A conceptual framework for digital civics pedagogy informed by the philosophy of information

Publication Date25 Dec 2019
AuthorEstelle Clements
SubjectLibrary & information science,Records management & preservation,Document management,Classification & cataloguing,Information behaviour & retrieval,Collection building & management,Scholarly communications/publishing,Information & knowledge management,Information management & governance,Information management,Information & communications technology,Internet
A conceptual framework for
digital civics pedagogy informed
by the philosophy of information
Estelle Clements
Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin, Ireland
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to draw on the philosophy of information, specifically the work of
Luciano Floridi, to argue that digital civics must fully comprehend the implications of the digital environment,
and consequently an informational ontology, to deliver to students an education that will prepare them for full
participation as citizens in the infosphere.
Design/methodology/approach Introducing this philosophy for use in education, the research discusses
the ethical implications of ontological change in the digital age; informational organisms and their
interconnectivity; and concepts of agency, both organic and artificial in digitally mediated civic interactions
and civic education.
Findings With the provision of a structural framework rooted in the philosophy of information, robust
mechanisms for civics initiatives can be enacted.
Originality/value The paper allows policy makers and practitioners to formulate healthy responses to
digital age challenges in civics and civics education.
Keywords Philosophy of information, Educational philosophy, Civics education, Digital civics,
Digital teaching and learning, Information ethics
Paper type Research paper
Digital civics and Floridis Philosophy of Information
Digital civics refers to civic behaviours, citizenship or democratic engagement in the digital
realm, encompassing various dimensions of ethical and responsible behaviour in digital age
contexts. It takes account of the ubiquitous inter-relationship between humanity and digital
technologies, and the impact of this relationship on civic understanding and practise. This
paper adopts the definition put forward in previous work undertaken by the researcher since
2010[1] presenting digital civics as: the study of the rights and responsibilities of citizens who
inhabit the infosphere and access the world digitally. This incorporates an understanding of
the environment within which civic actions take place and the basic rights and ethical
responsibilities of citizens in traditional civics. The env ironment articulated in this definition,
the infosphere, is underpinned by Luciano Floridis Philosophy of Information (Floridi, 2002);a
field that considers the use of computers and the philosophical issues that arise from them. This
includes ethical issues as well as changes in self-understanding that result in behavioural
changes or challenges. This complex philosophical underpinning, and its implications on civic
behaviour and education will be explored in this paper. Digital civics is currently establishing
currency as a term; however, this paper argues that an appropriate philosophical underpinning
is critical to the success of digital civics and digital citizenship education initiatives. It further
proposes that a broader knowledge of Floridis presentation of the philosophy of information in
educationandrelatedpolicyareascouldpromote an even greater sense of digital civic
responsibility and pedagogical success in this area. Digital civics pedagogy requires a
theoretically informed ethical framework cognisant of the informational environment in which
ethical interactions occur, in order to successfully establish itself. To underpin this framework,
this paper adopts as its starting point a digital ethics perspective informed by the work of Journal of Documentation
Vol. 76 No. 2, 2020
pp. 571-585
© Emerald PublishingLimited
DOI 10.1108/JD-07-2019-0139
Received 11 July 2019
Revised 27 November 2019
Accepted 1 December 2019
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
The author has no interests to declare. This work was supported by the Dublin Institute of Technology.
Digital civics

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