As a digital citizenship advocate, it is my mission to help school leaders, educators, students, and their families recognize the opportunities and responsibilities intrinsic to digital technologies in education. For this, I need to recognize my own responsibilities, embrace ethical values, and strive to exercise and model excellent digital citizenship. The core ethical principles that will guide my journey are integrity, respect, and equity.
· Integrity is the foundational value that will support my journey as a digital leader. It is like a beacon that reminds me to reflect upon my own biases, act, and present myself with honesty, and carry on respectfully.
· Respect is the core value that will color every interaction, and will extend from self-respect, respect to people’s rights and property, and respect to nature and humanity.
· Equity is a fundamental and necessary value to pursue. Life, and digital life naturally create inherently unequal experiences. Equity guides show the direction and the areas that need to be addressed as I strive to embrace and promote digital citizenship justly.
ISTE standard 7b
Partner with educators, leaders, students, and families to foster a culture of respectful online interactions and a healthy balance in their use of technology.
First, we need to foster a culture of respectful online interactions. In order to better inspire, encourage, support, and form partnerships with school leaders, educators, students, and their families, it is important to recognize and respect their unique needs, perspectives, and unique place in the digital space. How can we show respect to others?
Urban dictionary defines respect as “Treating people in a positive manner that acknowledges them for who they are and/or what they are doing. Being treated or treating an individual in a dignified manner.” We need to make sure that our intentions, interactions, and communication are respectful. We need to include everyone and treat them in a positive way. In order to achieve this, we must make an effort to create protocols that give everyone a voice, and understand that everyone has unique experiences and perspectives that need to be acknowledged and honored.
Protocols associated with digital citizenship are discussed in the article Digital Citizenship: Respect, Protect, Educate, where three elements of respect are defined as “Digital Etiquette, Digital Access, and Digital Law” (Ribble, 2019). Ribble explains that teachers and administrators first need to find out who has and who needs digital access. It is our responsibility to facilitate the means to access the needed tools that will enable teachers, students and parents to engage in online communication.
Ribble also describes digital etiquette as the code of conduct and procedures that are essential while engaging digitally. A respectful code of conduct needs to go beyond “polite” interactions. A respectful code of conduct starts by acknowledging others, encouraging everyone to keep the well-being of others in mind through self-reflection, and treating everyone with dignity. Ideally, everyone involved should participate in the creation of such code of conduct.
Additionally, Ribble provides some examples of the legal responsibilities inherent with the use of digital and online tools. Everyone, regardless of age, needs to learn what is right and legal, and what is not. Most importantly, legal responsibility can be attained by fostering positive approaches and opportunities for critical thinking and an analysis of our actions. It is not sufficient to model and promote digital citizenship. Certain elements, such as the legal responsibilities need to be explicitly taught, but do so respectfully.
ISTE standard 7
Coaches model digital citizenship and support educators and students in recognizing the responsibilities and opportunities inherent in living in a digital world.
As an educator and digital advocate, it is my mission to strive for equity. It is easy to form partnerships with parents who actively participate. It is easy to listen and consider the views of engaged students. It is easy to include highly collaborative teachers. It is easy to teach to some. Nevertheless, everyone needs to be respected, and aware how to make informed decisions to protect their personal data, and well-versed to navigate digitally while critically examining the sources of online media.
There is ample evidence and research confirming the disparity of digital equity. The article Teaching Our Way to Digital Equity analyzes some of the factors contributing to inequality amongst schools, teachers, students, and families. Economic and educational differences contribute to achievement gaps. In his research, Reich observed that “teachers devoted ed-tech planning energy toward their already (comparably) affluent and advantaged students.” The teachers surveyed explained that it was less daunting to integrate new technologies in classes with advanced students where there were no classroom management or content pacing issues. Reich references the documentary “Without a Net” where two schools contrast significantly in their technology resources available for students. Finally, Reich presents six steps that we can follow in order to attain digital equity.
1. Helping educators learn about equitable teaching practices
2. Reframing adult thinking
3. Connect to students’ outside interests
4. Engage families
5. Require opportunities for all
6. Conduct an audit
(Reich, J., 2019)
Perhaps a gap will always exist. Knowing there might always be disparities, I commit to making a conscious effort to help those in need, and bring awareness about inequality. Those who are already digitally wise are the best suited to help create bridges for others lacking resources and knowledge.
ISTE standard 7c
Support educators and students to critically examine the sources of online media and identify underlying assumptions.
A commitment to digital equity calls for including and empowering everyone, but it starts with a plan. We all need to work together to plan and implement courses on digital literacy that can be incorporated in the curriculum and shared with families. “Digital wisdom can be, and must be, learned and taught.” (Prensky, M., 2013, p. 211). Digital wisdom, according to Prensky, includes recognizing the importance of developing digital wisdom, learning how to and use new technologies in a way that will not only enhance, but transform education and human life. Everyone can now easily find information online, but only the digital wise can critically examine, identify biases, and evaluate the accuracy of online sources. Teachers, students and parents can develop the skills to find the information they need discerning from a sea of information that is filled with misinformation. Howard Rheingold devotes an entire chapter in his book Net Smart explaining how to improve these skills he calls Crap detection. The recommendations he provides are extensive, which shows that digital wisdom is a journey and cannot be bottled up in a one-week digital citizenship seminar. Teachers and students need to learn and use these skills on a regular basis. While a workshop or a class on digital citizenship might be a great way to start, the integration of digital skills into the curriculum is essential.
