Global Digital Citizens – what is the teacher’s role?

We are often made aware of the fact that technology offers both an enormous potential for learning, but also a corresponding capacity for distraction, bad judgment and inappropriate behaviour.

Because many parents lack the relevant knowledge and experience in dealing with technology, guidance is often not available in the home environment, so it is left to teachers to provide the advice, monitoring and modeling.

In a recent article on the Committed Sardine blog (www.fluency21.com/blogpost.cfm?blogID=2498&utm_source), Andrew Churches outlined how teachers have a role to play in the development of the “Global Digital Citizens” that we find in our classrooms today. They are described as being “respective and protective of themselves and other people as well as intellectual property … proactive and intolerant of abuse, standing up for the rights of freedom of expression and communication while condemning excesses and bullying”.  These ideal versions of educated learners should “understand and celebrate the cultural differences and subtleties that flavour the diverse world they live in” and have “moral and ethical values that underpin their immersion, shape their interactions, and guide their decisions”.  But are these the students you recognise in your own classrooms? And if not, how can you help develop these essential qualities for life in the real and virtual worlds that they co-inhabit?

Churches maintains that teachers have the following roles to play:

1) Mentor: your actions shape the moral and ethical framework of your students. You need to acknowledge information sources, respect copyright  and act appropriately in online communications to show them what behaviour is acceptable.

2) Monitor: teachers need to supervise student action and stress accountability for behaviour, with consequences for inappropriateness, but in a fair and even-handed way.  This includes seeking understanding and justice “rather than prescriptive consequences laid out in a structured pattern of offenses and punishments”.

3) Mediator: Conflict is inevitable in relationships and teachers need to provide strategies, resolve conflict and disputes and model tolerance, gradually passing on this role to the students themselves so that they can moderate their own environment.

At the end of the day, teachers need to model, mentor and mediate the virtues of respect, tolerance, understanding, accountability, responsibility, fairness, justice, action and consequence in order to develop the global digital citizens that will act responsibly in our society. Churches reminds us that the classroom is no longer limited to the four walls and blackboard, and stretches way beyond the physical school boundaries, and you are global teachers and much more than mere masters of your subject.  Quite a challenge, but so vital for students in the world today!

Categories: Web Watch

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