YOLO – You only live once and that includes BOTH your ONLINE and OFFLINE life!
To put things in perspective I’ll start with this example – online dating. Hold on, I know this doesn’t relate to school BUT give me a chance! In a roundabout way it does!
“Back in the day” (I’ll go on a limb here and say 90’s to early 00’s) dating online was considered obscene, it was dangerous and obviously a hoax! If someone were to go on a date with his or her online match it usually wasn’t a great situation. Fast-forward to today and online dating is so common it’s hardly a reason for conversation. So many people meet their significant other online and without hesitation. Ever wonder how this came to be?! Well, individuals’ digital identities grew. As mentioned last week, while cyber sleuthing, it’s easy to find out A LOT about an individual just by typing their name into Google. A digital identity is a permanent record online and it duals as a resume. What you post on the Internet is there for anyone and everyone to see.
To deepen the discussion, as teachers we are concerned about not only digital identities but digital citizenship as well. So now instead of just ‘what you may look like online’ we have to be concerned with what you are ‘doing’ online (i.e. What you post, what you say, who you talk to, etc.) Digital citizenship goes beyond the basics. I think of digital citizenship as being like a Canadian citizen. As a Canadian I have rights and responsibilities and I am an active member of society. Well, those rights and responsibilities of being a Canadian citizen carry over to the online world. Online, I also have rights and responsibilities to uphold while participating.
The way our technology world is developing is almost hard to keep up with. Our society has been consumed with constant documentation. Most forms of social media have options for you to ‘be live’ so you can share your every movement with your followers. This constant documentation supports exactly what Jason Ohler is talking about in “Character Education for the Digital Age”. Jason states that online and offline are no longer two separate lives, but rather one life now. Prior to this constant documentation many individuals would try to keep their online and offline lives separate. However as Jason mentions, this is not realistic and we need to look at online and offline as one, fluid life!
To further elaborate ‘documentation’ I’ll use the example from this week’s Ted Talk “One Tweet Can Ruin Your Life” by Jon Ronson. He brings to light how trending topics and hash tags are often negative ones that can quite frankly destroy a person’s life. His example of Justine Sacco’s one tweet that was supposed to be meant for her 170 Twitter followers “blew up” the internet and was world wide within hours. This proving that her online and offline lives were indeed not two separate lives and what she posted on social media greatly impacted her offline life.
This story is similar to another “Twitter takeover” when Ricky Gervais tweeted about a women ‘trophy hunting’ and again within hours it was trending the web and this woman who had a seemingly quiet life was now in fear of her and her families lives.
You can watch the Netflix documentary “The Women Who Kill Lions” to get a closer look at the life of Rebecca Francis and to see how Ricky Gervais’ tweet impacted her life. (Spoiler alert: It was NOT a positive impact).
Both of these Twitter examples show two separate women who posted something online, not intending to truly offend people, nor with the desire to be famous world wide for something negative. What these women posted greatly impacted both their digital identities and digital citizenships and the results had a great impact on their lives offline.
So as educators we know how powerful the Internet and social media can be, so how do we teach students to use the Internet safely and positively? Well, I think Jason Ohler does a great job of introducing the idea that students have one life. That it’s important to incorporate technology in the classroom since outside of the classroom the Internet will still be there. We need to help students understand the consequences that can happen when they use the Internet. We want to help students make safe, conscious choices and to understand that their offline presence is directly impacted by their online presence. So with that in mind what will our classrooms look like?
Well for me, I’m still trying to figure that out. What I do know is I want technology to be present. I want it to be a positive tool and I want students to use it responsibly. I do NOT want to block sites and restrict use as that doesn’t teach great practices for when kids are freely using technology and social media outside of the classroom. I plan on using resources such as “12 Resources for teaching Digital Citizenship” and “15 Resources for Safer Internet Day” to help me achieve my above goals.
It will be extremely important that I continue my own education in regards to technology and that I am aware of social media uses so that I can continue to educate students and not be ‘left behind’ in this constant developing tech world.
Do you have any tips on teaching technology and social media use in the classroom?
Let’s keep the convo going!