What do you see as schools’ responsibilities when it comes to preparing young people for this new world?
There once was a time where the real world and digital world were considered to be separate worlds, but now they have meshed together. Our digital identity is created by us, we get to portray how we’re seen in the digital stage (well most of the time, there are instances such as tagging and sharenting where we do not have control) whereas when we are born we already have things that define our identity. For example, when you’re born you are assigned a gender – you’re a boy a girl, you’re born into a certain race or ethnicity. Of course, your identity outside of a digital platform will influence how you chose to portray and conduct your selves in online.
Nathan Jurgenson’s article, The IRL Fetish, argues that “The clear distinction between the on and offline, between human and technology, is queered beyond tenability.” Meaning that the online and offline worlds have become so intertwined that they mutually affect each other. The way students conduct themselves online will affect them offline and vice versa. One of the responsibilities schools have towards their students is to prepare their students for a future that runs on technology.
Just as we teach students how to function in society we must teach students to function in a digital society. Educators should teach students to know that what they do online have real-life consequence. And that what they do offline will have not just consequences offline and online, but their actions will also affect others. Students must learn digital literacy and digital citizenship in order to help them properly conduct themselves in a digital society.
What Digital Literacy and Digital Citizenship?
Digital literacy is defined as the “ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills (Digital Literacy).” Digital Literacy comprises of eight components:
- Function Skills
- Effetice communcation
- The ability to find and select information
- Cultural understanding and social understanding
- Critical thinking and evaluation
Digital citizenship is defined as “the responsible use of technology by anyone who uses computers, the Internet, and digital devices to engage with society on any level” (
- Digital access – full electronic participation in society
- Digital commerce – electronic buying and selling of goods
- Digital communication – electronic exchange of information
- Digital literacy – teaching and learning about technology and its use
- Digital Etiquette – electronic standards and conducts of procedure
- Digital Law – electronic responsibility for actions and deeds
- Digital Rights and Responsibility – those freedoms extended to everyone in a digital world
- Digital Health and Wellness – physical and psychological well-being in a digital world
- Digital Security – electronic precaution to guarantee safety
How can we take up the amazing possibilities of this new reality while also addressing the considerable challenges?
By taking into account the positive things technology has done for and build on them. And on the other hand, also take into account the negative things that technology has done and either solve them, adapt to them, or cope with them.
Here are some of the possibilities and challenges technology has given us:
- Long-distance learning
- Online classes for single parents
- More accessible learning
- For students who are sick with mental illness or physical illness that prevents them from going to a physical class
- No problems with transportation
- Less expenses on gas
- No morning/evening traffic rush
- Less pollution
- Physical Education – no pressure to perform with the peers
- No redlining of schools
- Students must have access to a device
- Uneven distribution of resources
- Some students are able to do more because they have better devices and resources
- If a family has many kids there might not be enough devices to go around
- Product life cycle
- Devices have to be changed every few years
- Students must have access to wi-fi
- Physical education – no gym class, parents must encourage their kids to exercise
- Difficult to have hands-on learning
- Difficulty for students to physically work on a project
- Difficulty using modelling as a teaching method
How might the education system need to change to address this new reality?
- Destigmatize technology
- Embrace technology while at the same time not neglecting hands-on teaching
- Enrich education
- Weave technology through the learning process
- Make sure that technology is a conduit and tool used to teach. Technology is not the teacher.