A digital lifestyle
The Students I work with live digital lifestyles. They attend a BYOT school that requires them to own a laptop. Additionally, the majority of them also own personal mobile device such as a phone or tablet. Some of them also have wearable computers such a smart watches and fitbits. They use social media and belong to online communities. They are often texting, downloading, updating and searching and they are always looking for Wi-Fi and chargers. Come to think of it, this same lifestyle is lived by their teachers, parents, grandparents, coaches and employers. It’s just the way life is for many in modern society.
Public roles as media makers & community participants
Modern society requires people to take on “increasingly public roles as media makers and community participants” (Jenkins, Clinton, Purushotma, Robison, & Weigel, 2006, p.3). Preparing students for the modern workplace and academia requires adding non-traditional skills, knowledge and cultural competencies to our curriculums. To be best prepared for their futures, students will need to:
- understand right behaviours and build the practical skills required to use technology in healthy, responsible and safe ways;
- be able to learn from and build knowledge with peers and teams of people, often whom they may never meet face-to-face;
- value intellectual property in order to use the work of others legally and ethically and also to license their own work appropriately;
- be critical users of information so that they choose authoritative sources and are aware of the ways that media shape perceptions of the world; and
- understand how to contribute to the collective in order to develop meaningful solutions.
Digital citizenship education
In Australia, the Digital Education Revolution saw laptops put into the hands of students. As this initiative has reached its conclusion, schools across the country are implementing BYOD policies (Smith, 2014, Para.2). Given this, it is time for education to shift the focus from the equitable provision of digital access to the equitable provision of opportunities to use technology to develop the social, academic and cultural literacies required for digital participation. Furthermore, teachers who simply use devices as electronic notepads or textbooks will fail to provide opportunities for students to build digital citizenship competencies and attitudes such as those outlined by Mike Ribble (2011, p.11):
Digital learning environments
Authentic digital citizenship education requires digital learning environments. By enabling students to communicate, create, collaborate, disseminate, store and manage information in these environments digital citizenship knowledge and skills are not a choice for students and teachers to adopt, they are a necessity. Schools that are preparing young people for 21st century pathways understand the need for such environments and their responsibility to “develop the skills needed for critical evaluation, online collaboration and communication and behaviours which support safe, responsible and ethical use of digital technology” (Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, 2010, p.8).
What does this mean for my students?
That brings me back to my students and what I need to consider for their learning. One of the things that I think is important for authentic digital citizenship education is for students to engage in environments beyond the Content Management System (CMS). This means we need to use Web 2.0 tools and social media in our classrooms. By doing so, we can lead our students towards positive digital footprints. Furthermore, if we don’t guide students to participate in authentic online environments and communities, we risk the proliferation of ignorance about the consequences and permanence of their online interactions.
Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. (2010). Digital learning statement. Innovation and Next Practice Division, Melbourne. Digital Learning Statement [Fact sheet].Retrieved from http://www.education.vic.gov.au/Documents/about/programs/archive/dls.pdf
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 websitehttp://digitallearning.macfound.org/atf/cf/%7B7E45C7E0-A3E0-4B89-AC9C-E807E1B0AE4E%7D/JENKINS_WHITE_PAPER.PDF.
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
Smith, A. (2014, February 21). End of free laptop program means it’s BYO device now for many high school students. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved March 14, 2015.
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