Digital citizenship. Since taking EC&I 831 I started to realize the importance that you work your way into my teaching practice, yet how can I really do so when I’m more of a digital visitor than a resident? I’ve got some work to do…

 

Much like Krystle, I was very young when the whole Monica Lewinsky ordeal broke in the 1990’s. In her blog ‘Burst my bubble? Oblivious no more!’, she discusses not really understanding the impact of these events at the time on a person’s life, and I didn’t either. I never really felt much compassion for people ‘making mistakes’ until last year in EC&I 831 when I realized that, like Jon Ronson explains in his Ted Talk, that one simple tweet can literally ruin your life. Perhaps I never felt much compassion because I felt these people had done something really wrong. I have never been overly active in the online world so that ignorance kept me in the dark about how easily something said can be misconstrued. In the online world, we don’t always know the context to which something is being said, yet we are quick to assume and deal out the blame and shame.

https://embed-ssl.ted.com/talks/monica_lewinsky_the_price_of_shame.html

I have used the Monica Lewinsky Ted Talk in a previous blog post and talked about how hopefully we will become a more tolerant society and become more forgiving of each other’s mistakes. We all make ‘em. But not only do we jump on peoples mistakes and dehumanize them, but we’re just flat out mean in general! I was appalled reading Danielle’s blog in which she shows comments on a YouTube video of her class. There were nasty things being said that range from criticism of the teacher all the way down to the diet of the kids. And these are little kids! Instances like this should be proof enough to any teacher the importance of teaching our students about positive digital citizenship.

 

Mike Ribbell discusses 9 components of being a digital citizen which are:

  1. digital access
  2. digital commerce
  3. digital communication
  4. digital literacy
  5. digital etiquette
  6. digital law
  7. digital rights and responsibilities
  8. digital health and wellness
  9. digital security

 

I agree with the importance of each of these components, but haven’t really thought about how I can explicitly teach these in secondary sciences. I never really thought much about it being my responsibility, but my thinking has been changing and I now believe we all have that responsibility. I’ve done a token explanation of the importance of being a good digital citizen here and there, but it really needs to permeate through much that we do. While reading Jason Ohler’s article one segment resonated with me in which he says, “Thus, part of our job is to help students not only use technology, but also question it. Imagine how differently a school district might behave with the following goal in place. Students will study the personal, social, and environmental impacts of every technology and media application they use in school”. I think this is brilliant. I’ve really wanted to emphasize a more holistic approach to learning in my science classes. Learning that is interdisciplinary, meaningful, and engaging. I’ve made strides, but have a long way to go, and now I know that I want to include analysis of the technology and media in the process. We can’t expect this teaching to take place at home, and we can’t expect kids just to behave properly without guidance. We teach etiquette and citizenship IRL (in real life), but the digital world is different and those skills aren’t always transferable. I have seen amazing examples of kids involved in social justice and standing up for others through digital media and I can’t back this up with any data, but I have a feeling that those students leading this charge have often times had a teacher or teachers who have been exemplary in teaching digital citizenship and being digital role models.

 

I got the term digital role model from Kayla Delzer in her blog titled ‘How you can become a champion of digital citizenship in your classroom’ which is an excellent, and quick, read about becoming a digital role model. It makes reference to the fact that 93% of employers look up the digital footprint of potential employees and so if just being a good digital citizen isn’t enough reason for you to teach it, how about helping students get jobs! It also references George Couros (those Couros’s always keep popping up) and how he stresses to educators to help students become ‘googleable’. If employers are looking potential employees up, not only do you want to have a good digital footprint, but you want to have a large footprint too! Digital media can be used as a professional portfolio like Jeannine mentions as one of the potential uses of social media for teachers. So to be a digital role model, teachers should be involved in many forms of social media and allow students to see what you are doing to demonstrate what digital citizenship is. We model positive behaviour in person in the classroom, it’s important to carry this over to the digital realm. I’ll admit it’s very scary for me, but I do feel that I have a responsibility to my students to give them a well-rounded education that should first and foremost be directed towards becoming responsible citizens.

 

One of the biggest hurdles I feel that I face in my willingness to implement more digital citizenry instruction is lack of time. Some teachers are really into this stuff and pursue it in their free time and so to them it’s easy to incorporate into the classroom. But for me and many others, it’s a difficult transition. It’s clearly important and even the ministry acknowledges it’s importance with documents like Saskatchewans Action Plan to Address Bullying and Cyberbulling, but I don’t think teachers can just be expected to pick this up on their own. The demands of the job are many, and this new one requires a lot of time and experience. I’m not sure what the best solution is, but if we want digital citizenship instruction to permeate all classrooms, teachers are going to need to be well supported.

 

So in my eagerness to find some ideas of what I can do in the classroom, I came across a Google developed curriculum about teaching #digcit. Check it out and share your best resources in the comments!

 

Live long and prosper.

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