Educators, Social Media and Networking: A Serendipitous Relationship

“We need, first, to take charge of our own learning, and next, help others take charge of their own learning. We need to move beyond the idea that an education is something that is provided for us, and toward the idea that an education is something that we create for ourselves. It is time, in other words, that we change our attitude toward learning and the educational system in general” (Downes, 2010, para 16).

The concept of socialisation in learning has long been acknowledged as essential to knowledge building and attainment in the field of education (Belbase, 2011, p.3; Cobb, 2005, p.41; Dewey, 1910; Perkins, 2009, p.7). In the Digital Age, as educators and students alike begin to favour models of connected learning over the static environment of the traditional classroom, socialisation in learning has begun to establish itself through the use of social media and networking applications, “a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content” (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010, pp. 61). These innovations and technological developments that allow for online collaboration and socialisation, enable us to expand our knowledge-building ecosystems and move away from the concept of the classroom teacher as the owner of all knowledge and information (Pink as citied in Bingham & Conner, 2010, loc. 177).

Moving away from traditional model of learning where the teacher acts as holder of all knowledge to a social, networked approach to learning where all participants are part of the learning process (Grout, 2013).

Moving away from traditional model of learning where the teacher acts as holder of all knowledge to a social, networked approach to learning where all participants are part of the learning process (Grout, 2013).

Thus as educators, whether we like it or not, we must embrace social media and networking within our own learning ecologies so that we can extend these learning opportunities to our students of the Digital Age. Just as businesses of the twenty-first century have been forced to up-skill and transform their business models to avoid losing currency, educators cannot ignore the pull of social media and networking to meet the natural drive of socialisation as these emerging technologies, “allow us to embrace the needs of changing workplace demographics and enable people of all ages to learn in ways that are comfortable and convenient for them” (Bingham & Conner, 2010, loc. 184). In echoing the sentiment of Downes when he suggests we must first take charge of our learning before assisting others with their learning, the time has come for educators to embrace social media and networking in their own learning so that they can benefit from, participate in and model this learning for both their peers and their students (2010, para. 16). Whereas traditional education has taught us that learning only happens in the classroom, the rise of social media and networking has proven that learning happens in a variety of ways and places beyond the classroom, opening doors for citizens in the digital age to be, “more effective, more knowledgeable, more energised, and more efficient as professional educators,” and ultimately, as learners (Whitaker, Zoul & Casas, 2015, loc. 205).

Opening the door to learning beyond the classroom (Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest, 2015).

Opening the door to learning beyond the classroom (Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest, 2015).

As Perkins suggests in Futurewise: Educating Our Children For A Changing World, We must consider what constitutes our learning ecology and ‘go beyond’ the world of traditional education to ensure our students are prepared for learning that is ‘lifeworthy’ – “likely to matter in the lives learners are likely to live” (2014, loc 395), and ‘lifeready’ -“ready to pop up on appropriate occasions and help make sense of the world” (2014, loc 694). This learning will only be possible when we consider learning collectives in networked environments, rather than learning in our traditional hierarchal classrooms (Schravemade, 2015, para. 4).

What is different about teaching and learning using social media and networking is that we are working in environments that we cannot control. The traditional learning relationships we had with our peers and students took place in physical environments, however in the digital age, they are happening in front of an audience we cannot monitor, mandate or select. The notion of connected learning is not one we can learn from a textbook, it involves educators stepping out of their comfort zone and, not only reading or viewing the work of students, but adopting a mindset that places them in the position of learner as they participate in the processes involved with, not only their individual learning, but also that of their peers and students (Whitaker et al., 2015, loc. 248). If, “social learning happens using social media tools and through extended access and conversations with all our connections – in our workplaces, our communities, and online. It happens when we keep the conversation going on a blog rich with comments, through coaching and mentoring, or even during a workout at the gym,” as Bingham and Conner suggest in The New Social Learning: A Guide to Transforming Organizations Through Social Media, then we as educators must ourselves be comfortable with and understand how to participate in such environments (2010, loc. 340).

This is where teaching and learning using social media and networking constitutes a serendipitous relationship with educators. Piaget asserted that, “cognitive conflict created by social interaction is the locus at which the power driving intellectual development is generated” (Perret-Clermont, 1980, p. 12). In this sense, cognition is a collaborative process, and the mind of the learner creates meaning, knowledge and understanding through dialogue, interaction and conversation with others (Ernest, 1995). Research such as that by Bell, Grossen and Perret-Clermont (1985) affirms this social practice, as they assert that students who are actively engaged in working with their peers display greater cognitive growth than those working alone. This promotes the idea that, “personal experiences of individuals become social and collective experiences when they are shared, interacted, and retained as knowledge” (Belbase, 2011, p.3). It is essential then, that as educators we examine how our pedagogy encourages students to participate and be guided by others in their learning. In the twenty-first century, we must embrace trends in technological development such as social media and networking to provide learning experiences reflective of the Digital Age. It becomes innate for educators to continue their serendipitous relationship with socialisation in learning through the participatory culture that is social media and networking.

