Digital citizenship basics


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Boiling digital citizenship down for easy digestion (7 slides + an addendum with some research background). I hope it helps educators make the case for using blogs, wikis, digital environments, virtual worlds, Google Docs, mobile phones, tablets, etc. in the classroom, knowing that this is the way to learn and practice digital citizenship together! No special curriculum needed.

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  • Think of this as a cook’s reduction, boiling digital citizenship down to its essence. I love the kitchen metaphor because we all know that you can’t teach cooking without a kitchen. You can’t really become a chef – or a citizen – without multiple opportunities to cook, to practice citizenship. Cooking includes some risks (very hot equipment, knives, etc.), as do digital environments, but we can’t learn our way around these environments, not to mention competency, without learning how to function well and skillfully in them. So here are some basics about digital citizenship – which, BTW, is a global work in progress (not something any individual citizen could him/herself presume to define for all), a work in progress, as we all figure out the social norms and navigation of this planet’s new digital, networked media environment.
  • Here are the 6 elements that keep turning up in the research and conferences I’ve attended in various countries: No digital citizenship possible without access to connected digital media. A participatory media environment is defined by engagement or participation The literacies are like a three-legged stool – in a social media environment, you can’t have 1 without the other 2. I first heard them spoken of together at the Safer Internet Forum in Luxembourg in 2009 (in terms of skills more than literacies), and just last year in the US (2012), social literacy (or SEL) was identified as essential to bullying prevention (after cyberbullying was ID’d by a nat’l task force I served on (ISTTF) as the most salient risk youth face online). Developing these amounts to greater safety / lower risk for users of all ages, as well as for their communities, personal property (intellectual, software, hardware), & networks because they employ critical thinking about the use and impacts of tech, information, and behavior . They perfect the filtering “software” in every child’s head the which spells lifelong protection []. Rights and responsibilities – It’s great people, particularly educators, are thinking more about what constitutes these now (see this ) (more on this a few slides down) Norms of behavior , often called "good citizenship" or etiquette, is the element stressed 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, ineffective ,and – candidly – disrespectful (which reduces their engagement, logically).[] A sense of belonging (not the Net as a whole but in one’s communities on it).
  • Let’ s pls not make it ROCKET SCIENCE (or allow a whole industry to grow up around it)! The ultimate goal is learning how to navigate life, relationships, and community (online as well as offline) effectively and successfully. We can’t do that without learning how to be good to one another – without some respectful social literacy. [Artist, writer, and SUNY Buffalo instructor) A.J. Patrick Liszkiewicz recently wrote about its most basic definition here: Echoed by two psychology professors writing in the NYT: “ Our research on child development makes it clear that there is only one way to truly combat bullying.... As an essential part of the school curriculum, we have to teach children how to be good to one another, how to cooperate, how to defend someone who is being picked on and how to stand up for what is right.” <> So we don ’t really need whole curriculums about it or hours of professional development – better to spend that on social-emotional learning, which improves academic performance to boot ( It should be nothing special, like breathing, but we can’t get there if we don’t allow social media use in school. See also: “ Citizenship & the social Web mirror in our faces 24/7 “ 28792 - “ Next step: Crowd-source digital citizenship http :// 30619 - “The goal for digital citizenship: Turn it into a verb”
  • If it’d be helpful to define it a little more, picking up on the rights & responsibilities element, here’ s one possibility…. Digital citizenship is the rights & responsibilities of full, successful engagement in an increasingly participatory media environment, culture, and world OR …of full, healthy, meaningful participation in the digital discourses of a networked world. THE GOAL is to support self-actualization (agency) by teaching and modeling the literacies or competencies of successful use of digital media SO YOUTH SEE FOR THEMSELVES THE POSSIBILITIES AND BENEFITS OF BEING ACTIVE AGENTS FOR THEIR OWN AND THE SOCIAL GOOD. SO THEY CAN PRACTICE IT IN SAFE ENVIRONMENTS LIKE CLASSROOMS . Resources : For educator education: From Fear to Facebook: One School ’s Journey , by Matt Levinson “ Moving Beyond One Size Fits All to Digital Citizenship,” by educators Matt Levinson and Deb Socia ) For parent education : A Facebook Guide for Parents , by Anne Collier and Larry Magid of [See also: and “Why digital citizenship is a hot topic (globally)” and “Digital risk, digital citizenship” <>.]
