Upon reading this week’s articles and documents, I found one that particularly resonated with me. While the content was fairly thorough and important, I found the title to be the most noteworthy, as I thought it successfully encompassed my perspective on the matter of Digital Citizenship and the responsibilities that are associated with it. The article “Text unto Others… As You Would Have Them Text unto You” drove home the reminder that while technology is a vehicle that seems to zooming by us, as we run after it trying to catch up, the manner in which we should interact with it, from an ethical and socially responsible perspective, is nothing revolutionary.
The title, as many probably have already identified, is a nod to the “Golden Rule”, one of the oldest notions on which ethical systems have been built. The expression that one is to “do unto others as you would have them do to you” has been largely attributed to being first documented in the Bible, but has also been universally found in other classical literature and religious teachings. While the origins are debated, the importance this “rule” has played in ethical discourses across the world is largely acknowledged. It is therefore, not surprising, that it would still hold relevance today.
It is not so much the content of the rule that I found important to address, but the fact that it has managed to stand the test of time. While I agree that it is fairly ideal to treat others with the same respect for oneself, online or otherwise, I am also aware that people’s interpretation of how it is to be applied differs greatly. There are also those, who would have no qualms treating others poorly (due to various factors). The rule, therefore, while a great springboard, does have its limitations. Nonetheless, I still find it an important concept to explore with students. Introducing it to them, to get them to actively think about it is crucial. Asking them to brainstorm and discuss ways, in which this rule could be applied or broken online, would be a useful first step.
Now the facet that I would really stress to students is the longevity of this rule. In the same manner the Golden Rule was/is relevant before and after the influx of technology, so too should your conduct remain unchanged. What is considered ethically aware and socially responsible behavior in real life is just as applicable in the virtual realm. Stealing someone’s work online and claiming it as your own is no more acceptable than theft in reality. Calling them names or harassing them is equally terrible on Facebook as it is face-to-face.
I think, therefore, that the greatest challenge is to make ethically aware and socially responsible students in general – not just when using technology. I do believe that there is an added measure of convenience and anonymity that makes it easier to inadvertently and rapidly get involved in inappropriate technology behavior, therefore requiring specific attention, but also needing to be addressed in regards to one’s actions as a whole. Nevertheless, utilizing some of the great Digital Citizenship aids available would be a great place to start the discussion, when it comes to the technological and general aspect of the matter. Here are some resources that I have been introduced to or found so far (I’m sure some of you, if not all, are already familiar with some/all, but thought I would share anyway…).
Google’s Digital Citizenship Cirriculum:
Site for younger digital citizens:
A couple visuals:
Villiano, M. (2008). Text unto others… As you would have them text unto you. T.H.E. Journal, 35 (9). Retrieved fromhttp://www.thejournal.com/the/magazine/archives/viewissue/?issdate=9%2f1%2f2008
I definitely agree with you that students must learn to apply the Golden Rule not only in real life, but also online. It’s so important for us as educators to instill respect and responsibility in our students. Promoting it through their online activity is another way we can teach our students to be respectful, responsible citizens.
Thanks for your response J. I’d have to agree that instilling respect and responsibility in our students is key. How to successfully accomplish this, however, is still rather an enigma to me. I think that by modelling the correct behaviour ourselves, we lay down the foundation on which we can build. Basically, the remaining challenge will be to successfully make the concept of the Golden rule, ethical awareness and social responsibility “stick” in respects to technology and becoming upstanding digital citizens. The following infographic provides some suggestions as to how teachers can best approach a lesson (whether about digital citizenship or something entirely different) to make it “stick”. I found it rather simple, but insightful, so thought I would share…
Original image by Chris Lema: http://chrislema.com/sticky-teaching/
Initial source utilized (referenced and discussed image):
252 Basics Blog. Orange. 28 February 2012. Smart Teaching: Understanding What the Brain Can’t Ignore. Retrieved on October 18, 2012. http://252blog.com/2012/02/28/smart-teaching-understanding-what-the-brain-cant-ignore/