THIS JUST IN: In a historic development for the Internet and its users under 18, the Council of Europe today adopted a Recommendation – a comprehensive set of guidelines to European Union member states – for upholding children’s rights in digital environments, their rights as digital citizens. “How to better protect and empower children as rights-holders… is at the core of the new Recommendation,” the COE announced after I posted the following…
It has been a big year for digital citizenship, and what better time – at least here in the United States – to check in on its practice this July 4th week, one year since the Obama Foundation issued a call to look more deeply into its meaning (here‘s what they heard from us)? I was interested to see that not only did digital citizenship get even more play at this year’s ISTE, the gathering of more than 24,000 ed tech educators and exhibitors from 87 countries in Chicago last week, than it did at last year’s in San Antonio. It was also the singular focus of ISTE CEO Richard Culatta’s opening remarks.
We are progressing. I was delighted to hear Mr. Culatta say that posting appropriately online is not digital citizenship. “It’s online safety,” he said. Exactly. Telling our children and students to post respectfully and be good online is certainly better than telling them nothing, but notice that it’s telling citizens what to do. It’s top-down, hierarchical – digital dictatorship, not digital citizenship, I’d add. Digital citizenship – any kind of citizenship – is citizen-sourced. So it’s meaningful to the citizens, informed by their practice of it as their literacy grows. And (digital) citizenship’s literacy is trifold: it’s enabled by media literacy, digital literacy and social literacy, which develop with practice. So – for that practice – it must be about the agency, not the control, of the citizens (one form of control being “classroom management,” right?). And supporting that agency are the citizens’ rights – of expression, participation and association, as well as protection and provision, or education.
Student voice & participation
So by the very nature of citizenship, including the digital kind, those who set policy for the citizenry – whether in families, classrooms, schools or governments – need the citizens’ participation, or at least voice, in the policymaking. [Seemingly in illustration of that, almost a third of ISTE’s speakers were students: 876 of them, ISTE reports.] It was a privilege to attend the Global Student Voice Film Festival at the conference, where we got to watch the winners (2-min. student-produced videos on empathy) of its 2017-’18 competition. The festival is the brainchild of the very new Student Voice Foundation, which aims to “help every student and educator believe in the power of his or her own voice to effect positive change.” Read more