  • BUT can citizenship just be “packaged up” as if done: THERE! DEFINED! It tends to unfold , doesn’t it? By definition it’s “crowd-sourced” []. Here’s how it was developed by the citizens in teacher Marti Weston’s 5 th grade class in the DC area… “ As always, a few students improved upon my lesson plan and asked to write podcasts for their other teachers. The resulting efforts helped students better define their digital citizenship. One student noted, “When an electronic problem [like cyberbullying] becomes a ‘big problem,’ teachers talk about it at school. How come we don’t talk about these things when they aren’t [big] problems? These students also wanted to learn more about how their teachers and other adult leaders experience electronic-world challenges…. In other words, the students yearned to view their instructors as technology behavior models, just as teachers serve as their models in other ways. After some discussion, the kids agreed on five areas that non-technology teachers should cover more often [note they include media as well as social literacy, that students don’t separate those in their minds]: 1. Do you ever get an e-mail, voicemail, or text that hurts your feelings? What do you do? What about spam, urban legends, and chain letters? 2. Can you tell us why you use a particular website for a class project or lesson? If you find a site that is terrible, can you show us why you are not using it? 3. Will you remind us often about how electronic communication does not express feelings? Have you been treated meanly or rudely in an e-mail or text? 4. Can you learn [and help us learn] more about Wikipedia? It’s everywhere. It almost always shows up when we search. Can you help us figure out the next good link? 5. Please remind us a lot about digital footprints? This group never actually recorded a podcast. But something even better happened. By the time the students had finished, an idea I call the “digital citizenship min.” had been born…” [See also:]
  • Besides cooking, another obvious metaphor is swimming. You can’t teach swimming – digital literacy and citizenship – without a pool. This is just logical. So we need to get digital environments and social media into school so these skills can be modeled and practiced in one of the best places where they can be practiced by people as they grow up (see the next slide). We’ve focused so long on building fences – keeping digital media OUT of school – even while knowing about cellphones and all the other workarounds kids have at their fingertips all the time. [Educator and author Justin Reich calls filter knee-high fences that only trip up the adults while students jump over them <>.] Another reason why practice is needed: The digital kind of citizenship is still in process in this new media environment in which we all, globally, find ourselves. How do we lock in cement a curriculum for something we’re only just beginning to explore, that needs to evolve as we develop the social norms of social media and a networked world?
