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Digital Citizenship

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Started by Isaac Day 10 Mar 2011 12:02pm () Replies (21)

So, what makes for a successful digital citizen?  Is it so different from just plain old 'citizenship'?  What are the differences? Are they one and the same... do the principles change? Add your thoughts to this post...


  • Emma Watts (View all users posts) 15 Mar 2011 10:10pm ()


    What's the difference?

    There is no difference between plain old ‘citizenship' and ‘digital citizenship'.  I agree with Anna that digital citizenship ‘has not always kept up and the 'private' world of the Internet has allowed people to feel free to do as they please.'

    It is therefore our role as teachers (the ‘guides on the side') to encourage all students and our communities to ask questions and to decide how to behave in an online world and in real life.  It is our role to challenge students to think about these ‘worlds' and analyze if there is any ethical difference between virtual and real. (http://ictpd-digital-citizenship-and-cybersafety.wikispaces.com/)

    Who owns citizenship?

    In reality most schools write their e-learning policy and agreements for the students.  Often it is complicated and in adult language.  So what does this agreement then mean to the 5 year old or even the 11 year old? Often it is read once and signed, perhaps once in the child's lifetime at the school or perhaps once a year. Does it have any significance in their daily lives?  The key to citizenship is ownership over e-learning agreements or codes of personal ethics for citizenship in both the virtual world and real life! 

    What's happening at Tahunanui?

    In my class last year we experimented with pulling apart our e-learning agreement against Andrew Churches concepts of; respecting yourself and others, protecting yourself and others, and respecting and protecting intellectual property (http://edorigami.wikispaces.com/The+Digital+Citizen).  This helped my class to understand and make the e-learning agreement a ‘living' document.  We linked it to taking photographs, blogging, Voicethread, emailing, Habits of Mind, Fish Philosophy and more.  We constantly linked it to our everyday life both virtual and real.  The best was when a student form last year came up to me the other week and said "I'm still using my Fish Philosophy!"

    This week we started working with our school's e-learning angels (students who help teach and support other students and teachers in their use of e-learning).  We took our agreement, cut it up an organized into the above categories developed by Andrew Churches - in our discussions the students decided that our e-learning agreement is far too wordy and that makes if hard for it to be alive and in the heart of our everyday lives - we need to rewrite (a job for the e-learning angels perhaps?) Surely any policy/document/agreement needs an annual review?

    Where to next?

    As a cluster we have had many professional development opportunities in digital citizenship.  Lead teachers, classroom teachers and principals have attended ULearn and Learning@Schools choosing digitial citizenship breakouts. John Parson's has challenged teachers and parents in the Whakatu Cluster to not see it as cyber safety but health and safety, and that there is no difference between our everyday and online ethics and behaviour. (http://www.simulate2educate.co.nz/). We've been challenged by Tony Ryan to question the difference between plain old ‘citizenship' and ‘digital citizenship'.

    Our challenge now as ‘agents of change' is to inspire our communities to develop their digital citizenship alongside their ‘real world' citizenship, with no differences in ethics because we are in the ‘virtual world'.  Alongside this it is important to understand that not everyone (online or in the ‘real' world) will follow these ethics and to develop an understanding of how to protect against others who are not ethical.   As guides we need to encourage students to ask questions about the validity of what we see and read in newspapers, on the television and online (check out the tree octopus website! http://zapatopi.net/treeoctopus/).  Teachers need to model protecting, respecting themselves, others and intellectual property.  We need to guide our communities to become citizens that respect and protect themselves and others in all ‘realities' or ‘worlds'.

  • Emma Watts (View all users posts) 16 Mar 2011 6:16pm ()

    An interesting response Isaac and one that certainly needs discussing further.  I agree with the possibility of a future where ‘the real money is made not in the creativity of the product or idea, but the advertising revenue that can be made by releasing that product for free in the market'  but I still think it is important to respect and protect the creative effort and livelihoods invested in copyrighted works.   Currently people are ‘making money' from their creative product or idea - it is their livelihood - should it therefore be protected and respected? I personally think so.

    What interests me is the concept of Creative Commons Licences (http://creativecommons.org/).  For example their Attribution-Share Alike Licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) - in which you allow others to share, remix under the conditions that you; attribute the work and share alike etc. is one way to protect/respect intellectual property.  Using Creative Commons licences can begin to encourage others to think about protecting and respecting the creative effort and livelihoods invested in copyrighted works.   After all, many of us believe that the purpose of using e-learning in our classroom programmes is to connect, communicate, collaborate and to create.  Surely any community (online or real world) for it to survive and thrive needs to develop ethics or laws to help protect and respect it's citizens?  

    The New Zealand Federation Against Copyright theft produced a leaflet called "Illegal File-Sharing: The Risks Aren't Worth It" www.nzfact.co.nz/press_releases/P2P%20Illegal%20filesharing.pdf which is a comprehension guideline for schools and businesses.  In the leaflet they state that you shouldn't upload copyrighted material, or file share online (on P2P networks) because you risk:

    • breaking the law
    • downloading a serious computer virus
    • sharing your personal data, which can lead to identity theft
    • getting exposed to pornographic materials

    They go on to state that: "Schools and parents are in the best position to inform students of the importance of respecting copyright and valuing the creative effort invested in copyrighted works. Further, as distributors, guardians and owners of intellectual property themselves, schools have a huge incentive (and responsibility) to instill in their students such respect and values."  Our communities need to understand both the advantages and disadvantages.

    As for Facebook and Google then it is our role to guide our communities through the potential mine fields and actually have this discussion with them, enabling them to make informed choices (and hopefully ethical!) about the information and images that they upload or download in the virtual world.  There is no easy answer.  What do others think?

  • Emma Watts (View all users posts) 20 Mar 2011 5:06pm ()

    Lol! Yes I can remember HMV...its quite interesting because I'm the same, all of my music is downloaded from itunes.  If the devices are all owned by the same person is it still illegal to download music onto several devices?  I agree we do need this debate - what would be interesting is for the lead/support teachers to discuss this next time we meet, then to go back to our schools and have the same conversations with our staff, students and wider community. Definitely one I will bring up with my student e-learning angels.  I don't think as teachers we can stop illegal down loading, ripping or burning etc.  but we can be agents of change and encourage our communities to discuss the ethics and begin to make moral choices - perhaps students could create their own music as a unit and then market it and begin the discussion there, how would they feel about their music, or ipad app or artwork being used by others?  It would also be a good opportunity to discuss creative commons an collaborative work.

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