What is digital citizenship?
Why is digital citizenship important in online learning?
Digital citizenship could be an important aspect in that it is the basis where we would develop our relationship with others on the networks, in the forms of communication, cooperation and collaboration using various tools and media. This is important in our life-long learning in the communities and networks, where our identities online would lead us to further growth and development within local and global communities.
I have an interest in digital citizenship, and have explored some of the aspects that relate to digital scholarship (see this digital scholarship too for more resources).
Would digital citizenship be one of the most critical elements in Teaching and Learning in Distance and Higher Education?
While Jenny and her colleague George are starting the First Steps in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, I was particularly attracted to comments by George:
“I do not want First steps 12 to “descend into anarchy”. But then I have never equated anarchy with chaos. However, I do not regard fslt12 as anarchic in conception.”
Will a MOOC descend into anarchy? I don’t think any MOOCs in the past had become an anarchy, and that there was not much evidence of participants to “overthrow the authority”. There had been incidences where “perceived” few participants who strongly objected to the views of facilitators or other participants, and were even considered behaving as “trolls”. This was unexpected in the case of MOOCs (in CCK08), but even then this wasn’t what was designed out of the course, but had emerged out of the course, due mainly to the differing views and perspectives of participants, and their values associated with the pedagogy involved in MOOC.
To this end, I consider learning through such incidences would be highly valuable, as to re-think about why, what and how to handle or resolve the issues or differences in perceptions and opinions, in case of difficult and challenging scenarios in an online environment, such as MOOC.
This could be one of the most important first lessons for both online teachers and students, as they would soon find that they could also be exposed to various levels of criticisms, critical comments from people of different cultures, and strangers or agents. They may be subject to “directions” or “coercion” to conform, accept the rule setup in the networks or by individuals who they are associated with.
Would there be a need of protocol, a negotiated set of strategies for dealing with any online perceived “trolling” behavior or conflicts that may jeopardize the learning, especially in networked learning and MOOCs? Should MOOC be “constrained” in a similar way as that of the institutions? To what extent should the imposition of rules and protocols be “enforced? I would further elaborate that in the last part of this post.
So what is the lesson from some of our past experiences in MOOC? On top of the awareness and understanding of cyber-safety, it is crucial to develop critical technology and media literacies (digital literacies), and critical thinking capability, as discussed and presented by Alec Couros in this week on digital citizenship (see this digital citizenship too).
The first step towards establishing such a digital identity would be to understand the need of such an identity.
“Digital identity is a psychological identity that prevails in the domains of cyberspace, and is defined as a set of data that uniquely describes a person or a thing (sometimes referred to as subject or entity) and contains information about the subject’s relationships to other entities.”
Why would I like to have a digital identity?
I would like to establish a digital identity for reflective learning and collective and collaborative inquiry (including appreciative inquiry), and to develop media literacies, creative learning, change management and critical thinking skills.
What would such identity look like?
My digital identity could be associated with that of a visitor and resident, depending on the context. I would swap my identity based on my needs of information, network connection and networked learning in that environment. What is crucial is to ensure that my identity is reflective of my ethical, educational and religious beliefs, where my philosophy of life is based upon.
What have you done to intentionally manage your online identity? What tools and processes are you using?
I managed my online identity through continuous reflection, a conversation with myself and others, and a critical review of my own strengths, weakness, with opportunities, challenges and threats on a life-long basis. I would use sensemaking and wayfinding as the principal “tools” in guiding me through. My identity would be further refined through an interaction with networkers, communities and networks as sounding boards for me to re-test, re-check my virtual and networked identity within the community.
I have used a variety of tools and networks in expressing, sharing and “disclosing” my online identity. These include my blog here, my online presence on Facebook, Twitter, Google Hangout, Delicious, Google Reader, and many other tools as shared here in my PLE/PLN. I don’t think my identity could be “represented” by one tool or a network, and so I am who I am and I am who you or we are (when connected or even disconnected) would likely be a more holistic description and perception of myself.
What should the role of educational institutions be in assisting in the development of a learner’s digital identity?
Both educational institutions and educators could play a significant role in assisting in the development of a learner’s digital identity. This could start with the provision of flexible and virtual learning platforms – including virtual learning environment, and the extension of Web2.0 tools as a provision. I have shared my beliefs about personal learning and institutional learning here.
Here is another way of promoting the institution and individual’s identity within the institution.
With the likelihood of learners having a tarnished digital identity, how important will the concept of ‘forgiveness’ be in the future of our children.
I don’t think forgiveness could be “easily” granted in an open networked environment. This is also the case in real life situation. Even when someone apologised, does it mean that ALL those victims involved would forgive? I don’t have the answer, but I do believe that humans have a compassionate heart, who would forgive if the other parties truly and fully repent. This is manifested in many religions, and as a Catholic, I would follow my Christ in his teachings about forgiveness. If I can’t forgive, then how would I expect others to forgive me? I understand however, that this is easier said than done, and I am still learning this, may be the hard way. Also, forgiveness doesn’t mean that we would forget about the incidences, only that we should learn how to manage and handle the situation in a better or different way when it occurs.
As an example, the case scenario quoted in Asians in the Library: Know Your Meme – story of the ‘UCLA Racist Girl’ well illustrated different views and perspectives about people of another culture. Is it due to racism, personal dislikes of certain behavior, or just a rant to voice a personal disgust of people coming from a different background?
This could challenge us to reflect on the significance of open, free speech, and how one’s personal views and opinions could impact on others. It is also reflective of one’s philosophy of life, and how one would like to be perceived and “judged” by others in the networks and community at large.
What are some of the ethical issues relating to openness and digital citizenship?
I would like to reflect more deeply on Jenny’s post relating to the posting of children’s pictures and disclosing of personal details and relationship with our or others’ beloved ones? Should we ask for consent before posting any pictures in open spaces? This is a difficult question, and I don’t think there is one single “right” answer. Would some people be offended by “us” posting their videos, pictures, or artifacts online without their consent? To what extent would this be a “breach” of intellectual property?
I think the intention of posting of those pictures or videos of children is important too, whether it is for “educational and learning” purposes, or merely as a way to promote oneself or as an advertising or marketing tool for profits. I could see lots of Youtube videos were posted by the parents, whereas the children or even the toddlers have little to say, with regard to the agreement or consent in such postings. What are the implications of such postings to the people involved?
Here in Sarah’s post is another good example illustrating the importance of context where the pictures and images are posted in blogs or networks on FB. The posting of pictures are both legitimate and necessary in lots of online networks and communities. However, some of these postings, pictures and videos could easily cross the lines, in a formal institutional learning environment. It is imperative to ensure that risk management measures are in place. This may include adequate warning that the content could be offensive to certain readers or audience, and be restrictive to certain groups of children in order to mitigate the risks or circumstances. This would ensure both the educators and learners are able to share their learning in the discourse, without the fear of reprisals or be disciplined due to the breaking of rules and regulations.
What are the assumptions behind these ethical issues and intellectual rights challenges? How would you interpret your rights in posting and sharing your or others’ personal pictures or videos? As educators, how would we model those “behaviors” to others?