The current digital revolution is probably one of the largest transformations to ever have taken place in human history. We’re all facing the challenge of living in the digital now and it only takes a quick look at the media to see that ideas of participation, identity, democracy, formal and informal networks are really being challenged. Where traditionally we might have looked to institutions of long standing or to well-established experts to solve problems for us, increasingly now we're sourcing information online, we're curating it, we're finding solutions, we're doing things digitally.
The growth in technologies that allow people from around the globe to communicate and collaborate together have created a situation whereby previously disparate cultures have come together and new cultures have emerged. We’ve got a pretty well established set of principles, rules, understandings for what it means to be a really positive member of a community. What we don't have because it's been happening relatively quickly and recently, is the same set of understandings, rights, and responsibilities for living in the digital now. And so one of the things that we need to really do is work with our students to develop those expectations, those understandings.
Take for example EdChat NZ, which is something that runs once a week on Thursdays. People from all around the country come together and using the Twitter hashtag #EdChatNZ they discuss a particular topic. You ask questions, you provide opinions, you link to articles and research, you make opportunities for other people to be involved and to come in, and, really, the teachers that are involved in it model the kind of digital citizenship that we're looking for from our students when they are living in the digital now.
Another challenge that living in the digital now presents us with is centred on ownership and copyright. Traditionally, one person, or a couple of people, have created a piece of work. Now collaborative documents or file sharing tools mean that not only can more than one person work on a resource, but literally hundreds or thousands of people can work on it. So traditional notions of ownership begin to be challenged. We’ve seen the emergence of things like Creative Commons licenses emerge as a way for people to navigate around the tricky area of ownership, and as a tool to encourage others to edit, add to and build upon their work.
These new worlds are tricky for educators to navigate because, while we want to make use of these tools and opportunities, we want to do it in a way that ensures our students are safe, affirmed, and guided through the development of skills required to be good members of their communities. Some schools are involving the students in the process. So, instead of just having a digital citizenship lesson once a year, they are actually helping the students to identify what their own needs are in the digital world, and then using inquiry learning to help students to build resources, help videos, tutorials, and posters that other students can use to navigate through the digital world.
So you can see that a lot of parts of our culture, democracy, identity, leadership, the way that we work with others, are being challenged by living in the digital now. The only thing that's really clear is that in order to successfully navigate through these challenges, we're going to have to walk alongside our students and communities and be learners alongside them.
- How well do our schools and classrooms (both physically and in terms of the programmes and behaviours) model and reflect the ‘digital now’ that is the experience of students and staff outside of school?
- Are you regularly reviewing what learners have access to and are using at home and in the community?
- How is this then reflected in your curriculum and pedagogy?
- What is the range of literacies we need to be considering? Cultural literacies? Maori literacy digitally? Pasifika literacies digitally? Digital and media literacy as well as technological literacies?
Examples and links:
- TEDtalk: Abha Dawesar: Life in the “digital now”
- Ako Aotearoa: Digital Information Literacy: what is it and how do you get it?
- Mix & Mash
- Netsafe: owls
For more about the Ten Trends: