Down Go the Debates – Rounds 7 & 8!

Down Go the Debates – Rounds 7 & 8!

Educators and schools have a responsibility to help their students develop a digital footprint.

Who’s Responsible?

Again, another loaded debate topic! Initially I began to think that well maybe it is our responsibility to help students develop their digital footprint….then I thought to myself would I place that responsibility on my son’s teacher? ….I would not. That made me rethink my initial thought to it is our jobs as educators to EDUCATE students on digital footprints and developing their own.  My viewpoint on this topic was quickly confirmed within the first couple minutes of the disagree opening statement when they said “students arrive at school with a digital footprint.”  To me this is a pretty powerful sentiment to who should bear the “responsibility” of helping students develop their digital footprints…. parents.

Where do Parents Fit In?

To me, I feel that the majority of the responsibility of creating students’ digital footprint should fall with the parents.  I am not saying that educators do not play a role in their development, however, I think we need to see teachers as another resource for students to utilize.  Parents are the ones who decide who, what, when and where their child begins to create a digital trail online, and as a result, they must be responsible to ensure their child is indeed ready to be online.  Like teachers, many parents are likely not very comfortable or lacking training and knowledge to effectively teach their kids so they may just choose not to and pass the buck to us educators.  

Helpling their children create a positive digital footprint does not just include teaching them how to behave online or modeling what it looks like to be a good digital citizen, it also has to encompass keeping tabs on what their little ones are up to while online.  In today’s day and age, there are a lot of apps that parents can utilize to help supervise their child from afar, giving them the trust to be online as long as they are behaving properly.  I often find myself wondering who would be held responsible if the behavior online was one that needed to include the authorities in any manner? I would have to think it would be the parent or whoever owns the phone that the youth may be using to engage in the sketchy online behavior. 

Where do Educators Fit in?

This is a valid question… where do educators fit in? How far or how much do they talk to kids about digital footprints? How comfortable do they feel teaching youth on this subject?  Leona outlines a good starting point to ensure that educators feel more comfortable with this subject matter…. Training or PD!  Most teachers are aware of media literacy, digital literacy, or digital citizenship, but do not feel properly trained to effectively teach their students. Leona outlines that if teachers are indeed going to be given yet another responsibility, then they should at least be trained accordingly and know what and how to model proper online engagement.   She also shared a study that outlines a few more ideas surrounding focuses when and/or if we decide to utilize in our digital citizenship lessons:

  • Going online is a normal activity done by many youth, however parental involvement and supervision with online activity is varied
  • Online communication is often exchanged on social media apps between people they already now in their face to face relations
  • Some student are aware of online identity, many have no clue
  • Students are concerned with their cyber safety and it shapes their digital identities
  • More management strategies need to be implemented that reflect the age of the student

Personally, I don’t want to be the one creating digital footprints for my 30ish students.  They deserve the right to be educated on how to create a strong, positive and safe identity on their own.  They need to experience the ups and downs, challenges and triumphs of being a positive contributing member of their digital community.  I feel that if we as educators are held RESPONSIBLE to create these footprints for the kids, we are creating 30 robotic identities and essentially taking away an opportunity to show their unique individuality.

Online education is detrimental to the social and academic development of children.

This debate topic is one that I still don’t know which side of the fence I fall on.  I seem to think of online learning as what we were forced to head into during the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.  I think that before I can answer this or find a side of the fence to reside on, I need to separate supplemental/emergency learning vs true online learning.  So to get a better idea of what online learning is I did what any person in the 21st century would do, I asked Google for a definition… here is was I was given.  

Online learning is education that takes place over the Internet. It is often referred to as “e- learning” among other terms.

The online learning that we saw at the beginning of the pandemic is a type of learning that can be detrimental to the students overall well-being and development.  It was optional and there was no pressure to be there, just trying to survive a situation where many of us have never been before.  Teachers were not required to hold video meetings with their class or instruct online.  Fast forward, we are back in the classroom and COVID is getting out of hand again, and we are back online.  This time with some more guidelines.  Teachers were required to have daily meetings, office hours and do some online instruction, which started to make it feel more like a classroom, albeit at a distance.

I recall heading back to the classroom after the first long bout of online/supplemental learning and thinking to myself what happened to some of the skills these kids used to have, specifically more of their social skills.  They seemed to have forgotten how to have a conversation and how to behave in a social setting.  They also seemed to have lost significantly more skills over the time away than we would normally see over a normal summer regression; we are still trying to close some of these social and academic gaps these students have from COVID learning.  

7 Important Social Skills for Kids and How to Teach Them

To me, online learning is very age dependent.  I found it difficult to engage many of my grade 5 students during the online learning of last year.  They were not able to work a computer properly on their own nor were they mature enough to let the novelty of something new ware off quickly and get back down to business.  Online learning is geared more towards the highschool and university students were they can reap the rewards of the flexibility that online learning can provide.

Online learning doesn’t have to be a complete failure.  I think that if it is implemented and set up properly, many students can and will continue to develop socially and academically.  There needs to be guidelines and expectations that are followed to a T, if that is not present, then it may turn into a waste of time.

4 thoughts on “Down Go the Debates – Rounds 7 & 8!

  1. I think one of the hardest things for me to accept is that children have to get a headstart on managing their “brand” at such a young age. It may be nostalgia speaking, but I miss the times when children could make mistakes, learn from them, and move on. It seems that due to their digital footprint they can no longer forget the foolish things they’ve done. I also wonder what it says about us as a society when we don’t admit someone to college or get rid of their job application because of something they said when they were 14 years old. I feel that everyone is grappling with the implications of their online activity and we’re applying old standards to new realities.

  2. Great post Brett. I like the infographic around “being your best self” – I do find myself in the same camp as Matthew however, around kids having to manage their brands and reputations at such a young age. I mean perhaps I had a reputation as an “imperfect” kid, but I never had to worry about my silly childhood antics following me and defining who I was as an adult. I should also clarify that I think “being a kid”, and being a bully are two very different things. That said, many 10-year-old bullies grow up into good adults as well.
    All said, excellent points all around.

  3. I think your social skills infographic is something that we need to remember, and teach kiddos and transfer that to the digital world. I think that we need to teach kiddos how to be good digital citizens and how to conduct themselves online, but when it comes to actively be a part of their social media “brands” and helping them make positive ones, that’s where I am unsure.

  4. Thanks for your post. I agree that the digital footprint does and should start at home, just like any aspect of raising well-rounded human-beings. I also see them important of our role as educators to teach and guide students along this learning journey. We’re just a part of their digital footprint, but we have the opportunity to teach them skills, etiquette and safety that they might not be learning at home or with friends.

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