Digital citizenship is a hot topic right now. I guess it has been for about as long as we’ve been talking about ’21st century learning.’ Digital citizenship encompasses many topics and is an entire curriculum. But how many educators actually view it this way? Tim Childers helped inspire me to reflect on one mistake…maybe this is another one. Similar to at Tim’s school, I think there are a lot of students doing things that the teachers and admin don’t approve of with the iPads we’ve given them. But have we taught them any different? Are we assuming that students are going to do the “right” thing with technology when we haven’t taught them what that looks like? Are most teachers even digitally literate and know how to be a good digital citizen? I agree with Andrew Miller – “More and more, we’re hearing the term ‘Digital Citizenship.’ I think we should simply call it ‘Citizenship.'”
But then there’s the next problem…the digital world is always changing and adapting. How do we actually teach our students how to navigate it?
Not only are literacy standard and culturally specific, but they are constantly changing in tandem with technical changes and a rising bar of cultural sophistication. Following from this, it is problematic to develop a standardized or static set of benchmarks to measure kids’ levels of new media and technical literacy. (Living & Learning with New Media, page 38)
Sometimes we think that simply blocking sites is the answer. But then what are we actually teaching kids?
When kids lack access to the internet at home, and public schools and libraries block sites that are central to their social communication, youth are doubly handicapped in their efforts to participate in common culture and sociability. (Living & Learning with New Media, page 36)
When students make mistakes with technology (whether we have taught them how to behave or not), what consequences have we put in place? Is the solution just to take it away?
Simple prohibitions, technical barriers or time-limits on use are blunt instruments; youth perceive them as raw and ill-informed exercises of power. (Living & Learning with New Media, page 37)
Is not teaching students to be digital citizens at the root of all of this? What if we look back even further? If teachers see technology use in school as an extra, something special, then won’t the students see it that way as well? As George Couros put it, teachers need to understand the difference between “learning about technology” and “learning with technology.” Until educators and students alike learn how to learn WITH technology, we’ll have issues. Chris Lehmann‘s series on what technology must be really spoke to me. I want educators at my school to see technology as ubiquitous and invisible. My job is to help them do new things in new ways. I hope I’m up for the challenge and frustrations!