Sunday, September 26, 2010

Digital Citizenship: Whose Responsibility is it?

Don't complain if you're not prepared to do anything about it.
- Andy Cunningham

However uncommon it is to quote oneself when writing, it certainly fits into the topic of today's blog post. These are the words I uttered to my dad after listening to him whine and complain about his telephone issues (who still has a land-line anyway?) for a couple of days while refusing to try and figure out what the problem was. Einstein's definition of insanity may have been another applicable quote.

At the end of last week I attended a
Digital Citizenship Symposium that was put on by the CRCPD in Calgary. This symposium brought together educators from around the province to discuss issues of digital citizenship and the role the education system has in teaching our students how to become digital citizens. In fact, many conversations revolved around removing the word "digital" from the conversation, arguing that simply being a citizen in today's world involves understanding issues of internet privacy, safety, cyberbullying, copyright, and cyber commerce. A teacher librarian created 2 word clouds from wikipedia definitions to compare digital citizenship to citizenship. Below are the 2 word clouds:

You can see there are many similarities, most notably the words citizen, community and participation. There are many other words in the areas of education, information, and democracy.

As fans of technology, everyone at the symposium would argue for increased technology use in the classroom. However, there is also the understanding that many teachers are reluctant to utilize technology and the Internet for
fear of jeopardizing the safety of their students. While many of these fears are certainly real, they have been largely over-blown and sensationalized by national and international media.

While there are no definite answers, there seemed to be a growing consensus that the opportunity for educating students to be safe falls within the realm of education. As such, the first steps need to be educating all stakeholders - students, parents and teachers - about the actual risks, what to watch out for, as well as safe online habits.

What do you think? Whose responsibility is it?

In the coming weeks, I will be delving deeper into the topic of
digital citizenship in greater detail. Until then, here are some more resources to build your understanding of digital citizenship:

CBE's Digital Citizenship Page
Mr. Young's Bouncy A - Internet Safety Videos
Managing your "Digital Tattoo"