In the video below, Helen Haste articulates the collaborative nature of information gathering and knowledge development in the twenty-first century (2009).

Social media and networking present the perfect platforms to encourage collaborative an co-operative perspectives through technology use. It is our role as educators to embrace these in our learning so that we can model, participate in and extend this opportunity to our students. The first step in this process as educators is to become digital citizens and connected learners ourselves, so that we can effectively and successfully extend this opportunity to our students. The interactive infographic ‘Getting Started With Digital Citizenship: Social Media and Networking’ shared in a previous post  provides a bank of resources for educators to use as a guide when they begin their journey as connected learners, exploring digital citizenship through social media and networking.

Reference List

Belbase, S. (2011). Radical versus social constructivism: dilemma, dialogue, and defense [Online Submission]. Retrieved from ERIC database. (ED525159).

Bell, N. Grossen, M. Perret-Clermont, A.N. (1985). Sociocognitive conflict and intellectual growth. In M.W. Berkowitz (Ed.), Peer conflict and psychological growth. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Bingham, T., & Conner, M. (2010). The new social learning: A guide to transforming organizations through social media [Kindle edition]. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/The-New-Social-Learning-Organizations/dp/1605097020

Cobb, P. (2005). Where is the mind? A coordination of sociocultural and cognitive constructivist perspectives. In C. Twomey Fosnot (Ed.), Constructivism: theory, perspectives and practice (2nd Ed.). New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Dewey, J. (1910). How we think. Boston: DC Heath.

Downes, S. (2010). A world to change. Huffpost Education. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-downes/a-world-to-change_b_762738.html

Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. (2015). Open white door floating plaster wall [Photography]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest http://quest.eb.com/search/165_3338382/1/165_3338382/cite

Ernest, P. (1995). The one and the many. In L. P Steffe & J. Gale (Eds.), Constructivism in education (pp. 459-486). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Grout, M. (2013). Teaching strategies [Image]. Retrieved from https://prezi.com/y28yncf_uu4b/teaching-strategies/

Haste, H. (2009, June 25). Technology and youth: rethinking the landscape of education (part 4 of 4) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZt9rEnAvew

Kaplan, A. M., & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of social media. Business Horizons, 53(1), 59–68. doi:10.1016/j.bushor.2009.09.003

Perkins, D. N. (2009). Making learning whole: How seven principles of teaching can transform education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Perkins, D. (2014). Future wise: Educating our children for a changing world [Kindle edition]. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/Future-Wise-Educating-Children-Changing/dp/1118844084

Perret-Clermont, A. N. (1980). Social interaction and cognitive development in children. Academic Press.

Schravemade, K. (2015, March 29). ‘Lifeready’ and ‘Lifeworthy’ learning: go beyond the traditional [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://theprivateteacher.wordpress.com/2015/03/29/lifeready-and-lifeworthy-learning-going-beyond-the-traditional/

Whitaker, T., Zoul, J., & Casa, J. (2015). What connected educators do differently [Kindle edition]. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/What-Connected-Educators-Do-Differently-ebook/dp/B00ULQN564/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1428829250

Digital Citizenship just as important as Social Media Policies when considering Online Behaviours

footprint

There is no doubt that considering how Social Media is used by ALL members of a school community (students, staff, parents) is essential in our digital age.  Often, we may find that staff can be just as prone to misusing (either intentionally or unintentionally) social media as students.  While many organisations are drafting policies to cater for the use of social media by their representatives, I believe, particular in schools, that we must begin with educating community members about Digital Citizenship in conjunction with any policy creation regarding online behaviours.

I was at a BBQ last week and the ideas of teaching Digital Citizenship and using Social Media in class were mentioned.  I was interested that many attendees scoffed at the idea of teaching this in schools and believed that this was something of a joke, with one person commenting that, “no one ever taught us to socialise at school and we turned out just fine”, and another suggesting that, “if schools didn’t encourage their students to be online they wouldn’t have a problem”.  Unfortunately, I think many parents have this same mindset when it comes to Digital Citizenship and Social Media, often believing that whatever will happen online will happen, regardless of what they are taught, or, they won’t have  a problem if they prohibit their children from being online.

This Science Friday podcast provides some real insight into the ‘why’ behind teaching Digital Citizenship in schools, as it suggests that teenagers have always needed to learn how to control social situations and being online should be no different.  We have always focused on ‘personal development’ in schools where we have modelled appropriate behaviours in social situations, we shouldn’t ignore that much of this socialisation has now moved beyond physical situations to online situations. Thus, I believe that as educators it is our responsibility to create awareness of what it means to be a digital citizen and model this behaviour, not only for our students, but also for their parents, our peers and wider community.

One thing we often overlook when we consider Digital Citizenship, is that we are not only teaching students how to be appropriate in their socialisation online, we are also teaching them how to be ethical and legal online.  It is essential for people to realise that as soon as they post something online they are becoming both a copyright holder and  publisher, hence, they need to consider how they are branding themselves personally and professionally.  In the video below, Barry Britt discusses the importance of students and teachers understanding the impact that their interactions and posts online can have on their personal and professional profiles.  Essentially, he suggests that we need to ensure both students and teachers have the knowledge to make decisions about branding rights.

Another important consideration concerning Digital Citizenship is catering for ‘context collapse’.  In her book It’s Complicated, Danah Boyd asserts that teenagers today are not doing anything different to what they have always done; the problem with the emergence of social media is that now the whole world can see how they are socialising.  Thus, they need to be aware of ‘context collapse’ – if they don’t  understand the context in which they are operating  online, their behaviour will often be misrepresented.  A teacher mentioned to me the other day that she was annoyed students had started following her on Twitter as she wanted to use it as a personal account.  This is a perfect example of ‘context collapse’  as this teacher obviously didn’t understand the social context around Twitter, highlighting the growing need for awareness around Digital Citizenship and the use of social media.

Digital Citizenship involves accepting that we need to interact online and brand and promote ourselves in a positive manner.  We must accept that we need to learn to control our social situations online, just as much as we do in a physical setting. Thus, if we begin a Digital Citizenship education in conjunction to creating policy around Social Media use, we may find that community members are more aware of and informed of acceptable online behaviours.

A Reading List for Digital Citizenship in Secondary Schools

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A recent university assignment investigating Digital Citizenship in Education studied in the Masters course, Knowledge networks and digital innovation, being studied through Charles Sturt University (CSU) required students to assess digital citizenship needs within their school environments and make recommendations for future directions. One element of the task was to prepare an annotated bibliography of essential reading for college leadership teams. This is the bibliography prepared by Helen Stower and myself.  It contains some excellent resources for anyone considering digital citizenship priorities for secondary schools.

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2015). General capabilities in the Australian curriculum. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/generalcapabilities/overview/general-capabilities-in-the-australian-curriculum

When considering the policy and procedures needed for a DLE, it is imperative to consider the concept of digital citizenship and how this will be managed and taught within the school in question, as this will directly influence the behaviour of staff and students online. The transition from analogue to digital classrooms places great pressure on educators to be aware of the behaviours of their students in digital and globally connected environments and, while constant monitoring of these behaviours is almost impossible, providing them with guidelines and models of how to interact in such environments will assist them in having successful learning experiences online. Consequently, it is imperative that educators and administrators become familiar with the General Capabilities of the Australian Curriculum as they provide insight into how aspects of digital citizenship can be incorporated across disciplines in a school environment. On this website, beyond the obvious links to digital citizenship and technology use in the ICT Capability, reading the information associated with the capabilities of Ethical Behaviour, Personal and Social Competence and Intercultural Understanding are of particular worth, as they have considerable implications for digital citizenship. The social nature of DLEs in online environments is relevant to the capability of Ethical Behaviour as students must ensure they are aware of the impact their behaviours can have on others and manage this accordingly. This also has relevance to the capabilities of Intercultural Understanding and Personal and Social Competence as students become aware of the differences between cultures in a DLE and be able to act appropriately and ethically in response to this. The General Capabilities must be considered when preparing policy and procedures for a DLE as teachers in Australia are expected to address and assess these across all learning areas.

Crockett, L., Jukes, I., & Churches, A. (2011). Literacy is not enough: 21st century fluencies for the digital age. Kelowna, B.C.: 21st Century Fluency Project.

Literacy is not enough: 21st century fluencies for the digital age focuses on identifying the learning environments necessary to facilitate digital learning and methods for implementing these. The authors, Lee Crockett, Ian Jukes and Andrew Churches have authored and co-authored several books, articles and blogs that focus on educating students to thrive in a time of exponential change. The central argument of this book is that the information landscapes of the 21st century require a shift in the way we teach and evaluate learning. The purpose of this book is to provide an impetus to initiate change and is best used to stimulate questions that challenge traditional pedagogical methods and structures with a focus on relevancy for contemporary learning. The first three chapters build the authors’ argument and the remaining chapters outline a core set of ‘fluencies’ (solution fluency, information fluency, creativity fluency, media fluency, collaboration fluency and global digital citizenship) and provide tools for teachers to use in order to develop lesson plans, create assessment tools and reflect upon professional practice.

Hollandsworth, R., Dowdy, L., & Donovan, J. (2011). Digital citizenship in K-12: It takes a village. TechTrends, 55(4), 37-48. Retrieved March 28, 2015.

Providing an overview of the issues schools need to consider as they set in place the policies and procedures necessary to establish a digital learning environment must address digital citizenship. The article, Digital citizenship in K-12: It takes a village, argues that student guidance in this area is essential in order to develop a society that is, “defined by effective attitudes and practices in digital decision making, ethical and legal issues, online safety, customer security, consumer security, and technology related health issues” (p.37). The authors qualifications in the field of education and a significant reference list are provided to validate the reliability of their research. The strength of this article is that it articulates all of the stakeholders involved in establishing a shared vision for digital learning priorities in schools. The article also provides evidence of the need to embed digital citizenship into curriculum and suggested methods for achieving this. It repeatedly argues that administrators and teachers need to be role models of digital citizenship as it is impossible to understand the behaviours and mindsets associated with online engagement unless they themselves are participants in the digital world, and this makes it a worthwhile read for college leadership teams.

International Society for Technology in Education. (2015). ISTE Standards. Retrieved May 14, 2015, from http://www.iste.org/standards/iste-standards

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) provide a set of standards that are useful guidelines for the skills, knowledge and processes needed by students, teachers, administrators, coaches and computer science educators to succeed in the digital age. These standards were developed between 2007 and 2011 and are a very good framework for best practice strategies and an essential resource for establishing digital learning environments. ISTE’s goal is to, “empower all learners in a connected world” and they provide an international conference, website resources, and professional learning communities to achieve their vision. The standards are accessed via the ISTE website, where educators can find connected resources such as the Essential conditionsfor technology integration and Standards in action which are examples of educators enacting the standards in classroom settings. ISTE’s work is based on peer-reviewed research on effective learning and teaching with technology and is edited by people with expertise in the field of education.

Jenkins, H., Clinton, K., Purushotma, R., Robison, A. J., & Weigel, M. (2006). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century [White paper]. Retrieved from MacArthur Foundation website http://digitallearning.macfound.org/atf/cf/%7B7E45C7E0-A3E0-4B89-AC9C-E807E1B0AE4E%7D/JENKINS_WHITE_PAPER.PDF.

Sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation, Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century, investigates the roles of schools in helping students acquire the skills they need to become full participants in society. The key argument of this paper is that the digital divide between those who will succeed in twenty-first (21st) century futures and those that will be left behind is determined not by access to technology but by access to opportunities to participate and develop the cultural competencies and social skills necessary in new media landscapes. The paper is thoroughly referenced and the principal author is Henry Jenkins, the Director of Comparative Media Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Executive Summary of the paper provides a succinct overview of why schools require policy and pedagogy shifts to focus on building participatory cultures. The remainder of the paper provides explanations of each of the skills required for participation and strategies for building these new media literacies.

Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., & Freeman, A. (2014). NMC horizon report: 2014 K-12 edition. Retrieved from New Media Consortium website http://cdn.nmc.org/media/2014-nmc-horizon-report-k12-EN.pdf

Perhaps one of the most valuable resources for administrators and educators considering the implementation of Digital Learning Environments, the New Media Consortium Horizon Report: 2014 K-12 edition, provides a well-researched overview of emerging technologies likely to impact teaching and learning in schools over a five year period. This report covers the three main areas of: key trends, significant challenges and important developments predicted.   Crucial considerations for the digital age, such as rethinking the role of teachers, the safety of student data and hybrid learning designs are discussed in depth throughout this report and curated links to further reading and practical examples of how these concepts are applied to school settings are given for each area. What is also unique about the Horizon Report is that all of the background materials involved in the report, including research data and preliminary selections, can be downloaded for free on iTunes U. Often as educators we are exposed to research about new technology and pedagogical trends with little evidence of how they may impact our policies and practice, however refreshingly, the Horizon Report discusses the implications for policy, leadership and practice for each of the trends identified. When considering the policies and procedures necessary for a DLE, this report provides essential reading as it provides insight into thetechnology, skills and support that will be needed to remain current in teaching and learning in the digital age.

Ribble, M. (2011). Digital Citizenship in Schools : Nine Elements All Students Should Know (2nd Edition). Eugene, OR, USA: ISTE. Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com

Digital Citizenship in Schools: Nine Elements All Students Should Know is the work of Mike Ribble and offers an overview of the behaviours, mindsets and skills necessary for successful participation in a digital society. Following this overview, Ribble provides a framework and lesson guides for schools developing digital learning environments that necessitate digital citizenship education. For the purposes of this research task, Section 3: Creating a digital citizenship program is particularly useful for identifying the digital learning issues affecting education. The structure of the book allows easy access for educators to use sections and chapters on an‘as needs’ basis, and as such, provides a useful reference source. Ribble’s qualifications support the reliability of this source and include: the attainment of a Doctor of Education, authoring a number of works (books and journal articles) on digital citizenship education published by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and a position as District Director of Technology. Chapter 2: the nine elements of digital citizenship is recommended for school leadership teams to become familiar with the areas encompassed in responsible, appropriate behaviour with regards to technology use.

