As learners in the Digital Citizenship course at Lamar University, we examined the critical elements of digital citizenship. After defining digital citizenship and it's elements, we investigated the impact of digital footprints and technology access, identified issues with copyright, fair use, and cyberbullying.
In Digital citizenship in schools: Nine elements all students should know (2015), Mike Ribble identified and defined the nine elements of digital citizenship for students and categorized them under three principles.
The principles interrelate because they all play a role in improving outcomes in the learning community of the school and prepare students to become 21st century citizens, both digital and otherwise.
Examining digital citizenship in this manner allows educators to address each element while being aware of the interrelatedness and connection between them. The elements I find the most important are Digital Literacy and Digital Rights and Responsibilities because they inform all of the other elements: students and educators cannot achieve the rest without being accomplished in these two areas.
The iCitizen project, by Marialice Curran, was a collaborative digital citizenship project that required college freshmen and high school juniors to think critically and act creatively as they examined cyberbullying and redefined citizenship in the 21st century (Curran, 2012).The students defined an iCitizen as someone who is globally aware and connected, empathetic, and socially responsible, wanting to make the world a better place. The iCitizen believes in social justice, models socially responsibility, and takes action to protect and advocates for the rights of others around the world, both in person and digitally.
The iCitizen project reached the following conclusions:
1) Engaging K-12 and college students in iCitizenship is essential for 21st century learners
2) Empathy must be modeled and taught early and often
3) Learning is social. Social media must be a part of K-12 and college curriculum and instruction
4) Student focused project based learning (PBL) is important in K-12 and college classrooms
5) Learning is a two-way street: teachers and students need to model being both learners and teachers in the classroom.
I find it interesting, although not quite that surprising, that students who are part of the digital generation would think of learning as a social concept, and that social media must be incorporated into their curriculum and instruction. This is not really a new idea: Vygotsky’s social development theory was developed in the 1930’s and has influenced the educational field since then. However, the theories of social constructivism have a new relevance in the digital age: what is new is that we have technological tools that can enhance social connections, interaction and collaboration in ways that were not available to previous generations, and our students are digital natives immersed in the digital world, not knowing a life without it.
Technology has given learners access to an immense amount of information and gives them opportunities to practice 21st-century skills in communication, collaboration, knowledge sharing, critical thinking and use of technologies relevant to higher education and careers. This allows the traditional classroom to be transformed into a type of environment where the teacher is a learning facilitator within in a connected community of learners: an individual's knowledge and mastery can be constructed through his or her social interactions with the community.
We then examined the impact of technology on the way we live in the 21st century.
MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte takes you on a journey through the last 30 years of tech. The consummate predictor highlights interfaces and innovations he foresaw in the 1970s and 1980s that were scoffed at then but are ubiquitous today.
I found the quote above a very prescient and accurate description of the role of computers and computing in our lives today. Negroponte was trying to convey that the computer is no longer a device that you go and sit at at a certain time, and then turn off and continue to go about your day. Computers and computing are now completely integrated into our lives and we are interacting with them constantly through our various devices such as tablets, cellphones, smart speakers and wearable devices. AI breakthroughs I have read about in the technology media describe computing becoming more context aware as it interacts with and collects data on the user, giving it the ability to provide what the user needs at the right time without prompts, and even influence their behavior. Practically any activity that we conduct for daily living now has some element of computing to it such as cashless financial transactions, ordering from a restaurant, buying groceries, exercising, securing and regulating our homes, and driving our cars. My own educational experience is completely dependent on computing: I access an LMS and online resources, interact with others by video conferencing, social media and messaging, and producing my own digital media artifacts. As distance learners, my classmates and I have access to a program and resources that we would have never had without an digital learning.
After “Googling” myself I found several positive results, including some which were content that I had posted that was meant to be shared with others. This included my Twitter account, Google+ profile, Linkedin profile, professional bio pages at my work organization (former and current), my ePortfolio, my name in a list of speakers for a conference, my time from participating in a 5K run, presentation slideshows, including one from graduate work and one from an undergraduate course 12 years ago. I was surprised to find things that I wasn’t expecting like an undergraduate assignment and 5K participation results. I also surprisingly have the same exact name as several other people with a considerable footprint, including a CEO and a fairly prolific journalist.
I have a digital profile on Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Linkedin. The first two are for friends only and an unknown person would not have access to them. The Pinterest account is not used, and I never interact with others through it, which makes me think I should delete it. The latter four are open and visible to anyone, as I never post anything that should not be shared with the world. I feel that having these open will allow the positive things about me to be expressed and give an employer a good impression of me, which would not happen if they were private accounts.
Net neutrality matters to education, because without it students’ and educators’ access to services and information may be limited. ISPs could throttle speeds or prohibit access to certain services to influence users to subscribe to other ones instead, for example access to certain educational sites or web based software that was owned by a competitor. Content that expressed controversial views or was detrimental to the ISP could also be blocked, leaving students and educators unable to access and share ideas and information. As the internet is still a fast evolving technology, it remains to be seen how the issue of net neutrality affects the ability of the public to freely share and access content.
Our next goal was to understand digital laws related to responsibility for actions and deeds, including copyrights, plagiarism, public domain, fair use, open source, creative commons and the TEACH Act.
Renee Hobbs, scholar and educator in the field of media literacy education and the author of Copyright Clarity: How Fair Use Supports Digital Learning, emphasized that “the effective use of copyrighted materials enhances the teaching and learning process.” She described how mass media and popular culture, especially in its digital form, are an important part of the cultural environment, and how their appropriate inclusion into the instructional process can enhance and enrich the educational process. In order to maximize the benefits of media inclusion in the classroom, educators will need to use copyrighted media, and need to be aware of the appropriate practices for educators.
