Being Good Citizens and Digital Citizenshttps

Monday afternoon I read a Blog from Edutopia on what students really need to know about digital citizenship in a Blog by Vicki Davis. Edutopia, founded by the Hollywood guy, George Lucas (Star Wars fame) says it’s a K-12 site, but I’ve gleaned many a suggestion off this site for many a thing. Vicki’s Blog really hit home with some really good advice because we had a conversation in class regarding digital bullying and privacy protections.

eagle scout badgeDigital communications today is everywhere and in everything. If you don’t participate or include it, you won’t be successful. I just assumed that most – if not all – of my traditional age students would be savvy to digital anything. But to have a student share in this day and age that they don’t understand how someone used their information and pictures in a very wrong way is surprising. I guess I just thought they understood digital citizenship, how to protect your information, copyright, and professionalism. Don’t students understand that the professionalism of academics vs. how they interact in social situations is different? I assumed they would. Don’t they understand that unintentional statements or actions in our global business and social environment can have some really bad unintended consequences? I assumed they would. Evidently, they don’t have the skills to work out problems either. Do we have to remind them to be intentional on what they share? Evidently so.

Ms. Davis’s blog was about students being good digital citizens and how it impacts all learning and communication. She talks about the “9 Key Ps” of digital citizenship and communication: Passwords, Privacy, Personal Information, Photographs, Property, Permission, Protection, Professionalism, and Personal Branding, and how to use these keys.

So, in today’s class after Sheila Jarrell talked about student records, transcripts, the importance and responsibility to ensure that information is correct, we talked about “digital citizenship” and what that means to them. We were all over the place! Even at week 11 in the semester, most did not really understand copyright, or rights of themselves and others who create intellectual property, or the importance of citation. They did not seem to get why they can’t use an image from Google and not go to the actual source to see if there is permission needed (oh, and then cite it).

I asked them what they have posted of Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn right now – lots of sharing. Some had cell phone numbers and PO Boxes; even birthdays and addresses. Then I asked if they would share this with a co-worker. “Probably.” Would you share it with your supervisor? “Maybe Not.” Would you share it with the world? “No.”   I asked why. Responses were “Only my ‘friends’ will see it” – to “It doesn’t matter” – to “My privacy settings are good.” Really?!! Oh my goodness!

OK, so then we talked about information they saw or read on their media – what do they do with it? Well, they share it – they forward it – they respond to it – they slam it – whatever you can imagine, it’s done. Being a good digital citizen also means not using others’ information or property as well. Yep, that was confusing too. Frankly, I’m shocked. I will say, they did have a lot of knowledge on viruses and malware, but several of them had been hacked. Don’t ask me about their passwords (!!).digital think

The last part of class was that I could find them with little or no information. How surprised they were when I found them, their families, their addresses, and even their cell phones in a matter of minutes. So, if I can do this, what about a potential college, or an employer? We talked about what that employer might see and read. Some were deleting information immediately. (The conversation about where it goes will have to wait!)

Citizenship – digital citizenship – are abilities and awareness that students need to navigate the world, including communication in forms that have not even been created. Citizenship is what we do to fulfill our role as an inhabitant of the earth. Yes, I guess I expected these skills when they came to college and I, for one, was surprised that they didn’t have them. I wonder what experiences your students have had in your classes about citizenship .

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