I grew up in Lumsden, SK and this is a large part of my personal identity and worldview. You learn in a small town that if you are not kind to someone, or do something you should not, that people find out and they judge you based on this. Your reputation is built on your mistakes, successes and, most importantly, contributions to the community. People are slow to forget but also one can positively affect their reputation by contributing and being their best self. I feel it is quite similar with one's digital identity. The internet is slow to forget and also rewards positive contributions and interactions. We are all citizen's of the digital town, Internet-ville and we should be aware of how our existence affects others. We should also be mindful of how we are a global community online and how children are learning to become citizen's in this new settlement.
As a young person, I made mistakes in terms of not being kind to others. This was in person and so has been forgotten by most, except those that I spoke harshly to. I also contributed to my town by working at the gardens, playing sports, and even helping to fund-raise for and build the splash pad in the photo ($120 000 over two years). I am proud of who I am currently as a citizen and the contributions I have made and currently make to my community. I am also very aware of my online presence and do my best to show my family and values in my posts. But now youth must go through these stages of learning in the digital age where data never really goes away. It is a harsh lesson but one that young technology users must take to heart. As Mike Ribble says we must teach "Digital etiquette: rules and policies aren’t enough — we need to teach everyone about appropriate conduct online." I believe this to be one of the most important elements of digital citizenship, second only to digital balance, and knowing when to unplug! Same as the person who spends to much time at the bar or the VLT's, addiction will spill into all facets of one's life. Balance and well-being are key to a healthy and fulfilled life, online and offline.
Much like in a small town, there is wonderful things to do and see: sports, shopping, hiking, paddling, coffee shops, ice-cream, splash pads, sledding, volunteer work and so much more, but there is also the negative: alcoholism, abuse, theft, drug-use, and negative people. This is much like the internet, it is all there, you just have to choose carefully and wisely the path you navigate and tread. It is also our duty to help youth navigate these choices on their devices. You would not send a six year old to go out and explore the streets alone without guidance and clear expectations. Then why would you do that with them on their devices, as there is just as much trouble they could get into online as offline much of the time. The immediate threat to their safety is less apparent, but long-term there is definite risks to unsupervised online activity, whether it be severe online bullying, identity theft, catfishing and more. It takes a village to raise a child, even if that village is Internet-ville.
The problem right now is that as important as digital citizenship is, it is not being directly taught in schools with no real curricular outcomes attached to course. Futhermore parents aren't necessarily filling in the knowledge at home either. Despite the report for "Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools" recommending the importance of online safety and awarenesss being taught from K to 12, without a true curricular course or focus it seems to be not being taught widespread. Only teachers with an interest or awareness would likely take this upon themselves. I personally have received zero professional development through my division on including digital citizenship in our teaching of courses. I would argue that since the internet and devices has fundamentally changed the way the world works much like writing and math changed the course of human history, that it is no longer just about learning the basics of reading - riting - and rithmetic for an educated society but we should now consider digital awareness / citizenship as an essential skill for the future of our students and communities. And if we would like this to be taught, we should train teachers to do so and create curriculums that contain this essential knowledge. This would benefit our children, our communities, and Internet-ville!
2/19/2022 01:30:42 pm
Aiming for balance and well- being is so important in handling our online and offline lives. I agree with your thoughts that as we help and guide in other things, we being a parent and educator should explain the rules to our kids in handling devices. Training of teachers is also important as I was aware about digital citizenship and in my country still their is no education related to this. So, teacher's education is more important here.
2/21/2022 09:35:05 am
balance should be there in maintaining a digital and personal identity. along with students, there should be a training session for teachers as well to guide them about how to aware ourselves and our students about digital citizenship.
2/23/2022 10:35:45 am
Thank you for your very thoughtful blog post. It was well written and thought provoking. I work in a K-8 school as the Teacher-Librarian and my role includes literacy specialist - though most of this is not on Digital Literacies. My goal is to implement more DitCit lessons in the primary grades and your words struck me: "You would not send a six year old to go out and explore the streets alone without guidance and clear expectations. Then why would you do that with them on their devices, as there is just as much trouble they could get into online as offline much of the time." Our K- gr.3 students only use iPads at school and are restricted in what they use them for, but when they are at home, teachers have no control over what devices they use. How can I teach them about safety and responsible use?
2/23/2022 11:42:09 am
I appreciate how you explained digital identity by comparing the similarities of living in a small town to your life on the internet. I also grew up in a town of 1200 people and you are so right. When someone does something worth gossiping over, everyone will know in hours of it happening, However, I can name some wonderful people who made such great contributions to my town and I still really admire them to this day! Your presence online is really like your presence in a small town. This helped me realize how important it is to keep your digital identity and footprint healthy.
2/23/2022 12:06:08 pm
I absolutely loved the way you connected digital identity to small town life. So many people can relate to your thoughts and experiences Dylan. The need, as you suggest, for curriculum reform is indeed critical for students navigating our digital world. Sadly, too many educators shy away from this because its so new or they are uncomfortable or unfamiliar with the 'how-to's' of teaching this important content. Do you think policy makers should set up mandates for curriculum instruction? Is what is available in our divisions working? What role could school leaders play to encourage or promote to teachers?
2/24/2022 01:13:42 pm
Great post, Dylan! I share the sentiments of the other commenters on loving your comparison of the internet to a small town. I, too, grew up in a small town and can relate to everyone knowing about the good and bad things about everybody else. One thing I have noticed in several posts this week is the idea that our generation feels like to have grown up in the same time as the internet, so we had chances to make mistakes and not have them recorded forever online. I think this speaks to the importance of training teachers to explore concepts of DigCit and digital identity, as you mention. I would love to get more training on how to engage in this learning!
2/26/2022 09:12:28 am
I loved your analogy used throughout this post, it was very engaging and I was able to easily make connections with it. I think just as you and I are learning about digital citizenship and its importance we are realizing the only reason as you stated in your post is because we are taking interest in it not because we really knew about it before. This is where I think the lack of parental involvement comes into play. They are unknowing, and uneducated with this topic; just as I was truly before becoming a teacher and being reminded to watch what I put online but this class has also made me understand more about the why. Parents lack the knowledge because they were not given any. So where do we go from here? Not that I don't think parents are a lost cause but maybe they kinda are, only some will come to terms with the idea and take on the role of learning and teaching their children this concept. I think of social justice, racism, inclusion, etc... many of the older generation struggle with what a socially just society means and looks like (insert truth and reconciliation) , it wasn't until it became so embedded within the curriculum and how we teach that we began to see real change in society. This is how I predict digital literacy is going to go play out and it's going to have to start with curriculum development, teacher development, teacher PD, implementation, and then the change will occur.
2/28/2022 05:43:16 pm
You have quite a way with words my friend. I absolutely loved the analogy of living in a small town and life online. I too grew up in a town that was small when I lived there (now, not so much), but I too knew what it was like to have a reputation that meant something. I knew to follow the rules or the community and parents would on my case in a heartbeat. Maybe I understood the teachings of my father and teachers around digital citizenship so well because of having this experience. Playing telephone in the community was dangerous, and thus that feeling transferred online. Thanks for really driving this home for me.
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