We’re all well aware that the media of today are very different from the media we grew up with. It’s produced by anybody on all kinds of large-to-very-small, portable devices, anywhere in the world, and it changes constantly and instantly in real time – with users themselves doing the changing and updating! Its biggest global source and platform is that created by mobile phones, probably, but we have some very fresh, quite staggering numbers from another key platform, Facebook, because it filed to go public last week. And I only mention these numbers because of what they say about today’s media and its users: Facebook has 843 million users in every country, 483 million of them accessing the site each day, uploading 250 million photos a day. Each month, users collectively add 30 billion pieces of content (comments, photos, videos, etc.) to the site. This is not content as we’ve always known it. It’s the content of our lives. It’s the moment-by-moment collective self-expression of a growing proportion of humanity – certainly a huge proportion of the developed world. In the US, 80% of teens and 65% of adults use social networking sites (Pew/Internet: http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Teens-and-social-media/Summary/Findings.aspx and http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Social-Networking-Sites.aspx). Today’s media is very much like a dynamic, living thing.
With this slide, I just want to pause and emphasize that because media is social, or behavioral, now, it’s not something added on to real life. It’s embedded in our lives – particularly the everyday lives of our children – because they are its most avid, engaged users. So – if so much part of everyday life – what’s different now ? Why is there so much talk of digital literacy and citizenship?
One of the elements of OS 3.0 is something we call “the Net effect”: So much of what we’re dealing with on the social Web is the same as always – adolescent behavior and development, the socializing, relationships and drama at school or work. But here’s what’s different with the Internet: The socializing, the adolescent behavior and development, etc. haven’ t really changed with the arrival of the social Web. This is from the 2009 PhD dissertation of danah boyd, now a researcher for Microsoft. We add Disinhibition , that lack of body language, facial expression voice inflection that makes us forget we’ re interacting with fellow human beings – that has the effect of removing empathy. We all need to understand that those are human beings with feelings behind those profiles, avatars, screennames, and text messages – and model this understanding for our children FOR THEIR OWN PROTECTION (“aggressive behavior more than doubles….” [Archives…]). [ “Taken Out of Context: American Teen Sociality in Networked Publics” http://www.danah.org/papers/TakenOutOfContext.pdf]
So literacy is very much needed. I learned from my colleagues at the Safer Internet Forum in 2009 that really three literacies are required, now that media is social: Digital literacy – suggests not only fluency in technology and media but understanding the power and potential impact of these digital tools. There is very little consensus on its definition in our country, but one definition – the user-sourced one in Wikipedia – suggests dig lit is “ the ability to locate, organize, understand, evaluate, and analyze information using digital technology. ” However, by focusing on “ information, ’ this suggests only one static element of today ’ s highly fluid social, or behavioral, media. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 called for all children to be “ tech-literate ” by 8 th grade by 2014 <http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/tech/tech210.shtml>, but the law provided no definition of “ tech literate, ” no funding, and no penalty for ignoring the requirement. Most US schools also still block social media, so schools are blocking the use of the very media tools that can help students prepare for the workplace. A major study on the state of education, the Horizon Report 2012 , found that “ Digital media literacy continues its rise in importance as a key skill in every discipline and profession. ” [OFSTED too/ Feb. ‘ 10 – best long-term protection] Social literacy – In a media environment that’s social, or behavioral, we can’t ignore social literacy – the ability to identify and regulate one’s own emotions and reactions is often referred to as “social-emotional learning,” which is being taught in a significant percentage of US schools. Forty-eight US states have comprehensive standards for teaching social-emotional learning in pre-school, and at least one-quarter of the some 99,000 elementary, middle and secondary schools in the US have instruction in digital citizenship. Media literacy – And media literacy is more important than ever, both because media are digital and multi-directional and because of the flood of media users are faced with 24/7, 7 days a week. Now we need critical thinking about outgoing media – what we produce, share, and upload – as much as incoming media – what we read, consume, and download .
