Saturday, October 15, 2011

Teaching Digital Citizenship - It's Complicated

I just Read Joyce Valenza's blog entry "On Growing Knowledge Citizens." Joyce, as usual, sets the bar high for the teachers and librarians who follow her thinking.

Every time someone tags a photo, likes a Face Book page or posts internet links to a social link account like Delicious they are contributing to the organization of the internet. All these little actions add up. Of course the more thoughtfully, sensitively, and knowledgeably these contributions are the smarter the internet - our shared public knowledge-base will be.

Information literacy, the strand of learning that school librarians are teaching and publicizing in their schools, has long out-grown library skills and internet search strategies. Digital citizenship is now a big part of what students need to understand.

Philosophically I am on board. Practically, however, I struggle to understand what this means for me. Facebook, including my library Facebook page, is blocked in school. Google Docs can't be used on the library computers because of the old operating system. It is hard to talk about digital citizenship in the abstract. I also understand that social media can be distracting in the classroom...
Safety is paramount, but I also worry that by blocking social media sites from the view of responsible adults (such as teachers) a dark alley has been created for our students to explore on their own.