ISTE standard 7a
Inspire and encourage educators and students to use technology for civic engagement and to address challenges to improve their communities.
The need for equity also applies to civic engagement.
Educators and students can learn and improve their use of digital technologies through service learning and by focusing on process and solidarity. Students can become active contributors using technology in order to improve their schools and communities. There are many organizations that offer free curriculum resources for teachers fostering civic involvement. Nevertheless, despite the many resources available, many teachers are still hesitant to implement outside projects. A survey included in the ISTE blog Embedded digital citizenship in all subject areas by Kristen Mattson revealed that 42% of teachers “said the biggest barrier to teaching digital citizenship in schools is a lack of an integrated curriculum.” As a digital advocate, I want to help and empower educators to take advantage of the many resources available in order to integrate service-learning in the classroom. Students can participate by helping to identify and address challenges that their communities face. It is very important, however, to keep equity in mind so that we can engage all students, and families, hear their voices, and represent their unique interests and needs.
ISTE standard 7d
Empower educators, leaders and students to make informed decisions to protect their personal data and curate the digital profile they intend to reflect.
The ability to self-present is a skill especially needed in the digital world. There is permanence in what we post online. As an educator and digital advocate, it is my mission to guide and empower students to make wise decisions regarding the information they post digitally. Social media platforms attract us all like bees to honey. Whether we want to post a picture to stay in touch with relatives far away, make a comment in order to connect with a school friend, or write something about ourselves in order to find a job, we need to be aware that little is private and much is permanent. There are dangers and benefits to digital posts. However, most people participate actively in digital interactions drawn by the social opportunities and the benefits they see, while being oblivious to the possible threat to their privacy, safety, and well-being. Teens are especially vulnerable. Ribble explains in his article Educational Leadership in an online world: connecting students to technology responsibly, safely, and ethically (2013) that cyberbullying, lack of empathy, lack of emotional connection, and stress are some of the main problems associated with digital technology abuse and misuse. Similarly, Rheingold warns that technology acts as a powerful amplifier of our actions and explains how gossip, conflict, slander, etc. can take on a new scale in the digital world (p. 20).Teachers and digital advocates need to take a more active role in teaching students what to consider and how to go about creating their digital profiles and becoming participants of the digital world. Fortunately, there are many resources that support educators, and provide information for families and students on how to protect their personal data, and how to better understand the impact of their digital footprint. The Digital Citizenship Curriculum from Common Sense K-12 provides ample information and activities for school leaders, teachers, and students and that are based on five core dispositions of digital citizenship: 1) slow down and self-reflect, 2) explore perspectives, 3) seek facts and evidence, 4) envision options and possible impacts, 5) take action. It is important to be intentional and honest about the information we share. We want to act with integrity and respect making sure that we are not offending or deceiving others.
In my mission to advocate digital citizenship, I focus on core ethical values such as integrity, respect, and equity because they are fundamental notwithstanding the digital needs of our time. Nevertheless, I think it is necessary to promote both fundamental and digitally specific values, and help students see the connection between the two. For example, ISTE standard 7d includes the importance to empower educators, leaders, and students to curate their digital profile. What is the intention behind creating a specific digital profile? It is my mission as a digital citizen advocate to empower others to make not only informed, but also honest and well-intentioned decisions. While I encourage students and educators to use technology for civic engagement, I also want to inspire a sense of justice so they can better serve their communities. Digital technologies have the potential to transform many aspects of education, and those tools can be used for better and worse. It is my mission to become a good role model that can support educators and students learn how to ethically use digital tools responsibly.
Bandy, J. (2019, November 6). What is service learning or community engagement? Center for Teaching. Retrieved from https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/teaching-through- community-engagement/
Clifford, Joan (2017). Talking about service-learning: Product or process? Reciprocity or solidarity? Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, 21(4), 1-13. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1163945
ISTE Standards for Coaches. Retrieved from: https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches
James, C., Weinstein, E., & Mendoza, K. (2019). Teaching digital citizens in today’s world: Research and insights behind the Common Sense K–12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum. [pdf] Common Sense Media. https://d1e2bohyu2u2w9.cloudfront.net/education/sites/default/f iles/tlr_component/common_sense_education_digital_citizenship_researc h_backgrounder.pdf
Mattson, K. (September 21, 2018). Embed digital citizenship in all subject areas. https://www.iste.org/explore/Empowered-Learner/Embed-digital- citizenship-in-all-subject- areas#:~:text=The%20ISTE%20Standards%20for%20Educators,Students %20describe%20young%20people%20as
Rheingold, H., & Weeks, A. (2014). Net Smart: How to Thrive Online (The MIT Press) (Illustrated ed.). The MIT Press.
Ribble, M. (2013). Educational leadership in an online world: connecting students to technology responsibly, safely, and ethically. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17(1), 137- 145. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1011379
Urban dictionary: Respect. (n.d.). Retrieved September 27, 2020, from https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Respect