I have just had my eyes opened to something that I had not considered: What is the culture of the Internet?
One of our important roles as educators is to help our students become successful citizens of the many different worlds that they will inhabit — for example, the world of academia, the world of work, the world of their social lives, and the world of the Internet.
Up until now I thought of the world of the Internet as being one world, one place to prepare our students for, however, at the Nethui I heard a talk by Dee O'Carroll with the title Māori and the social media — pathways forward, based on her PhD research. Dee presented many challenging points, and I was really taken with her discussion around appropriately practicing tikanga Māori in online spaces.
The Internet is made up of a network of communities. As the world gets smaller more and more families are moving away from, what I like to call, ‘the home of their hearts’, to live in other places for many different reasons. As these families disperse they can lose contact with their history, and in the case of people moving overseas, their language. Communities such as virtual maraes provide a space for those who have moved away to keep connection with the home of their hearts, and with the protocols around being a part of that community.
As teachers, we have the privilege to help students to learn how to be citizens of this complicated online world where you can be with your friends on Facebook, with your classmates in a shared blog, and with your whānau in a virtual marae. This Internet thing is more complicated than I had first thought, and more exciting in the possibilities that it presents for us as educators.
Our challenge — to help our students be confident, connected, lifelong learners in the complexity of both the physical and the virtual worlds.
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