During the past few months in this course we have explored a large number of topics related to digital citizenship the complex nature of how our digital world impacts identity. In the past there was this idea that we had two separate identities, one in the online world and one in the offline worlds. However, as our participation in digital culture and media has evolved, the idea of digital dualism or an augmented reality is a better way to describe how our digital world shapes everything from our relationships the way we view the world. This idea that we never fully log off impacts our responsibility as educators to teach and model digital citizenship in schools. Is the term “digital citizenship” becoming dated as well? Should our responsibility be to teach and model citizenship in general? Should we stop there or should we push and challenge students to move from digital citizens to digital leaders?
What is the difference between a digital citizen and a digital leader? A good digital leader can be a digital citizen, but a digital citizen isn’t necessarily a digital leader.
Couros defines digital leadership as:
“Using the vast reach of technology (especially the use of social media) to improve the lives, well-being, and circumstances of others.” (From, Digital Leadership Defined)
Jennifer Casa-Todd interprets digital leadership as encouraging student to use technology and social media to make a difference in our world by empowering others who have no voice, addressing societal inequality, promoting important causes, learning and sharing, and being a more positive influence in the lives of others. By being a digital leader students from apathy to action becoming enlightened, empowered, empathetic, ethical, and engaged citizens.
Digital citizenship and leadership is embedded across all renewed Saskatchewan curricula through cross-curricular competencies and broad areas of learning. Just as citizenship and leadership is taught and modeled through the curriculum and broad areas of learning, Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship are intertwined and intermingled. Citizenship and leadership cannot be a one and done type of lesson. It must be embedded into your daily conversations, tasks, inquiries, and teachings. This transformation from digital citizenship to digital leaders allows for critical thinking, collaboration, initiative, adaptability, communication, synthesis, curiosity, and imagination, which are essential skills in the Saskatchewan curriculum. Additionally, it achieves the goal of multiple literacies allowing students to construct knowledge, explore and interpret the world, express understandings, and communicate new meanings.
I must admit, I was feeling a lot like Claire, coming into the class feeling confident in my ability to teach and model digital citizenship, but as the weeks went on, I realized I had much to learn and many ares needing growth. I am now feeling renewed and refreshed my commitment to being a digital leader in my school. Teachers need to shift their view from the “I should…” to the “How can I?” thinking critically about how we can incorporate digital citizenship and leadership into our daily teachings. This past year I took on a new role as Teacher Librarian and part of the reason I did was so that I could take on more of a leadership role within the school. I am excited that the role of the Teacher Librarian is changing. TLs are no longer the keepers of information, but rather media specialists and educational leaders. TLs collaborate with other teachers to implement engaging and innovative technologies to improve student learning, engage students in inquiry based learning to help develop multiple literacies, and teach students how to use technology to find information and with the information the ability extract and synthesize it to formulate new meaning. Through my role as a TL I am able to be a leader in helping teachers model and teach the Saskatchewan Digital Citizenship Continuum from K-12, Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship, and RCSD’s Essential Skills of 21st Century Learning.
As an educator and future parent, I need to model digital citizenship and leadership in my own online identity. We are living in a world where everything we do is immortalized on the web, therefore what may be a silly mistake is no longer forgotten. Although I try to model engaged citizenship in unmediated publics as well, our presence in networked publics affects us in unique ways: Four properties—persistence, searchability, replicability, and scalability—and three dynamics—invisible audiences, collapsed contexts, and the blurring of public and private. As the context of our online identity is open to interpretation by others and is everlasting, it is extremely important to portray yourself the way you want to be remembered. With that being said, it is also important to model empathy and encourage our students, parents, administrators, and society to be empathetic to mistakes made online.
Parents of our students need guidance and reminders that although their children have grown up around technology, they are not automatically positive digital citizens. They still need to be taught how to be positive members of society both online and offline, they need constant reminders and conversations, and they need to be empathetic.
I will continue to be a digital leader in my school, my PLN, and family. My impact may be small to start, but hopefully by modeling my own leadership, I can make a difference and motivate a teacher, student, or family member to make a change and become a digital leader as well.