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Bridging School and Society Contradictions Through Digital Citizenship

By M. Carolina Orgnero
 | Aug 05, 2016

ThinkstockPhotos-495750654_x300When you look across almost two decades of the 21st century, you can see how much the curriculum has been modified to include digital literacy and digital skills, and it becomes clear that students need to be responsible digital citizens. This concept can be introduced in tandem in the classroom, but students will likely need plenty of practice in and out of school to really master them.

One strategy to increase students’ awareness of how to use social media appropriately is to prepare case studies generated from the news that illustrate common misuses of social media by celebrities or even regular folks. By examining other people’s behavior in relation to their own, students can learn to think more critically about what it means to be a responsible digital citizen and how to identify the contradictions involved. Cases like these can prove quite valuable because young people tend to look for models in society and then emulate what they do.

There are examples all over the world that can be used as teachable moments for students.

During sporting events such as the Summer Olympics, multinational companies often advertise their products with inspirational messages, for example Proctor & Gamble’s video showing the sacrifices athletes made to become an Olympian and the unconditional support they received from their families.

On the flipside of that coin during the Summer Games in 2012, the Switzerland soccer team lost against North Korea. One of the Swiss players was furious and decided to vent on Twitter. He insulted the players of the other team with racist comments. The next day, he was expelled from the Olympic team.

After learning about these real events, ask students to draw connections between what the video showed and the efforts each athlete took to be part of an Olympic team. Yet, even after all of this work, a young athlete is no longer able to compete professionally because of his reckless actions and misuse of Twitter.

A second example took place during an official visit to China in 2015. The former president of Argentina made a sarcastic remark via Twitter mocking the Chinese accent. The diplomatic community was appalled by this president’s behavior. Yet this behavior was applauded among her mass of followers who would never dare to question her actions because the great majority did not exercise critical thinking to analyze the connection between what she did and the negative international diplomatic implications. The message for students here is that respect should be expressed, even in cyberspace.

Offer students newspapers, articles, or videos about events like these and encourage them to infer what repercussions a leader’s digital actions may have had on internal and external affairs.

Digital citizenship is a concept requiring respect for others and oneself, reflection, and lots of practice. Our students need opportunities to discuss and reflect on the inconsistencies between the digital citizenship skills they learn about at school and what they see others do with social media outside of school. Case studies can offer a wide range of different examples to make these discussions memorable and meaningful.

M. Carolina Orgnero is an assistant professor at Universidad de Río Cuarto where she teaches Education and Technology courses in the English language program (TESOL) to undergraduate and graduate students. She also teaches EFL Pedagogy to preservice teachers at ISFD Juan Zorrilla de San Martín in Córdoba, Argentina.

This article is part of a series from the Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG). 


Leave a comment
  1. Andrea | Oct 13, 2016
    Very interesting article!! Excellent ideas to work with our students today!
  2. Sara | Aug 23, 2016
    Great article! 

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