Module 5 Digital Citizenship-EDTC 6431

Reflection Module 5

Learning with Technology EDTC 6431

Digital Citizenship

This week we explored digital citizenship through two divergent types of technological intervention.  One was a website about digital citizenship, called DigitalCitizenship.org, which offered: tools, tips and resources on how to promote responsible digital citizenship.  The other, CreativeCommons.org, encouraged use of ideas, materials and works by others to “Share, Remix, Reuse —Legally”.  Both websites offered a different approach to promote digital citizenship emphasizing that everyone should be a responsible internet user.  We also had the opportunity to read many articles and watch a supporting PBS documentary that underlined the possible dangers of an unsupervised internet user and the motivation for wanting to teach children to become accountable digital citizens.

Throughout this week, many discussions centered on the visceral emotion that is felt when sensitive subject matter is introduced; cyber-bullying and proper netiquette are two of these sensitive subjects. Being a responsible digital citizen is important for not only the safety of children but also for the safety of you.  In order to teach this, I believe that, we are going to have to start in the elementary years.  Much like the social citizenship lessons children learn in the elementary years, digital citizenship should be focused on in order for children to learn the respect and responsibility needed for their online playground.  Children need to learn with the tools necessary for these new technologies and total digital immersion they are sure to face in their future.  I discovered an additional website, CommonSenseMedia.org, that offered a link expressly for educators, there are also sections for parent reviews (for movies, books, games, websites, music etc.) parental advice (by grade and by topic) and community discussions!  In the educator section I was amazed by the amount of supportive information and curriculum set up to help promote digital citizenship.  The parent portion would be a great jumping off point for sharing information and encouraging participation at home to build skills for a safer environment for students.  This could help encourage parents to be more actively involved with their children and to development their computer “savviness” at a younger age.  I think that I will re-visit this site as well as the DigitalCitizenship.org site often as I take off into this new world of teaching technology.

I also wanted to reflect on the emotional and palpable tension that was encountered throughout our discussions this week. I enjoyed my classmate’s perspectives; I really feel that we, as teachers, have an opportunity and a challenge to face when teaching digital citizenship.  Many people were cautioning being too involved with proper netiquette and that it is the responsibility of the parents.  While I agree that there needs to be a balance of home/school supervision, I think that a cooperative focus in the classroom could be very beneficial for encouraging both the student and the parents to come to some sort of cohesive idea of what digital citizenship is. I located ans article, “She Used to Be Pretty”: Schoolyard Bullying Goes Online, about cyber-bullying, online communication and online harassment which paraphrased Nancy Willard’s  article  An Educator’s Guide to Cyberbullying and Cyberthreats. The focus of the piece is “when teens operate anonymously behind screen names, they perceive themselves as invisible and untouchable. And when they don’t directly experience the damage online bullying does to their victims, teens feel little empathy.” What a frightening thought. Later in the article she says girls  “…are now considered the ‘power users’ of online communication tools and then that ‘this kind of power needs to be tempered with ethics training.”  I was struck by the basic yet chilling truth of this statement.  Why are we not teaching this important skill of ethics and the internet?

Additionally, I thought the idea that was offered for peer education for students and teachers was great.  I encountered a video that shared one youth’s change from internet junkie to teaching rights, guidelines and responsibilities to younger children. This Edutopia.org video offered an inspirational way to look at how older students could be inspiring to younger children.

Lastly, I want to express my amazement for CreativeCommons.org.  This is a site where you can learn about copyright laws and engage with a community that is willing to share their creations and ideas at different levels for consumption and creative manipulation. This website demonstrates what it truly means to be a responsible digital citizen. I think this will make collaboration, creativity and sharing of materials so much more accessible and current.  This tool could encourage creation of ideas, which might have been too much work in the past, to become the reality of the future.  I am excited to explore this tool more for myself in the future for lesson plans and curriculum development.

Overall, I really enjoyed this week’s module.  I think anytime that I see people discussing passionately and feeling so thoroughly about a topic I am forced to look closer.  I think that this week I was able to see the necessity of constant engagement and creation of new material to promote responsible citizenship whether it be digital or not. I see it as another opportunity to lead by example and or teach by example.  As Theodore Roosevelt said, “The first requisite of a good citizen in this republic of ours is that he shall be able and willing to pull his own weight.”  I think he was onto something, don’t you?

References:

Edutopia, (Release Date 5/27/2009), Digital Youth Portrait: Virginia, Edutopia, retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/digital-generation-profile-virginia-video

Noonan, Kaley (July 2007) “She Used to Be Pretty”: Schoolyard Harassment Goes Online, Edutopia Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/she-used-to-be-pretty

Willard M.S., J. D., Nancy (April 2007), Educator’s Guide to Cyberbullying and Cyberthreats

Retrieved from http://www.cyberbully.org/cyberbully/docs/cbcteducator.pdf