A VIP (Very important post) from Alec Corous on DigitalCitizenship

I don't have much time to give thoughts on this post from Alec Couros, however, it is brilliant and a must read for anyone trying to understand what needs to be done in schools to teach digital citizenship skills.

It is NOT, I repeat NOT a post to share with your students because of references to some videos we should not repeat, nevertheless we should know that they are there.

Several of the videos shown are key discussion points for my digital literacy material.

I'm mad!

It is heart breaking and yet it is important. We cannot sit idly by and let the base and offensive go viral while we sit back and say

“tisk tisk, blogs, wikis, podcasts, social networks, they don't belong in school.”

When we should be creating good material, we're creating no material.

Students have always needed help making sense of the world and having multiple viewpoints (other than that of their peers) is vital. We've relegated the Internet as n0-teacher space, telling teachers to stay away from myspace and facebook. What is wrong with us?

We have a lot of work to do and many people want to deny that there is anything to do but sit back and drink our coffee in the teacher's lounge and pretend that school is just business as usual.

Well, its not.

We're in a Hinge of History
As the great author Thomas Cahill postulates, there are turning points, very hinges of history upon which the history of the whole of mankind swing.

And if educators continue to stop their ears and say “Nah Nah Nah Nah, I can't hear you,” what is to become of us?

To ignore the societal changes is to not only to be deaf, dumb, and mute but truly is educational malpractice.

It is about safety, privacy, literacy, and my goodness, it is about keeping our society a good and civilized place to live. And some of these videos are not just deplorable, but just plain uncivilized behavior that not even a cave man would enjoy watching!

Does it mean youtube is bad? NO!!!!!!

Does it mean online videos are bad? NO!!!!!!

It means that we have work to do.

Where do we start? Each of us in our own classroom, civilizing. Discussing. Helping students make educated, informed, and varied decisions, in the presence of both peer feedback and adult-led feedback.

Add our voice of dissension to the cacophony of people that say “As long as it is popular and gets a lot of views, it is OK.” It's not! It's not ok! Who the heck cares if its popular!

And if you choose to sit here and read my blog, comfortable in your warm cozy chair and do nothing to change your world and create digital citizens in your sphere of influence then I'm afraid this big blue sphere is going to become quite an unpleasant place.

For all it takes is for those of us who should care to abdicate our responsibility to the excuse of “I'm about to retire” or “I'm just a newcomer” or “this won't be popular” or the deathknell of many a good educator, “I just don't want to get fired.”

There is a big difference in being respectable and being popular.

It is time to pull character education out of the shelf and inject it and ourselves into the world which we have become with our voices and all we have.

I'm angry and working with a few others to plan some work with one of my classes specifically addressing digital citizenship.

Thank you, Alec, I'm fired up and mad!

Mad at myself for not doing more.

Mad at people praising depravity.

And dog gone it, I'm mad at the educators who are so all fired stuck in their own habits that they refuse to open their eyes and see the approaching army.

We've got to protect our students from the world, but you know what in Web 2.0 — they ARE THE WORLD! If we don't talk about it, they create a peer-created opinionated world with goodness knows what type of mores and opinions about civilized behavior.

OK….I've got to stop blogging now. I'm still mad.

After reading Alec's post, if you're mad, do something about it and start with this.

What will you do to ensure that your students are effective digital citizens?

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10 thoughts on “A VIP (Very important post) from Alec Corous on DigitalCitizenship

  1. Amen! But we shouldn’t be all that surprised at the popularity of garbage, human nature being what it is. Sad, but true.

    W2 certainly is an interesting experiment in self-governance.

  2. Hi Vicki

    Your post inspires me to write. I endeavour to make a difference with the students by illustrating good examples of constructive Internet usage by adults and students. I encourage students and their parents to redirect their Internet energies towards constructive use of the medium through the creation of meaningful and practical web sites, blogs and the like.

    I live near the coast and some of the students are now posting short videos of themselves surfing online. They derive a better sense of the Internet’s value when they create their own material, review the surfing locale and post their own edited video footage on the web.

    Other students have been creating games using Flash and publishing their products on their own web sites.

    Some students have created blogs and wikis relating to history. Still in their infancy but it is a beginning.

    A friend who teaches in Singapore has created a series of blogs authored by himself and his students on environmental and heritage issues. The students contribute to the blogs and are actively involved in the community. They are linked on the left hand side of his own blog.


    I personally am not a big fan of MySpace. I have a background in design and I think it is simply unattractive. I feel that if students wish to publish we should steer them towards platforms such as blogs and straightforward web publishing. Not a strong argument, I know, regarding MySpace.

    I am of two minds regarding Facebook. It has potential but there is scope for unproductive usage of one’s time as well via this medium. I feel that blogs, web sites and wikis are far more productive.

    I feel that sharing good exemplars with the students and actually being a good exemplar oneself can be considered first steps. I am stating the obvious for many and preaching to the converted no doubt. These principles need to be shared with our colleagues and the wider community.


