Digital Citizenship = Global Citizenship

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A few days ago, I had an interaction at work in which I was visibly upset, more so than I have been since my early days of impassioned response, and those days, I attribute to youth.  This is not to say I am any less passionate, but rather that now, with maturity and perspective, I am more able to see all the murky gray that surrounds any situation.

In reflecting on why I was so upset, I realize that it had nothing to do with what was actually said in the meeting, but rather the expectations I had in going into the meeting.

I write this as I reflect on the following question, a question which seems to have a clear black and white answer:  Whose job is it to teach students to be safe online?

In essence, it is our job, everyone’s, all the adults.  Yet, that is a very unsafe assumption because the question should actually read, how do we teach students to be safe online?  And when?

As an administrator, I deal with issues centered around online safety and cyberbullying.  While they may be occurring in high school, many of these things actually started in 5th and 6th grade.

It is far too easy to offload responsibility.  I can imagine any of the following responses to the question:

  • The parents should teach it…
  • It should be taught in elementary school, middle school…
  • High school is too late…
  • We don’t have time in our curriculum…
  • We should start a separate 21st Century Skills class…

Who  is right?  No one and everyone.  Such is the beauty and problem of the world.

The fact is this: we should all be teaching digital citizenship because in today’s world, digital citizenship is global citizenship.  We should not create a separate unit that we teach once and expect students to know.  We should not relegate it to some random age grouping.  We should be constantly reminding students as we go through our courses.  We should not assume knowledge and say that “it is not my responsibility – they should have learned it before.”  At whatever age we teach, we must always meet a student where he/she is, and move that student forward.

In Outliers, Gladwell writes about the 10,000 hours.  He states that for anyone to become an expert, that person must engage in the activity, must practice for 10,000 hours.  If we go with this now widely accepted principle, is it any wonder our students have yet to reach mastery?  Be it with research citation, writing process, linear equations, or three point perspective, we must remember that we are experts and our students are novices.  Hence, they need practice.

Whose job is it to teach online safety?  Digital citizenship?  It is our job.  All of the adults in that student’s life, be it a parent, a grade 1 teacher or a senior English teacher, should be surrounding that student, providing inputs and supports for success.

Just as I should not have assumed intent in my recent meeting, neither should we assume knowledge in students.  We must embrace the notion that these are our children, and it is our responsibility and our privilege to teach them more than content.  It is our privilege to support and influence them as they move forward in life.

4 thoughts on “Digital Citizenship = Global Citizenship

  1. Nicely said Tara. Its an effort to be taken on by each one of the stakeholders. The idea that a “digital native” intuitively knows what to do and how to do, and will make the right choices is one that baffles me in some ways. Just because the kids are surrounded by technology does not mean that kids will know how to use technology effectively -and that is hopefully the goal.

  2. Tara, I found your blog post while doing my daily search on digital citizenship – global citizenship. I am co-authoring an article on weaving digital citizenship into the core curriculum and would love to include a quote from this post:
    “The fact is this: we should all be teaching digital citizenship because in today’s world, digital citizenship is global citizenship. We should not create a separate unit that we teach once and expect students to know. We should not relegate it to some random age grouping. We should be constantly reminding students as we go through our courses. We should not assume knowledge and say that “it is not my responsibility – they should have learned it before.” At whatever age we teach, we must always meet a student where he/she is, and move that student forward.”

    The article will be posted to our Digital ID wiki (http://digital-id.wikispaces.com) as well as several regional and national publications. We would love to have input from elementary, middle, and high school administrators.

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