BISBuzz Digital Citizenship Integrity, Caring and Respect

Part 4: Integrity, Caring and Respect

Learning Technologies as an Educational Responsibility

The motives for introducing technology into schools and classrooms to support and enhance learning are numerous; some of these I have briefly introduced in previous articles. Students harnessing ready access to the vast quantity of available information to support their own learning, in conjunction with the ability to engage with social learning arguably presents one of the most powerful catalysts available to learners and teachers. This hyperconnectivity and the ubiquitous nature of information is ripe for employment to support learning.

Over the last decade or so technology has flourished as an additional tool to support  social interactions. For young people today it is an integral part of how they initiate, conduct and maintain their relationships in and out of school. In addition, in order to employ technology as a tool for learning, increased demands are placed on students to communicate and participate as part of an online community. Our increased provision in learning technologies supports us in addressing the skills required to communicate effectively and appropriately within this virtual domain.

Our Online World

Prior to the prevalence of online social interactions which are commonplace today, parents and schools sought to educate children about how they conduct themselves in the “real world”.  Parents and teachers worked to teach manners, respectful behaviour, integrity and develop young people with a caring nature. These words lie at the core of our school mission statement and represent our choice of words for characteristics which society has long deemed desirable.

In an era of social media and a never before experienced level of online social interactions it is possible to overcomplicate the implications of these new tools and behaviours. We as adults responsible for developing preparing young people for the world still strive for the same things: we want the young people in our care to demonstrate integrity, care for each other and remain respectful and safe. Although they these are demonstrated within a different world, our expectations remain constant.

Our Online Footprint

Social interactions conducted online are still social interactions, and should still be conducted in an appropriate manner. Young people growing up in a digital world do have additional pressures; these interactions conducted within social media are often public, often preserved and once issued very difficult to retract. A trail is left and this forms part of an individual's online presence. It is this very public and everlasting nature of social behaviours which has changed, not the behaviours we expect or the way we might work to embed them in young people. An appreciation of these new implications is a critical part of a modern education. This understanding can only be achieved through discussion and modelling, using the tools and through careful attention to the similarities  and differences between the responsibilities of behaving appropriately on and offline.

In our preparation of young people for the world that awaits them it would be remiss to ignore this online footprint that they leave. It is becoming a prerequisite skill to understand that it is necessary to present and conduct yourself appropriately in both online and real interactions and platforms. This includes the control and understanding of your own rights and responsibilities when utilising social media and managing media which impacts on you. This footprint, made  up of your online behaviours and personal media should be viewed in the same way that any individual would view their own conduct in the physical world.

As we strive to nurture and develop Global Citizens who behave in a caring and respectful manner demonstrating integrity throughout, it would be remiss of us, as a school, not to endeavour to support our students as they ‘grow up digital.’  We want our students to confidently and appropriately engage and harness connections beyond their geographical boundaries. Here at BIS, Studywiz allows us to develop these skills and behaviours in a closed school environment where privacy and media ownership are easily managed. However, we must remain conscious that it is only through slowly and carefully opening up students to the online world that awaits them, that we best prepare them. Our increase in learning technologies not only places additional demands on this element of our provision but perhaps, more importantly, better places us to meet these goals. How else do we develop responsible digital citizens?