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Character education for the digital age


As we prepare for the return of students to our classrooms, many teachers and schools will be considering the implications of their BYOD programmes and increased wireless access meaning more kids using digital devices in school. With such privilege comes responsibility, and a key focus for teachers, leaders and school policy makers must be on thinking through the implications of such decisions, and how this all contributes to the overall academic and personal development of our students. 

Jason Ohler has written extensively on using technology effectively, creatively and wisely, and is known to many NZ teachers through his keynotes and workshops at ULearn and other conferences here.  A couple of years ago he wrote an article in Educational Leadership magazine that summarises the dilemma very well. He writes..

Our challenge is to find ways to teach our children how to navigate the rapidly moving digital present, consciously and reflectively. How we meet this challenge depends on how we address the following fundamental question about teaching our digital-age children: Should we teach our children as though they have two lives, or one?

The article goes on to offer lots of food for thought and practical advice that could be useful to you at the beginning of this school year. For those with responsibility for creating school policies and procedures regarding the use of digital devices and the development of digital literacy, here are just a few of the issues that Ohler suggests a comprehensive digital citizenship curriculum  should address:

  1. Balance. Understanding past, present, and possible future effects of technology. Cultivating a sense of balance that considers opportunity as well as responsibility, empowerment as well as caution, personal fulfillment as well as community and global well-being. 
  2. Safety and security. Understanding how online actions might lead to harm to yourself or others. Includes protecting your own privacy, respecting that of others, and recognizing inappropriate online communications and sites (such as sexual material and other resources intended for adults).
  3. Cyberbullying. Understanding the potentially devastating effects of cyberbullying and how it violates ethical principles of personal integrity, compassion, and responsible behavior.
  4. Sexting. Understanding the negative consequences of using a cell phone to take and transmit pictures of a sexual nature of oneself or others.
  5. Copyright and plagiarism. Respecting others' intellectual property rights and reflecting on the legality and ethics of using online materials without permission (a complex and murky area of the law, bounded by "fair use" guidelines).

[this post originally appeared in Derek's Blog on 20.1.14]


  • Anjela Webster

    Kia ora,

    Great blog Derek. Very timely. I thought I'd respond with a shout-out for the cause, in an article just published this week from BayBuzz, a Hawkes Bay publication. I was interviewed in December by Keith Newman, and he has penned a great article, shining credibility on this area of need - a conscious mindfulness onine - in otherwords, citizenship, safety, media literacies, development of online identities etc.

    http://www.baybuzz.co.nz/archives/7189/      image


  • Derek Wenmoth

    KIa ora Anjela - thanks for sharing that link. The article is entirely consistent with the key messages from Jason - these are the key messages we need to keep focusing on. Good one!