Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Educating the Digital Citizen

"Come mothers and fathers, throughout the land. And don't criticize what you can't understand.  Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command.  Your old road is rapidly agin. Please get out of the new one if you can't lend a hand.  For these times they are a changin."
     -Bob Dylan, 1963

     The technological innovations and achievements of the early part of the 21st century have made it abundantly clear that we are in the midst of a "digital revolution".  A revolution that continues to accelerate change at blinding speeds, with no apparent end in sight.  A revolution that provides opportunities that ultimately benefit both the individual citizen as well as the collective "global" community. A revolution that continues to create far reaching, cross generational impacts.  A revolution that allows for endless opportunities for human connectivity and collaboration.
     As 21st century citizens it is critical to the social welfare of our society that we are aware of the power harnessed within this digital world. Essentially there is virtually nothing that cannot be accomplished with the utilization of our electronic devices. (ie. IPad, Smart Phone, Lap Top etc.) We shop, we lend, we chat, we exercise, we play games, we self educate.  The possibilities are endless! While the advantages and privileges gained from our digital citizenship are clear, it is equally important that we embrace the responsibilities that come with it. 
     As parents and educators we cannot afford to "get out of the new road". There is too much at stake to allow our children to pursue, new and changing digital opportunities, without the proper guidance and support.  We owe it to our children to continue to educate ourselves about our own roles as digital citizens.  We must model appropriate digital usage and behavior, as our children seek to establish their own identities as digital citizens.  This is the world that they will inherit in the future.  We must empower them to do so with confidence, when the torch is eventually passed.
     As parental and educational leaders, it is critical that we present a balanced view of both the positive and negative impact of digital technologies.  There certainly are clear and present dangers that exist.  With the potential misuse of social media, emails and texts, there can be life altering consequences for both the victim and the perpetrator.   States and counties across the nation continue to draft social norms and laws that seek to create effective parameters.  The hope is that they will ensure the safe use of all digital technologies and resources.
      Limits should be put in place to protect the young digital user. However we must be careful that the restrictions do not become completely prohibitive. Thus preventing their ability to grow as digital citizens or to gain from the intellectual value of the various digital resources.  
     There is positive growth potential available through the use of social media. The members of my PLN (professional learning network ) can attest to this.  We need to share with our children, what we have learned, how we use it and how to transform it into a powerful and effective learning tool. Our ultimate hope is that we can help guide and nurture productive citizens of the 21st century, digital or otherwise.
      Yes " These Times are a Changin" and will continue to do so. However, " getting out of the new road" and casting a blind eye, when it comes to something as important, as guiding and educating the 21st  century citizen, is out of the question.  Our children need us now, more than ever.

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