Visitors and Residents and Digital Citizenship

My recent post and exploring on residents vs visitors makes me think about some of the problems around the conversations about digital citizenship. When schools and districts want to discuss digital citizenship they usually want to emphasize the dangers and problems of thoughtless online behaviour. The tagline for digital citizenship for many educators is “don’t do bad stuff”. I think one of the reasons is that most people remain visitors of the web. In the same way when you take your children to visit another country or even another family, making sure your kids behave themselves is the focus. You don’t want them to wreck anything. It’s largely about damage control. Conversely, when you’re part of a community, a resident of a country, your belief about citizenship is as much about contributions and impact rather than simply not doing bad things. When we grant someone citizenship we speak of responsibility to make things better, not just staying out of trouble. The message that most students are receiving about how to live and act online is coming from visitors. Since many of them are residents, this is an obvious disconnect. It would be like me telling my American colleagues how to … Read the rest

The Mixed Message of Digital Citizenship

Whenever I hear the term “digital citizenship” I usually am skeptical. When we began using the term several years ago, it typically focused on keeping kids safe online. It was generally a scare tactic that told students that they should be wary of posting anything online because it’s forever. The assumption was kids will post inappropriate stuff.  Recently the message has softened and most acknowledge kids are going to be posting online and so the message is about posting only the good stuff. These messages have some truth but like most things are nuanced and require more discussion than simple posters or mantras can provide. Jared Heidinger shared this video

The Innovation of Loneliness from Shimi Cohen on Vimeo.

There’s a lot here to discuss but the part that hit me was at the  2:30 mark. My kids, who are teenagers and adults, often tell me how they get annoyed at many people’s facebook and instagram postings because they always refer to how awesome their life is.

“Reading a great book”
“My wonderful husband just made me the most delicious meal”
“Enjoying a glass of wine while viewing the beautiful sunset”

Updated content: This video says it well…… Read the rest

Even 8 year olds get it

My wife, after spending the last 10 years as a teacher librarian is back in the classroom. She's doing a fantastic job and has committed to share her students work through her blog. I set her up with posterous and it's working really well. She's posted more than once a day sharing photos, videos and is getting great feedback from students and parents. She'll be shifting to students posting their own work soon. 

She told me interesting story today. Each week she does a little warm up activity called "Minute to Win It". She draws names out of a hat to determine the order. Today she realized that the one student that would not get picked today would not take it well. She knew the student  was going to cry.  Just as she was about to film the other student, the water works began with loud wailing. My wife turned to the student and said, "Do you want people on the internet to see you crying?" She was shocked when the student immediately stopped crying. She didn't need to say another word. She didn't think it would make that much of a difference but it did. Later the Read the rest

What about Forgiveness?

Cross Posted at TechLearning


A recent post by Vicki Davis has me thinking. Vicki warns about Facebook’s challenging privacy options and suggest educators will run into problems if students view our pages and see our friends posting profanity on our walls. This post isn’t really about Vicki’s post as much as it simply triggers some thoughts about the way we handle what we view to be inappropriate content and interactions. It made me think about forgiveness.

I’m not opposed to anything Vicki writes. I think we need to be empowered as much as possible to control and manage our content and identity. Understanding the nuances of a space like Facebook is an important skill in 2011. Schools and teachers need to be talking and showing students how to manage their online lives.

But if we address the specifics of Vicki’s issue there are a couple of things that concern me. Here’s an excerpt about what triggered Vicki’s post.

Someone in our community – an adult- posted HORRIBLE things on his page.(School Fan Page) Because the adults were friends and the students were friends with the teachers and adults, they were exposed to it. Some people blamed the school because

Read the rest

“One in Five” Really?

Data driven decision making is a buzz word in education of late. My crap detector goes into high alert when this discussion roles around, since data in this case usually means test scores and tests usually means low level, knowledge based memorization. Without this discussion, it's too easy to move to solutions that potentially address something that in the end, real educators care about… improving test scores. 

Data can be extremely useful and yet our obsession with it is leading to some really weird and potentially damaging decisions in all areas of life.

Parents are just bad at risk assessment,” said Christie Barnes, a mother of four and the author of “The Paranoid Parents Guide.” “We are constantly overestimating rare dangers while underestimating common ones.”

The one that continues to haunt me is the very scary Internet predator. I've written about it often enough but what I want to address here is the way in which data has be used carelessly and unethically to promote fear and sell products.

“One in five children is now approached by online predators." This statistic has been quoted numerous times by media and other agencies to paint a very inaccurate picture … Read the rest