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Transcript of Digital Citizenship
By John Braga
Individuals Connecting with Communities
of Public Spaces
The Digital Divide
The Digital Divide
Earth Rise as Seen from Lunar Surface
The very structure of the world wide web compels us to consider a global perspective. The interconnectivity it fosters has shrunk our social world, much as the original Earth Rise image served to remind us of how small and precious our physical world is.
Possibilities such as Kiva's (n.d.) micro-loan program enable anyone, such as students and teachers, to meaningfully connect with people across the globe as easily as across the street. In this sense, digital citizenship is about global citizenship.
To me, a national perspective on digital citizenship is not merely about the fact I can read about the same story from the perspectives of the Edmonton Journal, National Post, and Montreal Gazette simultaneously; as I do almost weekly. Facilitating an understanding of Canadian that is both regional and national, rooted yet not parochial, is important. But it is not enough.
To me, what is more important about a national perspective on digital citizenship is about how my best friends and family can be physically divided while digitally connected. It is about how I use Skype for monthly tea chats with friends like Virginia in Toronto and Leah in Oxford. How I use email with family the Yukon. How I phone my mom or grandma in northern Alberta almost daily while walking home from school. And, how my boyfriend in Edmonton and I in Calgary use text messages to encourage each other to make it to 8:00 am classes. The strengthening and maintaining of these social bonds, despite distance, is how technology and digital citizenship helps to strengthen the social fabric of our geographically large nation.
When it has a local focus, our digital citizenship becomes almost indistinguishable from our "real" citizenship. Alberta Educaion (2013) recognizes this by expressing concern about how students' cyber conduct can carry over to impact the school community.
In a strange way our digital identities and citizenship can drive our view of the real world. My home town newspaper, the Elk Point Review, does not have any online presence whatsoever. Somehow, this makes my home town feel less real than London, a city I have never been to but encounter regularly in my online life.
As was alluded to in the global,
national, and local perspectives of
citizenship, being a digital citizen is about
connecting with other people. However, despite our
best effots to foster respectful interactions between
students this sometimes takes a destructive rather than affirming form. Alberta Education (2013) is concerned about issues of
cyber-bullying and how the school addresses these issues. We need to foster respectful and positive interactions between students in the digial realm.
While I was working on this presentation,
drinking my tea in the window of a Second
Cup, I took a 15 minute break to play
Minecraft. A guy who was walking past
tapped on the window, pointed at my
computer, smiled and game me the
thumbs up. My recreation in the
digital realm connects me to various
communities of shared interest (Minecraft,
Smurf Life, World of Warcraft, and Board Game Geek). Instead of being bound to the physical communities they are located in, students are able to search globally to find the communities they want to belong to. While this can be positive and fulfilling it can reduce their identification with the school community, as it is no loner the only or even primary realm in which they socialize.
Alberta Education acknowledges that the Education Act needs to be updated to address digital citizenship (2013). However, Pahlka's (2012) talk would suggest that a legislated top down approach to addressing digital citizenship is not effective; it would be to naive, slow, and clunky to provide what citizens need.
Instead, what we need is a permissionless, open, and generative approach to digital citizneship (Pahlka, 2012). A bottom up approach that is driven by citizens and not by government.
CyberWise1 (2011) acknowledges
that ownership is an important aspect
of digital citizenship. While we take for granted
that Google, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia are public
spaces, they are corporations functioning within the capitalist
system. What is best for the corporation is not necessarily what is
best for the public.
Michael Wesch's (2007) video about what it is like being a student today is a great example of this tension. 200 participants used Google Docs to create, store, and access a shared answer to this question. While it is wonderful that such a public collaboration can occur in an open space there are important about where the data lives (what and where is the cloud) or who holds copyright over the material?
(2011) speaks of
digital citizenship in terms
of digital literacy; navigating
the information superhighway.
The rules of the road are being shaped by convention and law. One convention that conflicts with the law is the strongly held belief by many digital citizens that information is or should be free. The sees finds positive expression in the open source movement and negative expression through digital piracy. How digital citizens create, share, consume, and critique ideas is being shaped right now; the final form that will be broadly agreed upon has not yet been identified. Personally, I am rooting for an open source oriented digital citizenship.
CyberWise1 (2011) points out privacy is an important aspect of digital citizenship. So I am going to keep my thoughts about privacy private. You can imagine that I said stuff, and some things about stuff.
A conversation about digital citizenship presupposes one has access to digital spaces. Naturally, one must as if access should be viewed as a universal right or a privilege? Rosling (2011) compellingly argues that all people desire a washing machine and it is inappropriate to block such a desire, due to the liberating effect it has on people, especially women. By analogy, excluding most of the world from digital citizenship would only serve to impoverish the world; everyone deserves the same kind of access to the digital sphere that the West enjoys.
CyberWise1 (2011) points to
participation as important aspect
of digital citizenship. Sometimes this
is framed in terms of access. Many
people, such as Pahlka (2012), presume
that younger citizens (sometimes stated as under 30s)
use digital technology without thinking about it as distinct from any other tool in their life.
The presumption is that older citizens avoid or struggle with the digital realm. While my grandfather refused to upgrade from a rotary to a push button phone my grandmother was emailing and texting long before my parents, aunts or uncles. She said it was the easiest way to maintain contact with her twelve grandchildren.
Alberta Education (2013) has acknowledged that
banning technology such as smart phones from the classroom will not work. Students have this technology integrated throughout their personal life and will expect access to it even while at school. McVerry (2013) goes further, in challenging the dichotomy between our online and offline lives; rejecting an online presence in the classroom rejects a substantial portion of our students' identity. We need to teach students responsible technology use in the classroom, and accept the fact that they are connected 24/7.
Elk Point Review
Rainbow Flag Breeze
The Canadian House of Commons
Johannes Kepler's 442nd Birthday
Wikipedia RU Censorship
Hanging White Sheets
Last and First Sight
John Braga (2014)
Alberta Education. (2013). Technology briefing: Digital citizenship. Retrieved from http://education.alberta.ca/media/7533793/digitalcitizenshiptechbriefin g.pdf
CyberWise1. (2011, June 26). What is Digital Citizenship? [Video].
Floyda007. (2008, May 15). Learning to Change—Changing to Learn [Video].
Historica Canada. (n.d.). Historica Canada [Website]. Retrieved from: https://www.historicacanada.ca
Kiva. (n.d.). Kiva [Website]. Retrieved from http://www.kiva.org/
McVerry, G. (2013). Why I am renouncing my digital citizenship. Retrieved from http://jgregorymcverry.com/digitalcitizenship
Michael Wesch. (2007, October 12). A Vision of Students Today [Video]. Retrieved from
Pahlka, J. (2012, March). Coding a Better Government [Video]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/jennifer_pahlka_coding_a_better_government.html
Rosling, H. (2011, March). The Magic Washing Machine [Video]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_and_the_magic_washing_machine.html