  • What sort of infrastructure supports the practice of the elements of digital citizenship? These pillars have long undergirded classroom learning; now they can support learning in digital environments where digital citizenship can be practiced. For this to happen, we need increasingly to bring the use of social media – or social learning tools – into school! Not in stand-alone or add-on courses sending the message that Net use & behavior are separate from everyday life, but in core classes. Infrastructure – the infrastructure can be a classroom, a wiki, a lesson plan, a virtual world, a Google doc, a blog but must include a philosophy or set of values, e.g. Quest Atlantis’ s 7 Social Commitments that form the bases of creating together a community culture of respect. Practice – Citizenship is a verb ; the more opportunities young ppl have to practice citizenship online and offline IN SCHOOL, the better. Guidance/support/teaching/moderation – This role can be played by a teacher, peer mentors, and fellow classmates – together, simultaneously Agency – This is what make the activity meaningful for students, making it their own – ESSENTIAL TO GOOD GAME DESIGN, KEY TO LEARNING: CHOICE. OWNERSHIP. Their own work. They’ re creators and producers, not just passive consumers. They’re full participants in the individual and collective learning process. Developing citizenship is developing safety, but… Benefits go beyond safety – social competency or literacy, civic engagement, trust, collaboration, the comfort of community, being able to function well in one. More than civic engagement – it’ s about civic efficacy , students feeling like they can make a difference
  • To build on one of the 6 dig. cit. elements: We know that using digital media & technology in the classroom increases student engagement, but that’s only the beginning. Second, their use also affords opportunities for their engagement in interactive or collaborative work beyond the classroom walls, engagement with fellow students, experts, and the world ( civic engagement). In other words, not just engagement in , but engagement with . Third, more engagement means students are getting lots of practice, which is what gets them to literacy and efficacy (or competency) in all they’re engaged in. See this about what really motivates/increases engagement about working in digital media in classrooms (agency, competence, relevance, and participation). [As for the social part of digital media, the media of our (and our students’) present and future: Because safety, privacy, reputation protection – everything – is a shared experience in social media (on any device), users are/must be in the driver’ s seat (agency). Safety, etc. can’t be controlled or imposed from the top-down. Users not only need agency but also efficacy in social environments. It’s largely they – what they choose to say, do, post, share, produce – who determine how good or bad experiences in media are (their own and those of their peers and communities online and offline). So they’re not actually just users or even producers, but joint-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. This is why school needs to instill in students the awareness of their stakeholdership as well as afford opportunities to practice it. In a social media environment, users not only need agency but also competency and participation for successful navigation.]
  • These are just a sample of 16 definitions a class of students at Duke University arrived at. As you can see, individuals’ experience of each of these is and will always be, well, wholly individual. So what the university students themselves are telling us is that we learn by doing, right? … in ANY environment … including the new digital environments online and on digital devices. We can’t really teach our children citizenship in a digital age without giving them opportunities to work out – at home and school - how these literacies are expressed in their own livesl. Particularly at school, where the learning is explicit and guided – through trial and error over time to figure out what does and doesn’t work in collaborative learning. 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? – Duke University Prof. Cathy Davidson <> –
  • But if you need a curriculum and lesson plans, that’s fine. I highly recommend this free (Creative Commons-licensed) curriculum from a joint project of the New Media Literacies Project at the U. of S. Calif. and the GoodPlay Project at the Harvard School of Education: “Our Space” <>.
  • I think we have to ask ourselves this question – and ask young people (our fellow citizens) what digital citizenship offers them! Here’ s what, so far, I see them getting out of it, if they’re at the center of (if not drivers of) its practice: Just a couple of examples: “Social-emotional learning ups academic performance” ( and social efficacy, which fosters success in collaborative work. [And what’ s in it for adults? Eases the excessive – really unrealistic – sense of responsibility we’ve taken upon ourselves in today’s user-driven media environment. This undue burden is probably rooted in our experience with previous-generation top-down media and the outgrown, outdated premise that youth safety is based on control.]
  • If CIPA compliance comes up… [[CIPA compliance – new requirement in the US ( "This Internet safety policy must also include monitoring the online activities of minors and must provide for educating minors about appropriate online behavior , including interacting with other individuals on social networking websites and in chat rooms and cyberbullying awareness and response” ). Schools are self-certified under CIPA, so they decide how much red tape they want to create! [Required to certify their compliance once a year on FCC Form 486 <>.] A lot of schools/districts want the “plug-’n’-play” curricula promised by some Internet safety organizations & commercial entities – but that guarantees nothing and there are SO many options! Do consider Our Space – also free and much more creative and research-based) or just teaching citizenship and literacy in digital environments!]]
  • So context is key. What’s going on at home, in school, and in a child’s head (his/her psychosocial make-up) are the most important factors in his/her safety in digital environments. Fundamentally, technology is neither the problem nor the solution, but we learn to function safely and successfully in the environments it creates through practice in those environments. Report:
  • Digital citizenship – including respectful interaction and collaboration, fostered by a culture of respect and practice within it – increases safety and efficacy. ARCHIVES OF PEDIATRICS & ADOLESCENT MEDICINE [See also: “Digital risk, digital citizenship” <>.]
