Who will you be online? This video offers a cute introduction to digital citizenship. Bully or protect? Safe or sorry? Credit or steal? The choices are clear, and it is what responsible citizens do in their everyday lives. Cyber bullying, in particular, has been a hot topic in the last decade. According to the Pew Internet report on “Teens, kindness and cruelty in social network sites”, certain groups have experienced more unkindness than others (teenage girls aged 12-13 and black teenagers), and even when they don’t encounter hostility, most teens know that the online world can be “crude”, “mean” and “fake” (Lenhart et al., 2011). Online harassment has been blamed for the suicide of many teens.
Schools are already teaching ethics and citizenship so that students can navigate the real world. It is time we start teaching digital citizenship, ideally from a young age, in order to guide students into reaching the NETS-S standards. I envision this happening first in higher education rather than in K-12 classrooms. A quick browse of Coursera’s online classes show some relevant courses: “E-learning and Digital Cultures“, “Securing Digital Democracy“, and “Networks: Friends, Money, and Bytes“.
(As a side note for those who don’t know, Coursera offers online higher education from world-wide recognized universities for free, in what is called “massive open online courses” or MOOCs. You can read more about it here!)
- Participation in online society, including use of digital commerce and exchange of information.
- Digital literacy, knowing when and how to use technology.
- Digital etiquette.
- Knowing technology law, rights and responsibilities.
- Monitoring your health and wellness as related to the mental and physical effects of technology use.
- Taking electronic precautions to guarantee safety.
These correlate nicely with the items that the fourth NETS-T standard advises educators to teach in order to promote digital citizenship.
Wagner’s inventory of skills that students need for the future is exactly the same as the list of NETS-S standards, except that the latter clearly spell out “digital citizenship” as a required proficiency while Wagner seems to gloss over it. His list includes problem-solving skills, collaboration, adaptability, initiative, effective communication, imagination, and accessing and analyzing information. Wagner stresses that learning should not only be based on content; teaching these skills is important too. When we think of digital citizenship, it is the same case: it’s not about the information, but about how we access it, how we use it, how we communicate it, and how we conduct ourselves online.
Lenhart, A., Madden, M., Smith, A., Purcell, K., Zickuhr, K., & Rainie, L. (2011). Teens, kindness and cruelty on social network sites. Pew Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Teens-and-social-media.aspx