School Technology Branch, Alberta Education. (2012). Digital citizenship policy development guide. Retrieved from Alberta Education website http://education.alberta.ca/media/6735100/digital%20citizenship%20policy%20development%20guide.pdf

The Digital Citizenship Policy Development Guide published by Alberta Education acts as a guide for educators and administrators who are looking to establish a digital citizenship policy within their institution. Structured around Ribble’s research on digital citizenship, this document provides an overview of digital citizenship policies and practices while drawing from relevant school-based research. Although set in an American context with examples taken from schools in Alberta, the structuring of this guide around Ribble’s Nine (9) Elements of Digital Citizenship makes it relevant to educational institutions universally. The key purpose of this guide is to provide guidance in policy development to ensure the protection of students working in digital learning environments. While the introduction of this publication alone is essential reading in its definition and explanation of the relevance of digital citizenship in schools, each one of the nine (9) elements of digital citizenship are explored in relation to student and educator considerations, organisational requirements and policy considerations through Chapter Four (4). Although the laws discussed in this resource are applicable only to readers in Alberta, the application of digital citizenship policy to these laws provides brilliant precedent and discussions that could be applied to any educational organisation, regardless of its location. This resource is an excellent starting point for readers investigating policies and procedures applicable to Digital Learning Environments as it links relevant twenty-first (21st) century learning standards such as the ISTE NETs for students, teachers and administrators to digital citizenship frameworks. Of particular relevance to education administrators looking to create policies and procedures relevant to DLEs, is Chapter Five (5) Digital Citizenship Process and A Road Map, which draws together policy, outcomes, leadership and stakeholder involvement. The Digital Citizenship Policy Development Guide was particularly useful when conducting this environmental scan report as it assisted in modelling how frameworks and research can be mapped to establish relevant policy and discussed issues that may be pertinent to a DLE, such as cloud computing and Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT).

West, M., & Vosloo, S. (2013). UNESCO policy guidelines for mobile learning. Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002196/219641e.pdf

Developed in consultation with education experts from a range of over twenty countries, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Policy Guidelines for Mobile Learning provides essential guidelines related to embedding ICTs in school policies and procedures. Aimed particularly at policy-makers and administrators, the document recognises that all new policies within a school must consider the opportunities afforded by mobile technology and digital environments. Thus, these guidelines assist readers in understanding the benefits of mobile and digital technology and how they can be incorporated to improve teaching and learning. The chapter entitled Policy Guidelines for Mobile Learning starting on page twenty-nine (29) of the report, assists administrators and policy-makers in understanding and taking-action to include mobile learning in their policies and procedures, including areas such as teacher training and support, optimising educational experiences for students and advocating for safe, responsible and healthy use of mobile technologies. This section also highlights practices that should be examined, avoided and provided in policies and procedures, allowing educators to consider how this would affect a DLE in their own school environment. Therefore, this document is integral reading when considering the policies and procedures needed for a DLE in a school environment.

Zellweger Moser, F. (2007). Faculty adoption of educational technology.Educause Quarterly, 30(1), 66-69. Retrieved from https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/EQM07111.pdf

Zellweger Moser’s research entitled Faculty Adoption of Education Technology provides an in-depth examination of the ways in which technological support provided by the employing institution can influence teaching staff when integrating technology in their teaching and learning. Although Zellweger Moser’s research was undertaken in higher education facilities, it includes several considerations applicable to teaching staff in both primary and secondary environments. Figure One (1) entitled, Faculty Educational Technology Adoption Cycle on page sixty-six (66), is an adoption cycle proposed by the author that incorporates factors such as time commitment, competence development and student feedback that are likely to impact upon teacher adoption of technology use and digital environment s. On page sixty-eight (68) of the document Table One (1)Negative Educational Technology Adoption Scenario and Figure Two (2) Faculty eLearning Behaviour and Support, address the issues identified in this environmental scan report of staff preparedness and buy-in and the role of senior and middle management in supporting a DLE. Zellweger Moser’s finding that level of support given to teaching staff when adopting technology and DLEs significantly influences the success of such initiatives cannot be ignored in the policies and procedures of an intended DLE.

Image Attribution

Nominalize, Social Media Blocks Blogger Linkedin Facebook, Public Domain

Who ‘Owns’ Digital Citizenship?

pointingfinger

Secondary educators are big on ownership.  We all ‘own’ our particular specialty, role or discipline and it becomes difficult for us to fathom stepping outside of this.  We know where to go or who to see when we need something.  For example, we have  Curriculum Leaders who ‘own’ their specialist discipline, Librarians who ‘own’ information access, and Deputy Principals who ‘own’ student behaviour and learning directions. Of course, what I mean by ownership is managing, leading or taking responsibility for a particular area within the school.