These are just a sample of 16 definitions a class of students at Duke University arrived at…. “ Developing a diversity of writing styles and modes of communication to best reach, address, and accommodate multiple audiences across multiple online platforms” (Our children are learning this right now, out of school and largely on their own – wouldn’t it be great to help them do this in the subjects of their interest in school?) “ Cultivating strategies for managing the line between personal and professional life in visible, online communities” (which shows they fully “get” the idea of “invisible publics” that social media researcher danah boyd addressed in her 2009 PhD dissertation – see this ) “ Understanding how to transform complicated ideas and gut reactions about technology into flexible technology policy” (If they’re working on this, then when they’re on school boards, in legislatures, etc., they’ll be writing or rewriting laws in intelligent ways, informed by their digital literacy.) “ Appreciating the complex ethics surrounding online practices” (They understand the complexities that we still seem to deal with in binary ways – online/offline, public/private, bully/victim, etc. – so let’s hope they are finding good resources for applying ethics and critical thinking to those complexities.) Two related ones, “Using the superior expertise of a peer to extend my own knowledge” and “Collaborating across disciplines, working with people from different backgrounds and fields…” sound like the “digital wisdom” Marc Prensky discuss (see this ) and the literacy drawn upon by “cross-functional teams” which Prof. James Paul Gee says enables them to solve problems in a complex world (see this ). – Duke University Prof. Cathy Davidson <http://dmlcentral.net/blog/cathy-davidson/what-are-digital-literacies-let%E2%80%99s-ask-students> – http://www.netfamilynews.org/?p=30359
What the university students themselves are telling us is that we learn by doing … in ANY environment … including the new DIGITAL environments created by the Internet. You can’t learn to swim without water. We can’t really teach our children the literacies of living in a digital world without giving them opportunities in the classroom to learn in and with the media tools used in their everyday lives. to figure out what does and doesn’t work for them in the context of the classroom. For hundreds of years schools have been guiding and enriching children’s experiences in and with traditional media – where we find novels, plays, poetry, art, language – why are schools resisting providing such enrichment and instruction in NEW media? This is Google+ – a natural addition to classroom work under the guidance of a teacher because Google Docs is already widely used in US schools – these tools allow for teacher and students to work collaboratively….
Blogs, wikis, virtual worlds, multiplayer online games – students collab. on projects (field notes for science, writing for lang. arts, findings in current events and social studies, etc.)…. Examples : The School at Columbia U. created its own educational social network (also The Gallery for photos and The Tube for posting videos) – to teach middle schoolers safe, constructive use of social networking as well as media literacy, digital footprints. Jose Aguirre ’s use of a Facebook community page for his Earth Science High School Class (“I post school photos, lab videos, links to NASA. I even used ‘discussions’ to have them submit homework as an alternative to [using] Blogger”) Gabe the first-year German teacher who sets up a private group where he posts “study help, extra material, interesting links” and his students “post comments, ideas and any questions they have. I can also post ‘tick the box’ lists as well as primitive questionnaires. The event reminder and calendar is also a great function.” Teacher and coach Rick has “a Facebook group for each of my classes and the Golf team which I coach. Once the group is set up students can join it and then I okay them to join and my personal stuff is kept personal and yet I can message all the students and even parents who join and they can message me. I find this a great way to be in contact, and not have to write in email addresses, and yet not be friends.” MOBILE APPS (HORIZON REPORT ’ 12 near-term) are the fastest-growing dimension of the mobile space in higher education right now, with impacts on virtually every aspect of informal life, and increasingly, every discipline in the university. Google has an apps for Android dev ’ t program for educators. A TX h.s. student created his own this-day-in-history app now used in his school.
So here ’s one recommendation a task force I had the honor of co-chairing – the Online Safety & Technology Working Group – made to the US Congress in our report in 2010: In addition to calling for universal instruction in new media literacy, we wrote: “ We need to recognize that, by far the most common risk to children stems from their own actions and those of their peers and that many of these risks are not new. It is the delivery mechanisms which are [new]. While technology can be used to amplify or facilitate bullying, for example, it is not the cause of the problem. In addition to sending a message that bullying and harassment will not be tolerated, work needs to be done starting in Kindergarten or earlier on “digital citizenship” – or rather a renewed effort to teach citizenship online and offline – encouraging children to respect themselves and others.... The government can’t legislate civility, but it can encourage it. This will not be an easy fix but, like cutting down on smoking, racism, sexism and other social ills, it can be accomplished through awareness-raising over time.”
