ISTE Standards for Coaching

Integrating Online Peer Review Tools in Higher Education to Reinforce Digital Citizenship Skills

Imagine the work environment of a clinical dietitian prior to organizational digitalization. Communications with patients were initiated in person and on the phone. Medical charting was completed by hand and stored in hard copy files. Interdisciplinary communications were accomplished in conference rooms or conversing at the nurse’s station. Many of the digital communication tools we rely on in the 21st century were largely unavailable for use in the dietetics work environment in the 20th century, and dietetics education, in turn, mimicked the clinical landscape. Dietetics students polished their professional skills by giving oral presentations, conducting in-person mock counseling sessions, and creating pamphlets or handouts showing their skills in nutrition education. 

With exploding advancements in digital technology integration in professional work environments, it is essential that dietetics students develop 21st century skills for success in today’s digital world. Due to increased utilization of remote learning in higher education, college students have the opportunity to practice several 21st century skills that pertain to use of digital technology. 

 The Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction describes the following 21st century leadership skills in their Career and Technical Education (CTE) performance indicators (OSPI): 

  • Communicate clearly  – utilize multiple media and technologies, and know how to judge their effectiveness a priori as well as assess their impact
  • Collaborate with others – demonstrate ability to work effectively and respectfully with diverse teams
  • Assess and evaluate information – evaluate information critically and competently 
  • Interact effectively with others – conduct themselves in a professional, respectful manner 
  • Guide and lead others – demonstrate integrity and ethical behavior in using influence and power

These 21st century skills from the Washington State CTE curriculum reflect components of digital citizenship and should be reinforced in curricula at the college level, including in dietetics education courses.  

What is digital citizenship? 

“Digital citizenship encompasses digital literacy, ethics, etiquette, online safety, norms, rights, culture, and more (virtual library info).

Digital etiquette is an important component of digital citizenship and 21st century skill-building. Since so much of our communications in the digital age are through digital technology, it is imperative that dietetics students have opportunities to practice digital etiquette. Components of digital etiquette include: 

  • Interactions should be polite, respectful and kind. 
  • Written communications should be professional, including use of proper grammar, and clear and concise information provided. 
  • Information exchanges should avoid use of humor and sarcasm, as they are difficult to interpret digitally.  
  • Using language that is not harsh or offensive. 
  • Treat others the same way you would treat them in person.

(Lynch, 2017;;


ISTE Standard for Educators: Citizen

The question I am exploring pertains to the International Society for Technology in Education’s (ISTE) Standards for Educators 3: Citizen:

“Educators inspire students to positively contribute and responsibly participate in the digital world,” and 3a: “Create experiences for learners to make positive, socially responsible contributions and exhibit empathetic behavior online that build relationships and community” (ISTE). 

How can digital citizenship skills be reinforced through use of digital peer review tools? 

Integration of peer assessment in higher education can offer benefits to both the reviewer and the reviewee. As a formative assessment tool, students receive low stakes feedback from peer reviewers before submitting an assignment for summative feedback. The reviewee, on the other hand, has the opportunity to critically evaluate the work of their peers, which can broaden their knowledge in course content, but also provides opportunities to demonstrate digital citizenship. 

A study conducted by Roman et al. (2020) explored the integration of online peer review tools in distance education courses. The authors state that peer formative feedback is a useful tool as it communicates information “…to the learner that is intended to modify his or her thinking or behavior for the purpose of improving learning.” Further, the authors state that for online peer formative feedback to be successful, students need to practice “giving and receiving feedback” prior to performing these tasks. The authors conclude by stating that online peer review tools, when successfully implemented, can enhance authentic learning in digital environments by providing “…the opportunity for students to engage in… meaningful dialogue and collaboration around course content.”  

PeerGrade Peer Feedback Tool 

The peer review tool I am interested in exploring is PeerGrade, which is one of over 40 digital tools available for students to use to provide feedback in the form of a peer review assessment (Roman et al., 2020). Below are the key features of this digital peer review tool: 

  • Instructors develop assessment rubrics, which can be structured to promote digital citizenship skills. 
  • There are three stages in the assignment process. 
    • Step 1: Students upload their assignment rough drafts (i.e. the assignment hand-in stage) by a predetermined due date. 
    • Step 2: Students are assigned one or more anonymous peer assignments to review based on the rubric developed by their instructor. (Note: I would like to learn more about how rubrics are created in this digital tool. At first glance, it appears to offer options that are similar to what is available in a Google form.) 
    • Step 3: Students access and review feedback provided during the peer review process. During this stage, students can indicate that the peer feedback received was either helpful (with a thumbs up), or they can indicate disagreement with the peer feedback by flagging one or more ratings 
    • If any peer feedback is flagged, the instructor will be prompted to review any discrepancies to determine how that part of the rough draft should be graded. 
  • The flagged feedback can provide rich learning opportunities on the subject of digital citizenship, especially if the feedback is unprofessional, including disrespectful, unkind, unclear, and/or vague/unhelpful.  
  • The recipient of the peer review can also rate their reviewer on their feedback by clicking on categories, such as kindness, specificity, and constructivity. 
  • I think setting up the rubric to promote digital citizenship is important, but there will also be teachable moments to continue reinforcing digital citizenship through the feedback provided back to the reviewer from the reviewee. 

This Youtube video provides an overview of PeerGrade from both the student and instructor interfaces:

Below is a brief summary of some the pros and cons of using this tool from the following websites:;;


  • Customizable tool
  • A library of rubrics is provided. 
  • Students receive feedback from their peers, but are also able to provide feedback on the work of the reviewer 
  • Saves teachers time by having students complete formative assessments. 
  • Enables students to broaden their knowledge of course content by reviewing their peers’ work 


  • It is specifically designed for higher education, and may not be appropriate for use in K-12 classrooms. 

PeerGrade can be integrated into Learning Management Systems, such as Canvas. Here is a video that describes the integration:

Digital peer review can accomplish so much more than peer editing. Not only does this process expand students’ knowledge and perspectives in course content, it also provides rich learning and practice in digital citizenship. Opportunities to receive instructor feedback on digital citizenship, including digital etiquette, will likely enhance the professionalism and 21st century skills needed for success in the workforce. 


Author unknown. Digital citizenship.

Author unknown. Digital citizenship & ethics.

Author unknown. EdTech Impact.

Digital citizenship.

O’Hear, S. (2016). Peergrade lets students grade each other’s assignments. TechCrunch.

International Society for Technology in Education.

Lynch, M. (2017). Modeling digital citizenship in the classroom. The Edvocate.

Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Washington Career and Technical Education 21st Century Leadership Skills.

Roman, T., Callison, M., Myers, R.D., and Berry, A.H. (2020). Facilitating authentic learning experiences in distance education: Embedding research-based practices into an online peer feedback tool. TechTrends. 64, 591-605.   

Myra, D. PeerGrade.oi – A time saver for peer reviews. Commonsense Education.

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