  • Research shows that perception actually predicts reality. Understanding – perceiving – that most people are good and respectful toward one another moves behavior in a positive direction. Two profs. at Hobart/William Smith in upstate NY found that t he most common (and erroneous) perception among students in the schools they studied (the perception, not the reality) is that most kids engage in or support bullying. They were applying to bullying what has already proven effective in other areas of public health. The chart’ s impossible to read, so just look at the red and blue lines. Blue is perception – what students thought was going on with bullying. The red line represents actual bullying behavior. This was in 5 schools in New Jersey between 2006 and 2008. As the schools conducted surveys within their own communities, finding that most students don’t engage in bullying and helping all students understand that (see the next slide), the perception (misunderstanding that bullying was normative) went down and bullying behavior went down proportionately. It was already low, but when students SAW that, it went down even more. Source : “ Assessing Bullying in New Jersey Secondary Schools: Applying the Social Norms Model to Adolescent Violence”: David W. Craig and Wesley Perkins, Hobart and William Smith Colleges 2008 [[Cyberbullying expert Sameer Hinduja, a prof. at FL Atlantic U.( & co-dir. of the Cyberbullying Research Center) wrote, “Schools must work to create a climate in which responsible use of Facebook ... Is ‘what we do around here’ and ‘just how it is at our school and with our students.’ This can occur by focusing attention on the  majority  of youth who  do  utilize computers and cell phones in acceptable ways.”]]
  • After conducting surveys about bullying in their own school communities, the NJ schools displayed the results in posters like this placed throughout the school – letting students know that taking care of each other is actually the norm. That perception, or understanding, reinforced positive behaviors. Of course it ’s not just about putting up posters around school. It’s modeling and demonstrating in multiple ways that “our community is a respectful one. This is just the visual representation of that ongoing messaging, which all community members, including and especially staff, are demonstrating throughout the day – based on stated policy.
  • Because of all the above, here ’s what the OSTWG, which I had the honor of co-chairing, wrote to lawmakers: “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. This baseline (or “Primary”) online-safety education cannot take place in a vacuum – or only in a single sphere of youth activity – but must promote movement toward greater civility not just among young people but also parents, educators, youth workers and other role models..... 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.” My blog post on the report (linking to it):
  • THE RESEARCH SHOWS THEY ARE READY TO TAKE THIS RESPONSIBILITY. Today’ s media give us and our children super powers compared to the days when we were mere passive consumers, so the bottom iine, really, is the Spider-Man lesson: “With great power comes great responsibility. ” USC media prof. and founder of the New Media Literacies Project Henry Jenkins sees Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, as an apt metaphor for today’s new-media-empowered youth. He cites the advice Peter’s Uncle Ben gave him as he was discovering his powers. This quote from Dr. Jenkins is in the Introduction of “ Our Space” <> a new literacy & citizenship curriculum created by the New Media Literacies Project and the Harvard School of Education’s GoodPlay Project that was released for the (2010-11) school year. " The product of a broken home, he currently is under the supervision of his aunt and uncle. Peter considers himself to be a master of the web, able to move rapidly from site to site and applying his emerging skills to promote social justice. Peter has engaged with typical identity play, adopting a flamboyant alter ego, an avatar which allows him to do and say things  he would be hesitant to do otherwise. Peter belongs to a social network with  kids from a nearby private academy who share his perception of being different ... . Peter uses FlickR to publish his photographs .... T he editor has been so impressed by Peter's work that he now lets him work freelance. Peter often interacts with adults who share his geeky interests online. Peter uses his computer to monitor suspicious activities in his community and is able to use a range of mobile technologies to respond anytime, anywhere to issues which concern him. He uses Twitter to maintain constant contact with his girl friend, Mary Jane, who often has to stay after school to rehearse for drama productions. ... Peter knows less than he thinks he does but more than the adults around him realize. While he makes mistakes, some of them costly, he is generally ready to confront the responsibilities thrust upon him by his circumstances .”