Early definitions of Digital Citizenship were quick to attribute ownership of the concept to technology specialists such as eLearning Managers and Instructional Designers, and this is understandable when we take the work of those such as Ribble, who prescribed Digital Citizenship as, “a concept, which helps teachers, technology leaders, and parents to understand what students/children/technology users should know to use technology appropriately” (2010, p.1). In 2015 however, the concept of Digital Citizenship has evolved so much that technology use forms just one part of it, we must also consider the need for digital citizens to integrate the use  of technology seamlessly and effectively as part of their learning ecology. This then involves digital citizens being digitally literate,  participatory, collaborative and able to master the unknown as it presents itself.    Subsequently, if we refer to Digital Citizenship as digitally belonging to, benefiting from and participating in a collective where certain rights and responsibilities need to be upheld, it becomes clear that, apart from the physical and digital realms, there is no real difference between civil or digital citizenship.  Thus, the responsibility or ownership of Digital Citizenship in our school settings becomes problematic which raises cause for concern, particularly in our current climate where we are educating students in a world that dictates digital participation as  a prerequisite for successful advancement in society.

The problem seems to lie in the fact that many educators believe Digital Citizenship education involves providing students with the knowledge and skills to interact and engage in digital learning environments.  My questions is, how can we do this adequately as educators, if we do not hold this same knowledge and ability?  The answer is that we can’t.  If we are to teach Digital Citizenship to our students, this involves also, “transforming [ourselves] into professional[s] who can effectively research technology trends, monitor the uses of technology, avoid the fear factor and model legal wisdom, in order to make vibrant learning opportunities for all” (Lindsay, 2014). Thus, while  the responsibility for Digital Citizenship in schools may have initially been seen as one for media specialists or eLearning managers, it becomes apparent that this will be ineffective if the ownership falls to these departments alone.  Each individual educator must take responsibility for owning, modelling and practicing Digital Citizenship so that they can participate as active citizens in our digital world.

This is why we can’t place the ownership of Digital Citizenship on one particular faculty in our schools, all educators are obliged to take control of this in their professional practice and teaching and learning.  In their article Informal Learning and Identity Formation in Online Social Networks, Greenhow and Robelia suggest that while our students are more than able to use, participate in and master online applications such as social networking sites, they were both unaware of and lacking in the ethical and legal knowledge needed to understand interactions on these sites (2009, p.135). Alarmingly, Greenhow and Robelia  suggest that, “such ill-formed and only partial understandings of [students] rights and responsibilities in semipublic online spaces, especially with respect to legal issues of copyright and fair use, mirror the lack of understanding on the part of educators who are supposed to model digital citizenship behaviours” (2009, p.135). Similarly, Lindsay and Davis assert that often digital citizenship becomes problematic when individual teachers lack the understanding and skills necessary to integrate and utilise technology effectively in their own practice, leading to a climate where, “respect for student ability to manage and improve their digital citizenship is not always present, sometimes due to an inability of the teacher to manage and understand his or her own online and digital life in a rapidly changing world” (2013, p.111).

Digital Citizenship is a concept that reaches across disciplines, contexts and ability-levels and one that is equally as important for educators as it is for students.  Consequently, we can’t expect our students to be successful digital citizens, if we do not take ownership of it personally, and model and practice it in our own learning ecologies.  Digital Citizenship must be ‘owned’ by every educator of the twenty-first century – not just those of us who are ‘technologically able’.

Reference List

A young man pointing finger. [Photography]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest.
http://quest.eb.com/search/115_3953868/1/115_3953868/cite

Greenhow, C., & Robelia, B. (2009).  Informal learning and identity formation in online social networks.   Learning, Media and Technology, 34(20), 119-140.  doi: 10.1080/17439880902923580

Lindsay, J.  (2005).  ETL523 Digital citizenship in schools: Module 1.2 [course materials].  Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-270076-dt-content-rid-635861_1/courses/S-ETL523_201530_W_D/module1/1_2_Dig_citizen_educators.html

Lindsay, J., & Davis, V. A. (2013).  Flattening classrooms, engaging minds: move to global collaboration one step at a time.  Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon Publishers.

Ribble, M. (2010) Welcome to the digital citizenship website. Retrieved from http:// http://www.digitalcitizenship.net

Digital Citizenship 3.0: More than Cybersafety

Constantly in the media we hear news  about the ill-effects of students using the Internet, Digital Environments and Social Media and debates are raised regarding the appropriateness of this in school settings.  Often what follows are movements that push for cyber-safety programs in the hope that these programs will teach our students to use online environments effectively. What is often overlooked, is that teaching cyber-safety in isolation will only cover one aspect of students’ participation in online environments.  To ensure they are able to exist successfully in the twenty-first century environment, we need to consider the bigger picture – digital citizenship.

