In order to best address my final thoughts, I went back to my first thoughts where I explained what I wanted to get out of this class (see So Needy post that’s part of Collection I). What I wanted to learn was how to be a digital citizen in realms beyond my own as a younger person/student/librarian. What was I missing that was going on outside my own little bubble?
Primary teacher Elisha used digital citizenship as a way to become more aware of her surroundings, particularly how her surroundings are important in her teaching. The web does have so much out there (tools and information both) and they’re not always used for good, nor are they always safe. Her citizenship concerned these aspects much more than my own because she’s dealing with actual students. I don’t normally think about safety at my job as a librarian because so much of what I deal with is internal. High school math teacher Jennifer was also interested in models of digital citizenship in education, so she focused on ones that talked about getting kids involved as active participants in the world by using technology, along with issues of technology use and equity. Again, very different from my take. Dan, also a high school teacher, looked at digital citizenship models that could address his frustrations by mobile devices and how his kids behave in computer labs, specifically user agreements. Parent and middle school teacher, Brenda, was concerned with issues of safety as well as teaching and being a good role model for how to be a digital citizen. Her concerns were very centered on these issues, which makes sense given her passion for children. For student Hailey, that meant she saw herself as a tree representing digital citizenship. As her tree grew, the branches represented a path to establishing a quality she deemed necessary to be a strong digital citizen. These included: knowledge, communication, responsibility, participation, and respect. Not only that, but her definition of being a digital citizen translated to someone who was an informed person, not just an inhabitant in the digital world. For Casey, who works in eLearning & Distance Education, digital citizenship was about who she is online, how she utilizes technology, how she interacts with technologies and other. To her, the lines between digital and personal citizenship are rather blurred as your digital citizen is your personal citizen, just online. Sarah, the instructional designer, interestingly had a similar hope for the class: to “find out what it means to others to be a citizen here, and how can I help teach others to become more involved.”
I could keep going. But my point is that we all came to this class looking to gain very similar and yet simultaneously quite unique understandings of what it means to be a digital citizen. Seeing all these other issues that my classmates’ are concerned with has just made me so much more aware of all that encompasses being a digital citizen, and also all that I should be aware of as a future educator. There’s really no subsitute for being informed from real-life experience, whether others’ or my own. So maybe it doesn’t make sense for me to care about user agreements or safety when I’m being a digital citizen (and helping others be ones at well) when I’m at work. Maybe when I’m at home I care a little more about the persona I’m presenting to the world and pay more attention to being respectful. Maybe down the road when I’m in a more direct teaching environment, I’ll be cognizant of the issue of equity.
I also really wanted to learn more about the legality of being a digital citizenship, which I feel we definitely covered, or at least opened the can of worms. We got into some great discussions re: privacy and copyright and what that means for our communal, creative spirit and ability to innovate, which is exactly what I hoped to get from that. Originally, I asked “what does it all mean for us on a broader, more social level? What does digital citizen really mean and really get at? Citizen makes me feel like a part of some community, but then looking at what the digital part of that means.. I feel like I’m in a community whose personal rights have pretty much evaporated.,” and I have to say that a lot of our legal issues are going to have a substantial affect on our community on that social level. We have yet to see what kind of implications will arise from tight copyright laws and the creative economy. But I don’t doubt we’ll see some kind of build-up and then BOOM! Maybe change, or maybe what will change is the way we do things and progress as a society. Maybe our personal rights continue to evaporate! Who knows? It’s hard to say. But I do feel like I was able to get at what being a digital citizen really means. Now what does THAT actually mean?!
I’m much more aware of all these big ticket issues that I’m sure will only get more prominent over time. I’m definitely going to make more of an effort to be ADA-compliant and make my website more accessible, that’s an easy first step. Otherwise, I’m not sure my habits will totally change – I’ll just try and stay a little bit better up on how key topics evolve and change (should be a little easier now that I’m following some key players on Twitter). There’s just a greater level of awareness now-and going back to Hailey’s point about being an inhabitant vs a citizen – I think that awareness is the most crucial part to being a digital citizen today.