‘Tis the night before the #edchatnz conference and I am mulling over the session I am hoping to facilitate…
It’s been just over a month since I joined NetSafe as their new Director of Education, and I have thoroughly enjoyed getting my head around a ‘same but different’ view window on education. The ‘same’ being broad, effective understandings around learning, curriculum, digital technologies, online spaces and professional development. The field feels very familiar. The ‘different’ includes spotlights on cybersafety research, wellbeing and how digital citizenship aligns with future-focused ideas related to learning, but also law, crime and community norms.
Of great interest is the strong focus on how interventions in the online environment are unlikely to be effective without the direct and regular involvement of young people and their whānau/families.
Seems kinda obvious, of course. And yet.
While there are some great pockets of practice around, there is still a strong bias in places towards assumptions and fears about being online.
We still see the following – even though there is strong evidence against their efficacy:
- the ‘fear based message’ as a starting point for designing a safe, school environment, stoked by media clickbait. This Sunday’s article in the Herald on Sunday is a great example (Hooked on porn: Prepare for a tsunami of damaged people).
- depiction and positioning of young people as ‘at fault’ — irresponsible, not to be trusted, poor decision-makers …
- depiction of parents as gatekeepers and surveillance police, and at fault if they cannot make their children conform…
- hope and trust in technology and/or the prohibition of it as a solution – the yearning for a quick-fix silver bullet
- digital citizenship/cybersafety positioned ‘off to the side’ of the main curriculum programme
Internationally, there is a trend towards designing balanced, community-focused, learner-centred curriculum for wellbeing (OECD, ERO et al.) — and approaches to digital citizenship, and maintaining safe environments to support that learning, are surely part of this.
I read the recent post on gaming from NZCER (McDowall, 2016) this week and was struck by comments from young interviewees:
Some students felt as though these adults not only had negative views of gaming but had negative views of them personally because they were into gaming. When we asked a group of Year 10 students, for instance, what their parents thought about their gaming, their responses included: “That we’re lazy”; “That we’re just wasting our time”; “That we’re wasting our money”; and “That they [digital games] don’t contribute to our learning.
…and in this TEDx talk from 2014, Sonia Livingstone makes the point that what we believe young people are doing online, what we assume this means, our understanding of the relationship between ‘risk’ and ‘harm’ all influence how we design responses in schools:
Never has it been more important to check our own views as adults/teachers/parents, to understand that young people are moving through a time of new digital phenomena — and begin by finding out as much as we can about their lived experiences online. Without judgement. Check out my post from the past on moving from student voice to dialogue.
This will offer us a solid place to start curriculum planning, reviewing our strategic planning processes, or starting that sometimes difficult, courageous conversation with our children.
Bring on the kōrero tomorrow.
- Livingstone, S. (2014). How children engage with the internet. TEDx Exeter.
- McDowall (2016, August): Under the blood is learning: What students wish parents and teachers understood about gaming
- Georgie Pauwels: ‘joy of taking photographs’ published under CC BY-2.0
‘Digital citizenship? Start talking with the kids’ by Karen Spencer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.