One of the new courses in 2011 on which I am working at CSU at the moment is called Digital Citizenship in Schools. The opportunity to work with school educators on this topic is a complete bonus! I feel this way because having recently left working in schools I am only too aware of how easy it is for schools to skirt the issues, or believe they are ‘doing something’ worthwhile – yet missing the point by miles!
It is important to open our eyes as wide as we can to the possibilities, and the far-reaching changes not only in technology tools ( such as computers, laptops, cameras, multi-purpose phones, ipads and portable devices, and ebook readers) but also in information access, and social communications that our digital world is inspiring.
The media constantly report stories about the shift in digital technology use among children and teenagers. These highlight the fact that ‘the shift’ is not just a topic for educators, but is a topic of interest, and perhaps concern, for all adults. Learning to play Angry Birds before you can tie your shoes is suddenly media news! More importantly, though, is the need to grow in knowledge of the digital environment, and it’s influential role in learning and teaching.
So what are schools doing about it? Ask yourself. Look around. Look at your policies, community communications, and your teaching programs. Look at your teachers and figure out how many actually have a clue about any of this?
Fortunatley, there are some really strong role-models in the education community, who help lead the conversation, and now I have found something that I am VERY excited about!
iCyberSafe.com – Living in a Connected World
This outstanding website provides information, resources, videos, updates and more for the school community on all matters related to Digital Citizenship. It’s so easy to build a resource like this for a school using WordPress – yet how many schools have done this? I could have built Joeys something like this in the wink of an eye – but of course, that’s just not the way it happens in schools. We had other initiatives underway!
But the question is – what does it take to create a whole-school response to Digital Citizenship? What it takes is a Principal with vision, and determination to break through traditional structures to get where we need to go. This is why is was wonderful to read that Darcy Moore has such a Principal.
For the first time in 20 years I do not have English classes to teach. The principal has requested that I am ‘off the timetable’ and work with all students on digital citizenship and creating a Personal Learning Environment (PLE) or, if you prefer, Personal Learning Network (PLN). This is another small step towards creating an environment at our school where student learning is personalised with the internet in mind.
What Darcy describes as a ‘small step’ would seem to me to be a significant step, given the cost in time and staffing. I would like to find other schools that have taken bold steps to ‘go where no-one has gone before‘. This is a new frontier that must be explored, with conections made and tamed, so that working with digital citizenship it is no longer seen as being groundbreaking. How long will it take before digital citizenship just becomes citizenship?
A final report from the Learning with New Media research group at Monash University’s Faculty of Education was recently released. This report, called Teenagers, Legal Risks and Social Networking Sites provides an outstanding analysis of some the issues involved.
The research findings of this project confirm that SNS usage is now playing an important role in the lives of Victorian middle school students, including in socialisation and identity formation. In fact, SNS use has become integrated into the everyday social lives of most Victorian middle school students.
The final words of the report urge:
There is a need for further research directed at understanding young people’s use of SNS and how they can better be empowered to be confident and safer digital citizens. There is also a significant need to further work to be done to assist teachers to be better equipped to understand their rights and responsibilities in the digital communication environment.
We have a way to go!
Join us in the journey. Become proactive in your use of digital environments, and urge your school to explore and engage in these environments more (rather than shutting them down).
As a result of my work with our Digital Citizenship course at uni we now have two ongoing resources that readers may like to tap into and help to build.
Find us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/DigitalCitizenshipInSchools
Find us at Diigo http://groups.diigo.com/group/digital-citizenship-in-schools
- Teenagers, Legal Risks and Social Networking Sites (jennylu.wordpress.com)
- “The Master Switch”, digital citizenship, and WWIC (artichoke.typepad.com)
- What Would You Say? Thoughts on Global Citizenship (fly4change.com)
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A more comprehensive approach to info fluency/digital citizenship is an idea/concept we have been ‘growing’ at our high school library. The idea of a whole school learning community is beginning to grow at a school level too so the time is ripe.
I’ve started a concept map in the hope of identifying then working to meet the needs of our major stakeholders. Access to info via log-in pages through school moodles/ultranets/intranets and links to links I believe have caused access problems in the past. The idea of a central online page for the community with quick, easy access is my priority at this planning stage. Nice too see what others are bringing to fruition.
Thanks to all for their generous sharing of ideas and to you too, Judy for making them available.
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Good thought – often my intention is inadequately expressed due to a lack of terminology. Either mine or generally acceptable definition. (most usually mine :o) So the fluency is intended but I hadn’t used that term. Thanks.
Mostly due to a real lack of face time with the students I’m opting to have a run through (input to the course came from many sources) then once I have a grounding open it up to more consideration by others. From there I hope it will become mainstream – and included as an expected part of the student’s timetable.
Chris, I’ve peeked at what you are developing, and it’s great to see the material that will be covered. It would be lovely to see a stronger focus on information fluency embedded in there somewhere too – just to round off the whole approach. Hope the information professionals (teacher librarians) are involved in the development of your program. 😉
I have toyed with the idea of signing up for this unit, having found it during some research on compiling a digital citizenship course.
We are compiling a series of lessons (a course??) that hopefully will form a foundation for our Year 6 girls to take into Senior school and continue developing.
We want to cover the screamingly obvious:
Capacity to communicate via multiple online systems and know which one is best and when.
To have appropriate etiquette for the digital media they choose
The capacity to be digitally literate – to hold the capacity to read and write via digital media.
To not just have the capacity to participate in online societies but to be thought leaders in them and demonstrably good examples for others who perhaps do themselves no good service.
To appreciate and have cursory understanding of copyrights and associated laws. They are only children yet, but developing awareness makes for good citizenship as they grow up.
Above all else we want this to be majority hands on, creative and fun.
Would I get anything from the course that would help me in developing this?
I’d also love to hear from anyone else who had produced hands on lessons for Yr 6 girls that would support such a course.
I have an outline form which the lessons are developing here.
Glad to hear someone else is tackling this too.