What is Digital Citizenship?

Ribble, Bailey and Ross refer to digital citizenship as the ‘norms of behaviour’ associated with technology use, referring to the use, abuse and misuse technology fitting into nine main categories as listed in the image below (2004, p.24).

9elementsofdigcit

What I love about this definition of digital citizenship is that it covers all of our interactions online, not just the negative ones. This, I believe, is realistic.  If we simply taught cybersafety and only highlighted the negative things that happened in digital environments, this would be the only exposure our students had to behaviour in digital environments.  By provided digital citizenships programs that model appropriate behaviour, we are setting our students up with clear examples and expectations of the behaviour we want to see online. Effectively, we should approach the behaviour of students online no differently than we do their behaviour in physical environments.

What should we focus on?

While the message of digital citizenship is beginning to filter through, with many schools adopting programs that focus on modelling and establishing positive behaviour online, the 2013 study by Gfk bluemoon for the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) entitled, ‘Like, post, share: Young Australians’ experience of social media’, suggests that we must now focus on how to make students aware that their actions online are permanent, and not easily erased. The concept of a digital footprint is something that students find difficult to grasp, as the future seems such a long way away.   digital footprint yellow new fontAs adults however, we know that what students put online will increasingly affect their job opportunities in the future, as employers can find inappropriate comments, images and interactions with a simple Google search.  This emphasises the need for us, as educators, to provide students with real-life examples of positive and negative footprints and model digital footprints through our own actions online, particularly with the emergence of mobile social networking and geo-spatial tagging. For example, I often ‘Google’ myself with students to demonstrate how we can manipulate the information about us online in a positive manner.  In my belief, this is just as essential as being aware of cyber safety and responsible behaviours.

Here’s Why YOU Matter..

Interestingly, the ACMA study found that many students model the online behaviours of their parents and older siblings. While many parents believe they are supervising the behaviours of their children online, often this is limited to managing the time they spend online, not the content they are accessing.  Also, parents believe that it is adequate to monitor their child’s interactions online through ‘friending’ them on Facebook,  completely unaware that children report all of the important online interactions happen through  chat and private messaging.  The ACMA study also indicated that students are more likely to take greater risks online if their older siblings are active online, without the maturity to realise the consequences of their behaviour.  Similarly, if classroom teachers are not modelling positive Digital Citizenship in class, students are less likely to believe that they should be good digital citizens.   This refers back to the difference between education and modelling.  My concern is that we can spend time in school teaching and modelling appropriate online behaviours, but parents, other teachers and the wider community have limited awareness of Digital Citizenship and thus, aren’t modelling these behaviours to the students.  This provides a disconnect between what students are learning in school and what is actually happening in the ‘real world’. Hence, the ACMA findings that students are often aware of what constitutes appropriate behaviour but ignore their learnings in favour of partaking in behaviours that ‘everyone else is’, make perfect sense. Understandably, students are less likely to heed advice from parents or teachers who aren’t ‘tech savvy’.

Digital Citizenship is not only for students!

Last year I was invited to a class to teach the students about Twitter and set them up with their own accounts as part of their PLN (Professional Learning Network). After guiding the students through the process and discussing who they should follow to assist them in their learning, I asked the classroom teacher to call her Twitter handle out for the class. The  particular teacher was very quick to inform them that her Twitter was for ‘personal’ use only and that they shouldn’t, under any circumstances be following her online.  And, there is the disconnect. As educators we must be prepared to model and engage in the same behaviours online that we expect from our students.  This means, knowing how applications works, understanding the terms and conditions of each program as well as the privacy implications of using this tool.  Again, we are drawn back to the thought that our behaviours in the physical environment, in this case our classrooms, should be no different to the behaviours we exhibit online.  If we want out students to be effective digital citizens, we ourselves need to be effective digital citizens.

Community responsibility

So, in schools, we need to focus on developing digital citizenship as a community.  We must be aware of the impact our behaviour and knowledge about online environments has on our students.  Our professional development programs must be inclusive of staff, parents and the wider community, not just students.  And essentially,what it all boils down to is, we must practice what we preach. Digital citizenship is clearly more than cybersafety, consider the role you can play as an educator, parent or community member in building and enhancing the positive behaviour of your students online.

