In our increasingly digital and connected world, it is imperative that we teach our children to be responsible citizens–both online and face to face. Online*, this means that they share appropriate stories and ideas with friends and family, give credit where credit is due, treat others with respect and report inappropriate behaviour. All of these things contribute to having a positive digital online presence. But while Digital Citizenship is about being a good citizen online Digital Leadership goes beyond this. Here is the post in which I clarify this thinking.
When I first thought about this idea, defined here by George Couros , and then Sylvia Duckworth and I collaborated to visualized this idea, I looked at them as somewhat distinct from one another. Yet the more I meet some of these amazing student leaders who use technology to share learning, promote important causes, etc*… , and the more I see students engaged in some powerful connected learning, I recognize that perhaps it isn’t a linear list afterall. This is what I’m now thinking (perhaps I’ll see if Sylvia has a better way to visualize this!).
And perhaps Digital Citizenship envelops or circles the whole thing??
The more I think about it, the more I wonder if Digital Citizenship really needs to come first ? When I consider of some of some of the fear-mongering lessons and messages we give students without a balanced positive slant, I really believe that these lessons should (or need to) coincide with opportunities for digital leadership rather than be separated from them. We are kind of doing it wrong if we have a Digital Citizenship continuum in isolation from building in opportunities to learn in the space via connected experiences. Check out this post by Andrew Campbell which also reinforces this idea.
Inspire Passion via Online Collaboration
Students are inspired by Kharishma Baghani, a young Kenyan student who invented an inexpensive water filtration system and connect with her via Google Hangouts on Air (Stay tuned for lots more opportunities to do this live). Here is the GHOA with St. Cecilia School in Florida:
Students contribute their ideas to the collaborative Padlet.
Both of these activities provide opportunities for students to learn about ethical and courteous ways to communicate online (which should be an extension of how to cooperate and communicate face to face in the classroom). Also, an explicit connection can be made to show how effectively Karishma is marketing the project, Matone de Chiwit (Drops of Life), and how well she is using social media Twitter and Facebook to promote awareness about her cause.
Teach Digital Citizenship with a Call to Action
As students learn more about this topic (through research), get to know and be inspired by Karishma, they are then encouraged to brainstorm ways in which they can use social media, and their own creativity to share their learning and promote awareness about water scarcity.
If students are under 13, the ability to share via a class Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook account can provide a powerful opportunity to recognize the power social media holds, while ensuring that students are not only in a guided environment, but that you are not breaching terms of service age restrictions. If students are over 13, they should be using their own names and developing their own online presence, with continued guidance and support from the teacher.
AND when communicating this process with parents, they will be able to see their children inspired to help others and using social media ethically and responsibly to do this!
This is my current thinking.
You may argue that this is what a student leader (remove digital) looks like and I would say, absolutely EXCEPT today any leader needs to know how to make use of the digital realm. You may also consider that not every student needs to or has to feel like they need to change the world, as Dean Shareski suggests here. I would say that students should be given lots and varied opportunities to be inspired by others and to know that they can if they choose to.
What am I missing? I would LOVE to have you challenge my thinking or present alternative points of view as I continue to flesh out my ideas about this important topic!
And of course, if you are interested in joining the Our Blue Earth project, please contact me, Fran Siracusa, or Jennifer Williams!
*The italicized statements were added after reading Stepan’s comment below.