Here are the six elements that keep turning up in the research and public forums: Nothing happens without access . In a participatory, or social, media environment , engagement or participation is fundamental I’ve talked a little about the literacies that are like a three-legged stool – in a social media environment, you can’t have one without the other two Rights and responsibilities – what immediately comes to mind for a lot of people when they hear the word “citizenship” Norms of behavior , often called &quot;good citizenship&quot; or etiquette, is the elements stressed the most by adults when referring to youth. I suggest that telling young people they must be “good digital citizens” and implying that literacy and citizenship constitute only responsibilities without rights is incomplete and ineffective. A sense of membership or belonging (not the Net as a whole but one’s communities on it).
IF IT WOULD BE HELPFUL TO DEFINE IT A LITTLE MORE, here’s one possibility: Digital citizenship might be considered the rights & responsibilities of full, successful engagement in an increasingly participatory media environment, culture, and world. The rights might include (see slide)… The responsibilities might include… The goal is to support safe use and expression by teaching and modeling the literacies of a digital media environment. Resources : For educator education: From Fear to Facebook: One School ’s Journey , by Matt Levinson http://www.amazon.com/Fear-Facebook-One-Schools-Journey/dp/1564842703 “ Moving Beyond One Size Fits All to Digital Citizenship,” by educators Matt Levinson and Deb Socia http://publius.cc/moving_beyond_one_size_fits_all_digital_citizenship ) For parent education : A Facebook Guide for Parents , by Anne Collier and Larry Magid of ConnectSafely.org http://www.fbparents.org [See also: “Why digital citizenship is a hot topic (globally)” http://www.netfamilynews.org/?p=29466 and “Digital risk, digital citizenship” <http://www.netfamilynews.org/2009/05/digital-risk-digital-citizenship.html>.]
Harvard School of Ed's 2010 research on digital ethics found a need for youth agency online – Young ppl will be safer online when they know they can make a difference in digital spaces – when they (and their parents & teachers) see their online experiences as consequential – calling for intelligent, thoughtful use. So there’s quite an argument for digital citizenship now, in this context. We see that it’s not a luxury, when we know – as was published in a medical journal in 2007 – that [BULLET 1] youth who engage in aggressive behavior online are more than twice as likely to be victimized online. DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP IS NOT JUST A NICE ADDITION to safety and security online. It’s protective. Fosters a sense of community & collaboration. 2 nd – Agency & critical thinking are protective as well, a 2010 report of the British government’s education regulatory agency. It found that developing critical thinking about, rather than school filtering of, students’ Internet use provides them with better protection over the long term http ://www.netfamilynews.org/?p= 28736 . 3 rd – Agency is the kernel & substance of social & civic engagement and today’s participatory media [See: “Why digital citizenship is a hot topic” http://www.netfamilynews.org/?p=29466 ] 4 th – Internet use becomes consequential when users become stakeholders in their own wellbeing and that of their peers and communities – not passive consumers or potential victims. 5 th – Citizens are invested in the community; anonymity goes away and accountability takes hold.
I think we have to ask ourselves this question – and ask young people !!! Here’s what I see they get out of it; I hope we have time to talk about it. The bottom line: self-actualization for digitally informed life (online and offline) [And what ’s in it for adults? Eases the excessive sense of responsibility we’ve taken upon ourselves, based on the outdated (in today’s media environment, increasingly unsupported) premise that youth safety is based on control.] To conclude: Because safety, privacy, reputation protection – everything – is a shared experience in social media (on any device), users are in the driver ’s seat. They – what they choose to say, do, post, share, produce – determine how good or bad the experience is (their own and that of their peers and communities online and offline). So they’re not actually just users or even producers, but stakeholders in how it all goes. They, like all of us, are helping to create the social norms of social media for the benefit of all.
Digital Literacy, Digital Citizenship Anne Collier Co-Director ConnectSafely.org
“ Promote digital citizenship in pre-K-12 education as a national priority.” – Youth Safety on a Living Internet: Report of the Online Safety & Technology Working Group Our report to Congress, June 2010...