and write. We are responsible for the academic integrity of our work. We pledge that we will not misrepresent our work nor give or receive unauthorized aid. We commit ourselves to behave in a manner which demonstrates concern for the personal dignity, rights and freedoms of all members of the community. We are respectful of college property and the property of others. We will not tolerate a lack of respect for these values. I accept responsibility to maintain the Honor Code at all times.”

If you have any questions about the honor code as it relates to your academics, please reach out! As a librarian, I am particularly interested in helping you understand how to ethically use information.

Classroom Guidelines

You have a responsibility to yourself, your classmates, and me to contribute to an environment in which we can engage critically and openly in the learning process. You will be expected to treat all members of this seminar with respect for and recognition of our diverse life and educational experiences and learning styles.


Wheaton is committed to ensuring equitable access to programs and services and to prohibit discrimination in the recruitment, admission, and education of students with disabilities. Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations or information on accessibility should contact Autumn Grant, Associate Director for Accessibility Services at the Filene Center for Academic Advising and Career Services: or (508) 286-8215.

Course Requirements & Grading

There are many factors that will contribute to your grade in this course. You are expected to attend all class sessions, to complete assigned readings before each class session, to attend evening events, and to complete in-class exercises and written/other assignments. Please see below for more details.

Participation – 25%

One of the two largest contributing factors to your grade in this course is participation. The following elements will contribute to your course participation grade. Your daily participation in class is key to earning these points; if you do not attend, you cannot earn them!

  • Completion of the summer assignment and any other assignments that are not on the syllabus.
  • Attending class clearly prepared to share your ideas.
  • Participating in class discussions, both large group and small group/pairs.
  • Completing assigned readings before class and bringing them to class.
  • Providing discussion questions related to assigned readings.
  • Completing in-class assignments and exercises, particularly those with external visitors!
  • Attending dinner with President Hanno and Mrs. Hanno  on October 29 at 5:30pm.

Portfolio Project – 25%

The portfolio project, a semester-long project, is the other largest contributing factor to your grade in this course. As part of this project, you will be expected to sign up for a domain and web hosting, install WordPress or another content management system, and create an online portfolio of your own. More details about this project will be forthcoming. The rest of the assignments described below will be posted to your portfolio. Posting the assignments to your portfolio will contribute to your final portfolio project grade. Your final portfolio will be due at midnight on Tuesday, December 10.

Reaction Papers – 15% (posted to portfolio)

After each of the first three major themes of this course, you will write a short reaction paper related to the theme, readings, and class activities. You will be expected to find additional materials about the theme and incorporate those ideas into your reaction papers. Each reaction paper will account for 5% of your grade. These papers will be due the start of class on September 17, October 10, and October 29. In addition, you will post each of these papers to your portfolio. More details about the reaction papers will be forthcoming.

Alternate Format Project – 5% (posted to portfolio)

This project will allow you to take one of your reaction papers and transform it from the written word into something entirely different. The format and method of transformation are in your hands. You will post the completed project to your portfolio. This project will be due at the start of class on November 5. More details about this project will be forthcoming.

Biography – 5% (posted to portfolio)

As part of your exploration of your digital identity, you will develop a biography of yourself to post on your portfolio. This will be due at the start of class on November 14. Again, more details on this will be forthcoming.

Reflective Essay – 10% (posted to portfolio)

As the final synthesis of what you’ve learned throughout this class, you will write a personal reflection on what it means to be a digital citizen and how/who you want to be in the online arena. You will make a statement of your values as a digital citizen. As part of this, you will be asked to address online communities, security and privacy, and misinformation and fact-checking in your reflection. This will be due at the start of class on November 21. More details forthcoming.

Presentation/Feedback – 5%

To close out your time in this seminar, your final course experience will be in two parts: you will present some portion of your portfolio to the class, and you will be assigned one classmate for whom you will provide feedback at the end of their presentation. This assignment is designed to help you gain familiarity with talking about your work in front of your classmates and to help you learn important skills of paying attention to others’ presentations and asking questions. These presentations/feedback sessions will take place on December 3 and December 5; you will present on one day and provide feedback on the other day. More details about this will be forthcoming.

Wheaton Experiences – 10% (posted to portfolio)

To introduce you to all the Wheaton community has to offer, you will earn Wheaton Experience Points (WEPs) by attending and reporting on various campus events in your portfolio. Experiences can include: lectures, concerts, panels, performances, gallery visits, makerspace visits, attending faculty office hours, attending an SGA meeting, meeting with a peer writing tutor, sporting events, and so on. Earn 2% of your final grade for each Wheaton Experience you complete, up to 10% in total. You must complete at least 1 WEP in September, October, and November; all 5 WEPs and reports must be completed and posted to your portfolio by the start of class on December 3.

FYS Goals

At the end of your FYS you should be able to:

  1. Undertake rigorous academic work.
  2. Undertake independent research/experiential projects/other activities using campus resources.
  3. Develop or strengthen college success strategies including time management, study skills, note-taking, collaborative work, and information literacy.
  4. Build relationships with advisors, preceptors, classmates, and campus support staff.
  5. Understand college-level expectations for how to read, write, research, and discuss material effectively.
  6. Understand the way Wheaton is organized and how to access its resources.
  7. Understand your own expectations for college and have in place strategies to successfully implement them.
  8. Begin to establish your own place as an active, engaged citizen of the Wheaton community.

At the end of this FYS, you should answer these questions:

  • What are digital citizenship and digital identity?
  • What does it mean to participate productively in online communities? 
  • What do privacy and security mean in a digital age?
  • What steps do I need to take to take to verify claims, particularly those shared online?
  • Why might I want to be online and who do I want to be online? 

Skills you may be able to put on your resume after taking this FYS:

  • Installing and customizing WordPress. 
  • Securing your personal devices.
  • Converting text-based content into another format.
  • Beginning fact-checking.

Course Schedule & Readings

Works Consulted

As we will learn in our ethics of information use session, citing sources is part of how we operate in academia in the United States. We cite sources to give credit to those whose ideas we are building on in our own work and to be able to trace the flow of ideas. All the reading listed in the syllabus are available in our OnCourse site with full citations. But it’s not just the readings that are important. This course could not have been developed without the generous sharing of information by many in the open pedagogy and digital citizenship communities. In particular, the work of individuals Maha Bali, Martha Burtis, Autumm Caines, Mike Caulfield, Donna Lanclos, Lawrie Phipps, Jessie Stommel, and Audrey Watters inspired and educated me and led me to readings and activities used in this course. Institutionally, the University of Mary Washington’s Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies provided loose frameworks for many of our class sessions and Bryn Mawr College’s Digital Competencies and UBC’s Digital Tattoo projects served up wonderful food for thought. Organizationally, the DigCiz and DigPins communities foster openness and collegiality, for which I am grateful.