Cross Post: Digital-citizenship is about more than safety #coetail


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Image by eGuidry use with an attribution licence from Flickr

Digital citizenship is a topic near and dear to my heart however it is often confused with digital safety. Don’t get me wrong, keeping safe and being nice is important.

Yes kids need to not hurt or humiliate other kids online, cyberbullying is horrible. But then bullying in real life isn’t much fun either.

Yes kids need to respect their own and other people’s privacy online. But then we also expect them not to gossip and spread lies about each other in real life.

Yes kids need to respect copyright and attribute correctly. But that’s been an issue for a lot longer than the internet has been common place, it’s just a lot easier to copy now.

Notice the problem isn’t the technology in and of itself, it’s the decisions being made by the people holding the devices. In reality it doesn’t really matter which platform or device the kids are using, those attitudes of respect, tolerance, integrity and honesty that we use in the primary years programme readily translate to the online world. As my friend and fellow COETAILer Rebekah Madrid points, out we need to attach ourselves to people, not apps.

Building onto Rebekah’s idea, I believe in we need to attach ourselves to guiding principles, not specific behaviours. I also believe that we do our students a huge disservice if we conceptualise digital citizenship as being merely being about keeping safe and being nice online.

Because real-life citizenship is about far more than keeping safe and being nice.

It’s about being active participants in shaping our society for the better and the internet has huge potential to enable kids to participate in society in a way that was unthinkable a generation ago.

Is it a lack of imagination that stops teachers from thinking beyond kids mitigating risk and really thinking about the potential the internet has to blur the lines between school and the ‘real world?’

I realised there was already a document out there that espouses what kind of people I hope my students will be by the time they leave school. The IBlearner profile; which aims to

develop internationally minded people who, recognizing their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world

Rather than re-invent the wheel, I thought I would conceptualise what the learner profile might look like within the digital context.

Image by author
Image by author

from Teaching the Teacher

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