  • So once again, why digital citizenship? It’ s key to individual and collective well-being and success. It’s important for people to see that citizenship isn’t just NICE – it isn’t a luxury for schools with unlimited budgets. It builds literacy and efficacy online and it’s protective, essential to community building – online and offline, and establishing a culture of respect that protects everyone.
  • Digital citizenship basics

    1. 1. Digital Citizenship just the basics Anne Collier Co-Director Executive Director Net Family News, Inc.
    2. 2. Six elements of digital citizenship• Access• Participation or “civic engagement”• Literacies: tech, media, social• Rights and responsibilities• Norms of behavior ("good citizenship”)• A sense of membership, belonging
    3. 3. The most basic definition “The central task of citizenship is learning how to be good to one another.” – A.J. Patrick Liszkiewicz
    4. 4. Expanded definition (draft)Citizenship: the rights & responsibilities of full, positive engagement in a participatory world• Rights – access & participation, free speech, privacy, physical & psychological safety, safety of material and intellectual property• Responsibilities – respect & civility -> self & others; protecting own/others’ rights & property; respectful interaction; demonstrating the blended literacy of a networked world: digital, media, social
    5. 5. Digital citizenship tends to unfold… 5th grade teacher writes about her students’ ‘Digital Citizenship Minute’
    6. 6. Get the ‘pool’ into school!
    7. 7. The pillars of citizenship learning • Infrastructure • Practice • Guidance • AgencyPhoto by Julian Turner
    8. 8. Digital learning’s progression1. Classroom engagement2. Civic engagement (participation)3. Civic efficacy
    9. 9. Students’ definitions…Developing and determining the best…•Means of communication & self-expression•Strategies for maintaining the line betweenpersonal and professional expression•Media tools for reaching one’scommunication/expression goals•Ethics for online practices and expression•Ways to function in collaboration & community…of digital literacy
    10. 10. Our Space:Being a Responsible Citizen of the Digital World (great free curriculum from USC and Harvard)
    11. 11. What’s in it for students?• Safety and support• Power – as agents for the social good• Digital, media, and social literacy• Practice in the collaborative problem-solvingtheir futures will demand• Opportunities to co-create the social norms ofsocial media & a networked world• Preparation for success, leadership
    12. 12. Thank you! Anne
    13. 13. AddendumSome background from the research…
    14. 14. What we now know...from the youth-risk research:Harassment & cyberbullying = most common riskNot all youth are equally at risk A child’s psychosocial makeup & environment are better predictors of online risk than the technology he or she uses No single technological development can solve youth online risk
    15. 15. What else we know …from youth-risk research: “Youth who engage in online aggressive behavior … aremore than twice as likely to report onlineinterpersonal victimization.” – Archives of Pediatrics, 2007
    16. 16. Perception => reality:The power of ‘social norming’Source: Craig & Perkins, Hobart and William Smith Colleges 2008
    17. 17. Reinforcing social normsSource: Assessing Bullying in New Jersey Secondary Schools: Applying the SocialNorms Model to Adolescent Violence: Craig, Perkins 2008
    18. 18. Our report to Congress, June 2010...“Promote digital citizenship and newmedia literacy in pre-K-12 educationas a national priority.” – Youth Safety on a Living Internet: Report of the Online Safety & Technology Working Group
    19. 19. ‘With great power comes great responsibility’“ As a society, we have spent too much time focused on what media are doing to young people and not enough time asking what young people are doing with media. Rather, we need to embrace an approach based on media ethics, one that empowers young people to take greater responsibility for their own actions and holds them accountable for the choices they make as media producers and members of online communities.” – Prof. Henry Jenkins, USC
    20. 20. Why citizenship?• It’s protective• Fosters critical thinking• Promotes agency, self-actualization• Turns users into stakeholders, citizens• Supports community well-being & goals