Building Digital Citizenship

Just finished another of Dr. Couros’ informative classes, this time focusing on digital citizenship. The overarching idea was that it isn’t simply about dealing with online hazards, but also about building safe spaces and communities, how to manage personal info., and to use your online presence to grow and shape your world in a safe, creative way, and inspiring others to do the same.

The biggest change in technology from when I was a child is  the accessibility to unfiltered information. I think this is an important thing to grasp. There is a gamut of offensive information out there, and students are in some way or another, going to come across it. It’s then important to realize that we are doing our students a real disservice if we do not teach them to filter the content, and how they can use the internet to their benefit, and not possible detriment.

The problem though, is how do we go about doing this? As Dr. Couros’ explained, the old ways of going about this are becoming obsolete, especially with the idea that now multiple authors are producing material, and not simply the unquestionable networks I had access to at an early age.

I think educating students in the most beneficial ways of using the internet (as a research tool) will help them to become more objective users of what the net offers. A big problem we are now facing is the lack of objectivity in the news, and perhaps a lack of understanding the relevance of this. Making students aware of why relevant facts matter may slow the perpetuation of mistruths, and force accountability on institutions, like the NEWS, consider to be objective and factual based.
As well making the internet out to be a tool will help to reinforce time and self management skills that may keep students from becoming too absorbed by the internet, and the myriad distractions that go with it. Since watching the documentary Digital Nation, and the debate over the effect of  multi-tasking, I have been so aware of all the distractions the internet has on me getting anything done. Why do I feel the urge to check my facebook, twitter, blog stats, etc. every so often? I have been trying to think of past distractions that were so attractive, and the real reason I think it becomes attractive is the instant gratification kind of conditioning it imparts. It is forever changing (for the blog you hope the stats are always changing, anyways!), and instantaneous. No time spent flipping through channels looking for something to watch; it’s right there, with the click of a tab.

I have to say though that despite all these possible setbacks, when put into perspective of all that we as educators, and first and foremost students can benefit from new technologies and the internet, the risks, so long as we have the tools to manage them, are insignificant.

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