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How to spark Digital Leaders in Today’s Students?

Firstly, it is important to clarify what are we wondering about. What is digital citizenship?
Citizenship can be defined the quality of an individual’ s response to membership in a community, which turns this concept far more complex and denser than a simple legal matter, unravelling itself of self-knowledge, interaction and close knowledge and sense of belonging to a place, its community and cultural heritage.

Therefore, digital citizenship and citizenship are very close concepts. In this case, we can shape digital citizenship as the quality of a response to membership in a digital community is a solid starting point.
By exploring this point view, we can go deeper and present digital citizenship, using the words of Terry Heick, “as the quality of habits, actions and consumption patterns that impact the ecology of digital content and communities.”

Furthermore, the fact is digital citizenship symbolizes the huge transformation technology has brought to our daily lives (habits, behaviours, interactions).
In the time we are living in, we are assisting to the evolving of digital citizenship to digital leadership.
Let’s recover George Couros’ words! In the scope of digital citizenship, it aims for“using the internet and social media in a responsible and ethical way.” If we wonder about digital leadership, it symbolizes the use of internet and social media to improve lives, well-being and circumstances of others.
This shifting clearly reveals that digital technology and social media become deeply integrated in our daily routines and habits as we move towards belonging to a physical and digital company of our peers.

So, how does a digital citizen become a digital leader?
Digital citizenship defines how an individual should behave in order to be ethical, compassionate and proactive in all online engagements and environments.
Moving from digital citizenship to digital leadership is achieved by having a higher awareness of the surrounding world and its communities and cultures and how we are all connected.
Within the learning experience we can encourage students to move from digital citizen to a digital leader through respect for their self and for others; responsibility for their self and for others; and, finally, respect for property.

1) Respect for their self:

First, show respect for yourself! Think seriously about the content and data you post online and how does this content reflects on you, our family and community. Also, take a good look about the websites you visit.
Here are some tasks teachers can promote with their students to raise awareness on this matter:

  • Share and debate different websites with the students, in order to explore what students know about these contents, if they would visit them, and why they would or why not;
  • Propose the creation of a Facebook page for the class, so students can show their understanding on conscientious posting and creating ethical online profiles.

2) Responsibility for self:

How can we balance technology use with our real life? What are the advantages and risks of the technology we use? After we define our online typical behaviour, we can consider how to protect ourselves and our own data we share online. Last, it assists us in speaking out against be harasses and bullied online.
A few tasks teachers can promote with their students to raise awareness on this matter:

  • Challenge your students into creating a super-password (the most uncrackable one!).
  • Encourage your students to debate and reflect upon the dangers of using technology too much and how they would go about showing others to balance its use in their daily routines.

3) Respect for others:

Our digital communication can be as empowering as devastating. It is important to be aware of how digital interactions can have a positive or a negative impact.
Two tasks educators can promote with their classes in order to make them more aware about this matter:

  • Ask students to select a few videos and photos they like on a social media of preference and to leave a positive comment on the authors profile.
  • Guide the class in the building of a school campaign against online bullying.

4) Responsibility for others:

Do you know anyone who has been stalked, harassed or bullied online? It is important to understand how to fight against such behaviours ethically and how to help others.
A few tasks that can assist teachers into promoting awareness regarding this matter:

  • Ask students to work in groups in order to think, design and develop some ways to assist their families and communities to use technology positively.
  • Present a fictional scenario to the class where a student is bullied through the sharing of photos and ask them to state how they would react and why.

5) Respect for property:

Piracy is theft. Period! No matter what! A digital leader’s responsibility relies on setting an example for others by practicing and encouraging awareness on copyright guidelines and intellectual property.
A couple of tasks teachers can promote with their classes in order to foster awareness about this matter:

  • Ask learners to set up a material to present and exemplify guidelines on how to cite sources and how to ask permission for using another’s resources.
  • In a role-play task, ask students to show ways how to adequate purchase software and multimedia content.

With these words, we only lift the veil over this matter, the fact is debating and reflecting upon the shifting from digital citizenship to digital leadership will continue. It is as clear as the rapidly outstanding transformation of today’s brought by technology!


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