According to Pedagogy in Action, presenting abstract and novel concepts in both auditory and visual forms through multimedia research suggests that people learn abstract, new, and novel concepts more easily when they are presented in both verbal and visual form; visual media make concepts more accessible to a person than text media and help with later recall from memory. The use of media can be an effective way to “hook” a lesson, by providing students with an interesting and memorable introduction to concepts. Contemporary media can offer much more current examples and case-studies than what is available in textbooks. Beyond, just an attention-grabber, media can be used to analyze the cultural landscape, apply it to the context of the content area of the lesson, and help students reflect on their own cultural identity.
Effective using copyrighted materials in the classroom also models to students how to appropriately reference the work of others and avoid copyright infringement and plagiarism. Students can learn how to research, incorporate and cite media themselves when creating their own presentations, portfolios and learning artifacts. This will strengthen students’ critical thinking, communication skills, media literacy, understanding of intellectual property, and make them better digital citizens.
We then examined cyberbullying and cybersafety and the role of the technology leader regarding cyber-safety and protecting personal information.
In 1998, says Monica Lewinsky, “I was Patient Zero of losing a personal reputation on a global scale almost instantaneously.” Today, the kind of online public shaming she went through has become a constant. In a brave talk, she takes a look at our “culture of humiliation,” in which online shame equals dollar signs — and demands a different way.
Cyberbullying was defined by Hinduja and Patchin (2015) as “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices” (p. 5). Smith et al., (2008) described cyberbullying as “an aggressive, intentional act carried out by a group or individual, using electronic forms of contact, repeatedly and over time against a victim who cannot easily defend him or herself’’(p. 376), while Essex (2016) reported that “cyberbullying involves the use of electronic devices to send or post hurtful, embarrassing text or images intended to create anxiety, intimidation, or emotional distress in another person.” I think the definition by Smith et al. is the most comprehensive, but because they take into account the repeated nature of the harassment and the characteristics of the individuals who are victimized; Essex, however does make an important point by mentioning the intent behind bullying.
According to Brewer and Kerslake (2015), children who are victims of cyberbullying are three times more likely to be bullied by a classmate than someone outside school (32% vs. 11%), while 16% experience bullying from multiple sources, and surprising 40% do not know the identity of the bully at all. While schoolyard bullies tend to be dominant and aggressive personalities, and have a physical advantage against the person they are bullying, cyberbullies often do not show these characteristics. While bullying tends to exploit more explicit power differences between bully and victim, cyberbullying tend to target those who are socially isolated and have low self-esteem. There is a correlation between cyberbullies and low levels of empathy: individuals with low levels of empathy are more frequent and severe bullies. Cyberbullying perpetrators are not personally exposed to victim distress; online bullying is anonymous, and there is no direct feedback from the victim, leaving the perpetrator with fewer feelings of personal responsibility.
Students need to be educated on the consequences of cyberbullying, both on the victim and themselves, in addition to just being informed on how to prevent cyberbullying and what to do if they are victimized by it. Many students and parents don’t see the harm associated with cyberbullying, with the vast majority disregarding and ignoring what they see online because they don’t see it as a serious issue compared to other forms of bullying. Being presented with facts, examples and case studies will allow students to know and understand the cyberbullying consequences, and develop greater empathy and responsibility for their actions towards others. The necessity of empathy, knowledge and social responsibility make the awareness of cyberbullying an important part the of social aspect of digital citizenship. Students can be shown that technology can be used for positive and constructive things, and that they can use it to actively make the world better place for themselves and others.
Our culminating project was a synthesis of our learning through the course, and consisted of three parts – a brand/mantra, a presentation, a reflective essay, and final reflection.
ACLU. (n.d.). What Is Net Neutrality? Retrieved on December 4, 2018 from https://www.aclu.org/issues/free-speech/internet-speech/what-net-neutrality
Brewer, G., & Kerslake, J. (2015). Cyberbullying, self-esteem, empathy and loneliness. Computers in Human Behavior, 48, 255-260. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2015.01.073
Curran, M. (2012, June). iCitizen: Are you a socially responsible digital citizen. Paper presented at the International Society for Technology Education Annual Conference, San Antonio, TX.
Heick, T. (2018, September 09). Definition of digital citizenship. TeachThought. Retrieved from https://www.teachthought.com/the-future-of-learning/the-definition-of-digital-citzenship/
Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. W. (2015). Bullying beyond the schoolyard: Preventing and responding to cyberbullying. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Hobbs, R. (2010, April 7). Copyright clarity: How fair use supports digital learning. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?id=GlJtondCFBAC
Hurley, K. (n.d.). Social media and teens: How does social media affect teenagers’ mental health. Psycom. Retrieved from https://www.psycom.net/social-media-teen-mental-health
Lewinsky, Monica [TED]. (2015, March 20). The price of shame | Monica Lewinsky. Youtube. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/H_8y0WLm78U
Ohler, J. (2011). Digital citizenship means character education for the digital age. Kappa Delta Pi Record,47(1), 25-27. doi:10.1080/00228958.2011.10516720
Ribble, M. (2015). Digital citizenship in schools: Nine elements all students should know (3rd ed.). Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education.
Smith, P. K., Mahdavi, J., Carvalho, M., Fisher, S., Russell, S., & Tippett, N. (2008). Cyberbullying: Its nature and impact in secondary school pupils. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49, 376–385. doi.org/10.1111/j.1469- 7610.2007.01846.x.
Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Why use media to enhance teaching and learning (n.d.) Pedagogy in Action. Retrieved from https://serc.carleton.edu/sp/library/media/why.html