Debate #4 once again saw a seesaw battle over whether educators and schools should have a responsibility to help their students develop a digital footprint. When I first saw it, I thought slam dunk for the agree side. Laura and JR were up first, stating some strong arguments to why it should be our responsibility.
Digital Posting- A Good or Bad Decision
Keegan Korf’s presentation is a great reminder of the impacts a student’s digital footprint can have down the road of life. Students are not always concerned about what information they are putting out there for everyone to see. Tech and social media platforms provide students with a space to explore being independent. Not always is that independence done wholesomely. I remember convocation from university and applying for jobs. The amount of importance stressed to graduates about professionalism online and fear of what people could see was real. Posting photos and comments at the time was never a worry at the time, but 5 years later deleting posts, photos and so on, was all too common. Getting messages from friends who were changing their names, or asking for any pictures of them to be taken down was a real thing. Wholesome images that reflected a professional was the goal, and creating a safe space for commentary and reflection was also.
As educators we always want to the best for our students. We lay awake at night with issues from the previous day/week/month keeping us awake, wondering how situations could of played out differently. How we could of done or taught something prior to “save” an incident from happening. The same comes with our students and technology. We want to create a space that students recognize the impact posts, pictures, comments, have on others and the possibility of repercussions that could follow. A space that students can take part digitally and contribute positively in the path of digital citizenship. It all sounds like something that a teacher can easily do and then BAM here comes the flipside of the argument!
Is Your Plate Full Enough?
Rahima and Jessica were not to be outdone. So where does developing a digital footprint come from? In his Ted Talk, Paul Davis outlines the ways in which our digital footprint can follow us. Every image, comment, tag and so forth, is documented and ultimately stored. These digital trails stay with the user and the devices in which they were created. But whose responsibility is it to teach students about it? Teachers are the quick answer but not every class in school is even geared towards this topic. In certain classes sure, we do teach students digital citizenship but to what degree are we needing to be held responsible for teaching students about every nuance of technology. Davis argues two strong points when dealing with a digital footprint. The first, RESPONSIBILITY. I couldn’t agree more with this. We can pass a student a device, or let’s say even a tool in a woodshop, it doesn’t matter how much we pre-teach how to properly use it, the actions and choices made with that device are the students. They have to be responsible for them and the aftermath from using them. When using technology, it’s a deliberate action to type out a message and then hit post. The second, ACCOUNTABILITY. Who has put the technology in question in the hands of these students. In the case of a phone, where I would think the majority of misuse happens, it falls on the parents to be accountable for those actions as they would be the providers of the technology.
We have students in our care for 7 of 24 hours, maybe more or maybe less but less than 1/3 of most days from Monday to Friday. As Jessica and Rahima debated, teachers are already tasked with teaching curriculum, relationship building, how to be a member of a community and the list could go on and on. So in a school setting are we also the ones responsible to help develop this digital footprint? Possibly. Should we have to do it on our own? Probably not. What we might see as responsible ways to use technologies, might not be the same message students are receiving outside of school. We can definitely show them benefits of a positive footprint, but at what point do we as educators need to let students figure out somethings on their own?