Reading: Summary of Module 1
In Module 1, firstly, we have put things in perspective, revising existing data with regards to youth, online engagement and civic participation. For example, we have seen that in 2019 young people were the 17% of the EU population, and that 94% of young people use the internet on a daily basis, mostly through mobile devices, for different activities such as online gaming, social networking or participation in civic activities. In that sense, young people strongly rely on digital/online tools and social media to engage and participate in society. Apparently, they approach politics from a more personal perspective in which it is easier to share information and create political action.
Secondly, you have been presented with some basic principles and concepts related to active digital citizenship, setting the foundations of the concepts followed during the course:
- The concept of “citizenship” from a practical perspective, as a feeling of a citizen to have an active role in society and be part of a community and be committed to it to make an impact.
- Democratic citizenship as a step further, with active participation in the system of rights and responsibilities that define a democratic society.
- Active participation as a fundamental human right and a condition of democratic citizenship. In this sense, we have seen Roger Hart’s ladder of participation, which stresses the importance of seeing young people as agents and advocates, and providing them with opportunities to learn to participate in decision making and policy debates.
- Civic engagement, those actions in which people participate to improve the well-being of communities and digital civic engagement, referring to those civic engagement activities that involve digital media of some kind.
- E-Democracy as the practice of democracy using technology and digital tools.
- Civic-Tech as digital technologies that provide information to citizens and facilitate connection between them and their government to create cooperation for the public good. They can be considered as catalysts for social change, they are centred on citizens as beneficiaries and they focus on engagement.
- GovTech as those technologies used by governments to improve the delivery of public services through increasing efficiency.
To finalise the module, we have seen an introduction to civic-tech participatory practices and tools that are related to the different topics and modules of the course: 1) Related to Module 2 and key digital skills for civic participation, the tool Blacklight, which allows you to test the privacy-busting function of your favourite websites; 2) Related to Module 3 and monitoring public policy, the Italian initiative Scuola di Open Coesione, which strives to empower people to actively engage with public funding; 3) Related to Module 4 and engaging with online campaigning, the student initiative about gun prevention measures March for our lives started in Berkeley University; 4) and finally, related to Module 5 and smart communities and local initiatives, a public e-participation website from Latvia ManaBalss, which allows Latvian citizens propose, submit, and sign legislative initiatives to improve policies at both the national and municipal level.