Information documents


10 February 2017[1]

1.2 Digital Citizenship Education: a new multilateral project for 2016-2019

Digital Citizenship Education: a progress report

Item to be considered by the TC-INF at its meeting on 21 February 2017




1.         Building on the achievements of the programme on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education, and the initial results of the project on Competences for Democracy and Intercultural Dialogue, the Steering Committee for Educational Policy and Practice (CDPPE), at its 2015 plenary meeting[2], approved a new project on Digital Citizenship Education (DCE). In brief, the project seeks to respond to a variety of challenges associated with the need for public authorities to move beyond policies aimed at safety and protection on-line to empowerment and ensuring full and active participation for all children in digital society. Its main outcome is that, through the development of Policy Guidelines for use by member States and other actors, DCE becomes a sustainable feature in primary and secondary education in Europe. Further information in the project is set out in the Appendix.

2.         With funding secured in the Programme and Budget 2016-2017, the project was launched in March 2016. It was endorsed in the Final Declaration of the Council of Europe Standing Conference of Ministers of Education on “Securing Democracy through Education” (Brussels, 11-12 April 2016), in which Ministers undertook “to support the work of the Council of Europe in developing digital citizenship education in line with the Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture”. On 26 April 2016, a group of members of the Parliamentary Assembly tabled a motion welcoming the project’s launch (PACE Doc. 14042).

Activities during 2016

3.         An inter-disciplinary ad hoc group was set up (the DCE Expert Group) comprising experts from the Internet Governance and Children’s Right programmes, media and data protection, as well as from Education Department to help guide the first phase of the project. These experts (see Appendix) were nominated due to their capacity to represent various relevant sectors of activity in a transversal group, their capacity to carry out the activities described in the Note, and their existing contacts with other international and sector organisations. The DCE Expert Group met on 22-23 March, 7-8 July and 22-23 September 2016. It focused its work in two main areas:

a)     A review of existing literature on the concept of digital citizenship, current digital education policies and contemporary digital education practices and challenges in schools. The literature review also addressed the radicalisation of young people on social media, and the risk of fake news and hate speech;

b)    Multi-stakeholder consultations regarding the place of digital citizenship education projects and programmes in school settings (curricula and school organisations) and mapping the administrative and legal responsibilities for school leaders, teachers, students and parents. 

4.         During 2016, various members of the DCE Expert Group also attended relevant international events, such as EuroDIG 2016 (Brussels, 9-10 June) and the Second European Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Forum (Riga, 27-29 June). Education Department and Expert Group members used their participation in existing processes alongside other international organisations such as UNESCO and OECD to promote the project, and align its associated activities. The Expert Group also contributed to on-going discussions for the development of a reference framework on Private and Data Protection in Education through one of its members representing the Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés (France).

Activities during 2017-2018

5.         In 2017, the DCE Expert Group will develop a Digital Citizenship Handbook to be used by governments, the civil sector, industry and academia. This Handbook is intended to generate a common understanding of, and bring some consistency to, the terminology around and direction and implementation of DCE in Europe, and meet the challenges identified in the literature review and multi-stakeholder consultation. The Handbook will be organised on the basis of the 10 digital domains identified by the DCE Expert Group:

Learning and Creativity                                    Privacy and Security

Access and inclusion                                       Rights and Responsibilities

Active Participation                                         Ethics and Empathy

Health and Wellbeing                                       Media and Information Literacy

ePresence and Communications                      Consumer Awareness

6.         A conference, to be held in Strasbourg on 21-22 September 2017, will review the outcomes of the two-year project, and provide additional direction to the Handbook’s content and the project’s future focus.

7.         Provision will be made in the draft Programme and Budget for 2018-2019 for the project to continue, focusing on three priority themes each year, such as bullying, privacy and data protection, media literacy (2018); and resources, digital policy officers, and families (2019), alongside the dissemination of the Handbook in member States. In addition, in 2017 and 2018 priority will be given to the development of DCE in primary and secondary education through two complementary activities: implementation strategies and awareness-raising.

Implementation strategies

• Articulate DCE alongside the Council of Europe’s Competences for Democratic Culture (CDC);

• Develop digital and non-digital resources for teachers and educators, for example through massive open on-line courses, apps, games, publications etc;

• Map the administrative and legal responsibilities for school leaders, teachers, students and parents;

• Encourage families to engage with digital citizenship.

Awareness strategies

• Create and launch an awareness-raising campaign to sensitize decision-makers and policy-makers and promote the relevance of DCE in addressing current challenges faced by pupils and students;

• Organise conferences exploring implications for curriculum, assessment, teachers education, pedagogy, school organisation and good practice results;

• Research on developmental windows for teaching and inculcation of skills, values etc.



The Digital Citizenship Education project seeks to respond to a variety of challenges associated with the need for public authorities to move beyond policies aimed at safety and protection on-line to empowerment and ensuring full and active participation for all children in digital society.

Such policies could shape new responsibilities for the education sector – school leadership, teachers and students – not only with regard to the place and use of new technology and devices, but also on the increased learning value that modern technologies bring to the classroom. At the same time, such policies could re-define the concept of “democratic citizenship” by the introduction of new forms of participation in democracy and the opportunities and risks associated with a globally inter-connected world. 

The project seeks to harness the Council of Europe’s established pan-European role developing integrated policies and approaches to the challenges schools and society face, by extending this to the specific challenges associated with the digital education – for example, the growing importance of the digital environment in students’ lives; the shift from “digital natives” to “digital citizens”; transversal competences for accessing, communicating, participating and creating on-line; and tackling exclusion from “digital life” due to the lack of skills and competences.

The Digital Citizenship Education project comprises the following elements:

Members of the ad hoc expert group on Digital Citizenship Education




Divina Frau-Meigs

Université de Paris III, Information and communication sciences; Chair of UNESCO Working Group “Savoir devenir dans le développement numérique durable”

Media and internet governance

Brian O’Neill

Director of Research, Enterprise and Innovation Services, Dean of Graduate Research School, Dublin Institute of Technology

Children’s Rights

Elizabeth Milovidov

eSafety Consultant

Children’s Rights, cyber-bullying

Janice Richardson

Senior Adviser, ENABLE (European Network Against Bullying in Learning and Leisure Environments)

Alessandro Soriani

Dipartimento di Scienze dell’Educazione, Università di Bologna; author “The Influence of Virtual Social Spaces on Relationships in Classrooms”


Victor Tomé

Digital Citizenship Education, media information literacy and new literacy

Pascale Raulin-Serrier

Senior Adviser, Digital Education; member of the Commission nationale de l’informatique e des libertés


Martin Schmalzried

Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer, COFACE (Confederation of Family Organisations in the European Union)

Family-friendly environment; safer internet


[1] This document has been classified restricted until examination by the Committee of Ministers.

[2] Discussion note DGII/EDU/DCPPE (2015) 6