Skip to main content

Digital Contribution vs. Digital Citizenship

Last week's frigid weather not only prompted many school closings, it prompted some students to take to social media in a negative way. The reaction to the negative messages was swift and predictable with teachers, administrators, and parents calling for digital citizenship training programs. A common popular analogy suggests young drivers take coursework and an assessment before obtaining a license to legally drive. Shouldn't similar steps be taken before people put their reputations and futures at risk from ill-advised sharing on social media? 

"We need to look beyond the scary stats and help kids start thinking about the things they want to share with their families, with their classrooms, or with a larger audience." - Alec Couros

With the stakes being so high, it's hard to argue against teaching young people about responsible use and proper etiquette when using digital tools and social media. However, I would like to suggest another way. Educators should model, enable opportunities, and guide students in the ways of becoming digital contributors to learning. Here are three reasons why digital contribution trumps digital citizenship;

  1. Digital citizenship assumes a minimum standard. Learners can move beyond consumption of rules and regulations by sharing processes and creating products that contribute to a worldwide knowledge base. Teachers who model and guide digital contributions are raising expectations and going beyond the minimum standard. Digital contributors are developing the habits of relationship building, growth mindset, and lifelong learning.
  2. Digital contributors are taking ownership of their digital footprint. Self-publishing and entrepreneurial learning will increasingly gain prominence in a web 3.0 environment. People who conscientiously share their learning are building followings and reputations worth protecting. Naturally, digital contributors are less likely to risk damage to their work with dishonest or distasteful posts.
  3. Digital contributors are assigning purpose to their sharing activity by feeding and supporting the learning of others. Digital contributors are inviting learning relationships through conversation and the sharing of perspective. Digital contributors extend learning beyond the walls and schedules of the traditional classroom. Deeper and richer learning is the result of digital contributions. Digital contributors quickly learn the meaning of the phrase, "give more, get more". 



So, how does one become a digital contributor to learning? Engaging in Twitter chats, creating and sharing video and slide show presentations, and posting to blogs are popular ways for learners to share their knowledge and experiences. Digital portfolios are quickly becoming an essential component of writing and sharing to authentic audiences. Learners of any age can share processes, reflections, and products of their learning in a digital portfolio. Longitudinal tracking of progress make portfolios a powerful tool for sharing learning stories. (5 Reasons Your Portfolio Should Be A Blog - George Couros)

I am not opposed to the goals of students learning about, and living as, good digital citizens. However, too often the digital citizenship lessons involve someone telling someone else the rights and wrongs of social media use. Wouldn't it be better to provide students with an authentic canvas to share their learning? Raising expectations, modeling best practices, and building a positive network presence are better ways of helping young people make good choices when sharing online.


Does digital contribution trump digital citizenship?

How are you and your students contributing to the learning of others?


Related Learning Resources




Students as Meaningful Contributors - Langwitches Blog, Silvia Tolisano



photo credit: Remko van Dokkum via photopin cc 

Comments

Unknown said…
I really like the way that you have framed this as a case of "modeling" rather than of "gatekeeping." I don't see the need for a digital content 'license to drive' as much as the need for really great use of digital content within learning experiences.

I also think it is important to think about the idea that great use of any medium (paper, video, etc.) doesn't happen all at once. The first few hundred tweets I sent were mostly rubbish until I figured out what social media was all about. Can we allow a space and time for kids to be able to experiment and get better, rather than expecting them to be experts instantly?

Lastly, I think your point about making connections is an important one. The difference between social media and traditional media is that it about building a conversation and connecting with those that previously lacked connection and context. We are enabling a "citizenship" that isn't just about being informed. It is about informing others and sharing in the process of information. The digital contribution is how we get there.

P.S. This comment is a part of the #C4C15 project. Find out more here: http://bit.ly/C4C15
Robert Schuetz said…
Hello Ben,
Thank you for reading and commenting. Also, thank you for the helpful reminder - proficiency takes time. Your comment is contributing to our learning - what more could we ask for?!? Thanks again, Bob

Popular posts from this blog

"Five Reasons Why Schoology Rocks!"

Networking at IETC last week provided me validation in my choice for best learning management system, Schoology. Having used Moodle, Edmodo, Canvas, and Blackboard, I can tell you that these are all terrific products for digital instruction. However, for the past several months, I felt that Schoology was a better choice than these previously mentioned products. Many times, asking the right questions is a precursor to making sound decisions. Here's an article that serves as a guide to asking the right questions when choosing a learning management system:


10 Questions Everyone Should Ask When Choosing an LMS
Here are five reasons why Schoology remains my #1 choice for a classroom LMS: Full-featured classroom organization tools, a collaborative learning place for teachers and students, device-independent applications, Schoology API allows the program to play nicely with others, and the basic level instructional components are, and will always be, FREE.

1.  Schoology's classroom mana…

Good People; The Product of Good Schools

The nightly business reports frequently mention inputs and outputs. Gross National Product (GNP) is a widely recognized leading economic indicator. Widgets aside, what is the product of schools? Some of you want to jump on a table and scream, "children are not products!" Let this breathe a bit as you trudge forward.



In his recent post, Mark Heintz eloquently shares his ruminations to a question being kicked around in our Modern Learners community, "What do we want our children to be?" Credit Pam Moran, Ira Socol, and Chad Ratliff, co-authors of "Timeless Learning; How Imagination, Observation, and Zero-based Thinking Change Schools," for sparking this conversation theme. Timeless Learning provides interesting provocations, inspiring experiences, and compelling rationale for school change.

Like others, my school's leadership team is engaging in discussions about reimagining school to meet the needs of our modern learners. These conversations are seldom e…

My One Word for 2018 is Wisdom

Wisdom, according to Dictionary.com, is "the quality or state of being wise;
knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action;
sagacity, discernment, or insight."


"Any fool can know. The point is to understand."
This quote, often incorrectly attributed to Albert Einstein, provides an illustration of the value of understanding over knowledge. A simple search reveals this quote can be linked to the writing of mathematician, George Finlay Simmons


Narrowing my thinking to one word is an interesting challenge. I have gained a greater appreciation for words and how the combination of words can convey meaning beyond definitions, beyond knowledge.

Where are the resources for knowledge in a modern world? We purchased an Amazon Echo as a gift for my parents. "It's such a smart and funny device," says my mom. Alexa has a seemingly unlimited access to information, music, and jokes, but does she understand? Can robots and computers obtain wis…