We learned how to use silverware at the dinner table because it’s polite. We were taught to hold the door at the grocery store for the young couple behind us struggling with their toddler; it’s just the right thing to do. At stop signs when more than one person has arrived at the same time, we wave them on. Why? because it’s the Midwest no one’s really ever in too much of a hurry. And best of all none of us can walk across campus without receiving a greeting, smile or a wave. We do all these things because they are how the culture we grew up in functions. Today kids are growing up completely surrounded by technology with little idea of how to be a polite, smiley citizen in this society. Present generations get to pioneer the concept of digital citizenship, so let’s do this right!
Digital citizenship is the way anyone represents themselves online and in the digital world. Previous eras have experienced situations like this; how many authors have we studied with pseudonyms to hide a personal trait or politicians who were known by colored nicknames painted by their views or actions? The digital world is our new frontier and space to create yet another persona. One article comparing the learning habits/outcomes of two different technological experiences, linked here, mentioned teaching students to post “as if an adult is in the room”. With a mind set like this, students can stay true to themselves and still thrive as a digital citizen.
In the spirit of staying true to one’s self, let me talk about language for a minute. Those of us who endured Grammar & Linguistics know all too well how a child’s environment will have endless impacts on their language and dialect. Teachers must remember a child’s (in)ability to use Standard Written English DOES NOT make them stupid/hopeless/dumb. Another article I read talked about this topic and I found it incredibly fascinating. If a student types the way he or she speaks, does that make them a poor digital citizen? I don’t think students should have to alter their learned language to be a part of the digital world. Here is the article from a national journal analyzing this topic. I believe every student should be given the tools they need to say what they have to say and teach the world how they see us all, no matter how they are gonna say it.
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