Reference List

Gfk bluemoon for the Australian Communications and Media Authority. 2013.  Like, post, share: young Australians’ experience of social media.  Retrieved from http://www.cybersmart.gov.au/About%20Cybersmart/Research/~/media/Cybersmart/About%20Cybersmart/Documents/GfK%20Blue%20Moon%20Qualitative%20Like%20Post%20Share%20%20final%20PDF.pdf

Ribble, M. S., Bailey, G. D., & Ross, T. W. (2004). Digital citizenship.  Education Horizons, 8(3), 25-27. Retrieved from http://search.informit.com.au.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/fullText;dn=140679;res=AEIPT

Digital Citizenship: The Bigger Picture

Bodies in Motion

Paul Stevenson, ‘Bodies in motion’, CC O

 

The 2011 study by Gfk bluemoon for the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) entitled, ‘Like, post, share: Young Australians’ experience of social media’ is a must read for all who are concerned with the education of Digital Citizenship in schools.  Although it is now 4 years old, this study raised some concerns for me regarding how we handle the concept of Digital Citizenship with our students.

The ACMA study highlighted 5 key concerns for me:

1. Many schools have identified the importance of educating students in Digital Citizenship and are beginning to  integrate Digital Citizenship into their curriculum or personal development programs.  This is a fantastic start, as creating awareness of Digital Citizenship is essential, however, what is often overlooked in these programs is the fact that there must be a tessellation between education and modelling. The more I teach and read about digital citizenship in the classroom, the more I am coming to terms with the fact that, in order to have an effective influence on your students, you need to be open to discussion and modelling around what you ‘preach’. The ACMA study discussed that often, students are quite well educated in cybersafety, the concern is more that they don’t put their knowledge into action when they witness or partake in risky behaviour.  By modelling Digital Citizenship for your students through having an active PLN, discussing personalised issues as they arise, and actively engaging students in your online behaviours, they will not only ‘know’ what is appropriate but also ‘see’ what is appropriate, challenging them to follow your lead.

2.  It’s all well and good for specialist teachers, such as Teacher-Librarians, to teach Digital Citizenship however, this isn’t effective unless the same lessons are followed up by classroom teachers and parents.  The ACMA study found that many students model the online behaviours of their parents and older siblings. While many parents believe they are supervising the behaviours of their children online, often this is limited to managing the time they spend online, not the content they are accessing.  Also, parents believe that it is adequate to monitor their child’s interactions online through ‘friending’ them on Facebook,  completely unaware that children report all of the important online interactions happen through  chat and private messaging.  The ACMA study also indicated that students are more likely to take greater risks online if their older siblings are active online, without the maturity to realise the consequences of their behaviour.  Similarly, if classroom teachers are not modelling positive Digital Citizenship in class, students are less likely to believe that they should be good digital citizens.   This refers back to the difference between education and modelling.  My concern is that we spend time in school teaching and modelling appropriate online behaviours, but parents and the wider community have limited awareness of Digital Citizenship and thus, aren’t modelling these behaviours to the students.  This provides a disconnect between what students are learning in school and what is actually happening in the ‘real world’. Hence, the ACMA findings that students are often aware of what constitutes appropriate behaviour but ignore their learnings in favour of partaking in behaviours that ‘everyone else is’, make perfect sense. Understandably, students are less likely to heed advice from parents or teachers who aren’t ‘tech savvy’.

3.  Following on from this, many students find that they ‘know it all’ when it comes to Digital Citizenship and online behaviours and the older they get, the less responsive they are to education programs.  What they need are relevant, engaging examples and discussions that they can relate to personally.  Consequently, enlisting the help of experts from the wider community who can demonstrate the effects of poor digital citizenship and risky online behaviours to students,  both in the short and long term, is much more effective than ‘preaching’.

4.  The biggest take away that students get from interacting online is feedback.  They ‘post’, ‘like’ and ‘comment’ on the things that they want others to see and do the same on.  For example, a student posting a ‘selfie’ on their page is clearly waiting for others to ‘like’ or give their feedback on the image, creating a need for the approval of their peers. This in itself creates a struggle for students as they build, negotiate and present their personality and identity through their online interactions.  The actions and identity of students are no longer confined to the physical environment.

5.  For me, the ACMA study reflected that educators are doing a great job in providing students with the information they need to be good Digital Citizens and behave responsibly online.  What we need to focus on now is how we make students aware that their actions online are permanent, and not easily erased. The concept of a digital footprint is something that students find difficult to grasp, as the future seems such a long way away.  What students put online will increasingly affect their job opportunities in the future, as employers find inappropriate comments, images and interactions with a simple Google search.  Again, we need to prove students with real-life examples of positive and negative footprints and model digital footprints through our own actions online, particularly with the emergence of mobile social networking and geo-spatial tagging. I often ‘Google’ myself with students to demonstrate how we can manipulate the information about us online in a positive manner.  This is just as essential as being aware of cyber safety and responsible behaviours.

We need to see the bigger picture in regards to Digital Citizenship.  Pushing information to students regarding digital citizenship is not enough.  To be effective we must be modelling and providing the connect between education and reality.