  3. It is the era of the Participatory Web… if we don’t engage and participate ourselves we cannot be the positive influences that we have the potential to be.
    Ban Facebook? How about use it appropriately instead?
    If students have adults (acting appropriately) in their network, then they have role models and societal expectations that they will be far more likely to abide by.
    I wonder how much of our time should be spent not just educating students but their parents as well?

  4. Vicki,

    You know I’m with you on this one. Not trying to add fuel to your fire, but I have been thinking this thought recently…

    Consider the concept of exponential growth in connection with schools trying to “catch up” in the areas of creating quality online material. We may be so far behind that we are unable to catch up with where things are. Like so many other curriculum areas, teachers who do care about digital citizenship may have been forced into a situation may have already been forced into a learning gap as new technologies continue to come along.

    In other words, we may be so far behind in what has occurred in the past 7 years in the online world, that it may be necessary to move on to the things that are new within the past year, at the expense of the background web apps of 2000-2007. In other words, many schools may have lost the battle of the advent of web 2.0 tools which are blocked is so many school systems, and need to focus on what is coming next. In my mind the use of cell phones, SMS, mobile web apps, mp3 players (all in one in the iPhone) may be a place to concentrate for those of us unfortunate ones in schools systems who are just now acknowledging that SmartBoards might not be a gimmick. [no kidding]

    Does this make sense? What are your thoughts?

  5. I am going to miss the live broadcast of tonight’s WoW, but I look forward to the podcast and hearing what the WoW crowd thinks of this pivotal issue.

    Thank you for twittering this important post. There is a lot to think about here and even more to do!

  6. Wow, Vicki!

    Your message is certainly from the heart and I’ll need a lot of processing time before I can respond in the only forum that matters, my classroom.

    We can’t protect our children by “shielding” them. Their only safety is in education. They need to know what the real dangers are in cyberspace and how to resist, combat, overcome them.

    This is definitely the conversation that needs to be taking place in every district in America.


  7. Vicki- I totally agree with you on this. This morning on the Today Show the parents of Megan Meier called for schools to do more about cyber bullying. My response? The schools and teachers that have embraced the 21st Century and are using tools of THIS Century have students who are prepared to be good digital citizens. Teachers like yourself who have taken on the Horizon Project and Flat Classroom Projects so that YOUR students will be ready to communicate with students that not only sit right next to them but sit in China or wherever. If MORE teachers would realize that we are part of the 21st Century now and would do more to teach the right skills and just as importantly teach the ETHICAL USE then we’d be producing the right type of digital citizens. We as parents also need to enforce good citizenship in what our children create. We need to be more active in their life and not so stuck in our own little world. I think that’s what’s happening with our parents today. It’s too easy to get trapped online and forget the world around us and forget to parent.
    My questions for you – what do you think the Bill of Rights for the Internet should be? Should we have this national or international? What can we do to encourage good ethics?

  8. Hi Vicki,

    I have been reading your views about the importance of digital literacy for some time, and like how you are extending these ideas by connecting with Alec Couros’ post about digital citizenship and the responsibility of citizens to make positive contributions to their society.

    Having taught high school science, I know that many students, given almost any implement or tool without a task or guidance, will find some way to misuse it. 🙂 This is not meant as an insult, but as a recognition of their dread of boredom and their need for constant interaction with their surroundings.

    My teaching experience also showed me the incredible potential that each one of my students had and (for the most part) their eagerness to make an authentic contribution to their world. The best teachers at my school were known for inspiring students to meet totally “impossible” goals or “unreasonable” standards of quality. In the peak of these tasks, students were tired and frustrated, but by the end, they were deeply proud of their work confident of their abilities, and transformed in their view of their role their community.

    From these observations, I conclude that teachers need to accept responsibility for learning to use new tools (e.g. web2.0) so that they can combine these skills with their knowledge of their content area and create opportunities that far extend the contributions they demand from their students.

    I think your global collaboration projects serve as examples of what can be done. I applaud your inspiring examples!

    Thank you,


  9. This is so true. Unfortunately, it is not new. Is this not the problem with other aspects of life, not just digital? How do we change the values and what is considered acceptable? We model and we discuss. Students need to be immersed into what is acceptable (aka more opportunities where it can be modeled) but also need to work on the parents in terms of appropriate internet use.

    I applaud this conversation as it needs to be spoken and action is long overdue.


  10. There is such great conversation on this post both here and on Alec’s website.

    skydaddy- Human nature is what it is, however, a complete abdication of an area of society by educators is partially to blame.

    John — Wow! Keep writing more. I think that your point brings up a valuable note — not everyone is going to “like” all services. We want to personalize our environment and experience online to our personal tastes and likes. So I see this less about the website chosen and more about thinking twice before acting and realizing that anonymity is an illusion!

    datruss — Yes, appropriate use is what it is about! Not misuse, not overuse, not abuse, but appropriate.

    Ric -Many schools are behind and may never catch up, until a mentality of closing out the world changes. However, with the gotcha mentality of many parents and school boards, who can blame educators for playing it safe?

    Danielle — We need to create some intentional course material. We need to talk about it. I have at least one ethical online question per week per class, however, I’m not doing enough.

    diane, jayf,hurricanemaine – I agree with you!

Comments are closed.