I'm currently sitting outside (poolside to be exact) working on some digital citizenship curriculum for the beginning of the school year. It's one of those evenings where the sky is just a million shades of beautiful, and you can almost see the curve of the Earth's atmosphere.
Which got me to thinking. This world is a big ol' amazing place filled with learners of all ages, races, sizes, and shapes. When we give our students the freedom that digital access should bring, we are not just shaping them as digital citizens, but global ones as well.
When I was in high school (circa 1997-2001), we were on the cutting edge of "distance learning." I remember sitting in front of this ginormous, boxy television monitor sitting on the edge of my seat as we prepared to connect with another high school. This was groundbreaking, Back to the Future-type of technology for us. It was exciting and something that helped ignite my passion for what I do today.
These days, distance learning is at the touch of a button on any phone, tablet, laptop, etc. It's no longer considered groundbreaking technology. It just...is.
Today's students have heard the digital citizen spiel. While I feel it is certainly an important conversation, I think we need to go broader. Deeper. Students need to feel and experience the sense that they are just one in billions of other people like themselves who are now connected in ways previously unimaginable.
We need to teach them that they are responsible. Responsible for embracing the opportunities they have to reach out and make a difference in their world. They need to know they are connected. They need opportunities to go beyond their small inner circle of peers. They need to connect with all generations and races of people in meaningful conversation. WE need to teach them to be considerate. This is where those digital citizenship traits come into play, but even more than that...teach them to be aware of cultural and generational differences.
Finally, we need to show them that they are capable. As a global citizen, they are capable of doing anything they put their mind to. The resources are unlimited so long as we refrain from setting limits. The world is certainly theirs to explore.
Let's teach them how.