We need a starting point. I believe we need to ask some big questions about digital citizenship, the biggest as educators being:
What actually teaches digital citizenship, and what does not?
(see how big the question is?)
So here is a bold statement. It arises out of my understanding of attachment theory, but it also is based in my experience. I tweeted it out one day just to get some dialogue on my stance:
Do we hand a fishing rod or a soccer ball to ours kids, say get out and learn some skills, and then sit down to watch the Whitecaps game as they walk out the door? No: our involvement makes the difference. The neighbourhood kids might know a thing or two about soccer or fishing. . .or Facebook. But we can't rely on them. They are just muddling through themselves. And without our involvement, we'd lose the pleasure of teaching them.
...even if we are muddling through soccer, fishing, or Facebook ourselves.
We can't teach skills from afar: cyber etiquette or otherwise. I want to share some practical ideas about this:
I presented on a learning management system called Edmodo at the CUEBC 2013 conference in Vancouver, BC. The slides are shared here:
When I started putting together my slides for the CUEBC 2013 Conference, I was very excited to share about Edmodo--a free social learning network that acted as a learning management system. I thought I'd tack a little digital citizenship on to the back end of it. As I continued perfecting my slides, I realized that I'd rather have my attendees play and I took out some of the "teaching slides". I also added some real online Edmodo dialogue that had taken place in my class for discussion at the workshop.
As I looked at the online dialogue, I realized the juxtaposition of the significant with the insignificant. My sharing about a learning management system seemed so trifling as compared to the sharing about how to deal with the weighty citizenship issues. I had to re-jig the slides again!
That same day, I stumbled on the Edscape 2013 conference's keynote Saturday morning being live streamed on teachercast.tv. George Couros was sharing about and highlighted a young girls blog. You can find it here: Alyssa's Blog. Her blog is filled with comments by adults: Uncle Phil, Mrs. Hogg, George Couros. I realized that this young lady is part of a healthy adult involved community. She is contributing to the great conversation of learning. I wasn't surprised when I found out that her father was an educator.
She is learning to be a digital citizen--not just a non-bullyer--but a true contributing citizen of the digital world. And her online involvement is with many adults who can support and contribute.
Edmodo calls itself a social learning tool. Sure, I can post assignments and students can hand in their work. But more than that, they can interact with each other. . .and with me. If and when the interaction gets out of hand, I intervene. I say something like this:
Then in the context of a morning meeting, we can look at what happened. We can talk about the effects of the improper interactions and we can talk about better ways of dealing with each other.
I believe this process actually teaches students about online behaviour. It teaches digital citizenship. And this has led me to my bold statement.