Digital Citizenship or whatever you want to call it…what to do about it

Internet Saftey, Digital Citizenship, Information Literacy, all point in a similar direction. Helping kids be smart,safe and good. Remove the digital part and we’ve been doing this for years. But after the following exchanges, I’m a little confused:

In order to fully participate in this conversation,you’ll need go and read those posts.

So part of me thinks, “Hey, why do we need to address this in our schools anymore than we’ve addressed behaviour and morals in an offline context? Is it really that different? After spending time with Alec and the research he’s done, I do understand that digitally the implications and speed at which things travel does make some difference, but as Stephen Downes states:

The vile content – and it most certainly is vile – is neither new nor original. And it’s not the kids that are creating it.

As Stephen goes on to say, it’s kids modeling what they see. And even as I write this, I’m watching a story on 20/20 about meanness and completely validates Stephen’s premise about adults doing the vile acts. The media loves this and eats it up creating fear and uproar and has the public looking for scapegoats and something to blame.

I posted a while back that I wasn’t sure we needed to distinguish between bullying and cyberbullying. I still feel this way. We know that good and bad isn’t predicated because of technology. Like learning, technology simply accelerates it.

I remember a few years back schools were asked to teach kids Social Skills in a very contrived regimented format. Good and well meaning ideas but out of context and I’m not sure how effective it was. We don’t use that program anymore but we haven’t stopped talking about things like, how to speak to adults, how to respond when a fight breaks out, or how to join a game on the playground. We recognize many kids come to school with little or no social skills and schools hopefully do their best to address this along side academic goals. Many schools put this front and center and understand that learning may not matter if social skills aren’t in place.

So where does it leave us? As educator’s should we simply carry on and talk about the digital issues the same way we talk about offline issues and morals? Do we need something distinct? Should it be mandated? Even as Vicki asked Stephen Downes and Tom Hoffman, “what do we call it if not Digital Citizenship?” I’m wondering too. As a leader in my school district and teachers and administrators looking for answers and directions, how should we respond if at all?

One of the simplest suggestions I’ve handed out lately is talk to your kids. Whether you’re a parent or teacher, engage in conversations about behaviour, morals, ethics, compassion and social justice. Good teachers have been doing this for a long time

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