As teachers of the Saskatchewan curriculum, we all are tasked with helping students to become lifelong learners equipped with the tools which will allow them to develop a positive sense of self and become engaged citizens who understand social responsibility.  These statements create the underpinning for all SK curriculums, and stand in addition to the outcomes and indicators of a course.  Digital citizenship has recently been added as a component of these foundational curriculum goals, as educators and government realize the importance of extending these foundational goals into the digital world (sources).  

This week’s debate had the two teams arguing whether teachers are responsible for helping students develop their digital footprint.  I started this blog with the underpinnings of our curriculum because of the importance I see, and was supported in the debate itself, of determining what teachers can, and should, teach in their classrooms.  I also feel compelled, as the debaters for the disagree side did, to make clear there is a difference between teaching digital citizenship and developing a digital footprint.  The agree side argues these two concepts go hand in hand.  However, this is not about whether they can coexist in a lesson where you might use one to enforce the importance of the other, but instead about whether a teacher is responsible for teaching one or the other.  The curriculum would say a teacher is only responsible for digital citizenship, and I would agree.

If we reflect on the debate, and consider the arguments the agree side argued, specifically that teachers are best positioned to help students with their digital footprint.  The argument lost its validity for me when evidence showed that a student’s digital activity is often outside the hours of class and that students often have a digital footprint prior to the start of their schooling. This is not to say that what we do in school is not influential outside of school, but rather to highlight that the potential for the most influence on a student’s digital footprint comes at home.  When we accept this argument, we also acknowledge the role private industry must accept in educating its users, and the crucial position government is in to create laws that can protect citizen rights as it relates to this topic.

My final thoughts support the disagree side as well, pushing the responsibility of a student digital footprint onto teachers is a re-active approach.  By only focusing on trying to react to the already existing structures of the digital world we are simply nurturing the already larger issue of digital capitalism. As an educator, a parent of three, and a user of the internet the reality that the digital world is keeping/collecting information about all users creates concerns that go far beyond teaching students how to develop their digital footprint, and instead have me demanding governmental legislations to minimize the power the digital world has in influencing my life.


3 Replies to “Seriously”

  1. Great post. I like the differentiation between digital citizenship and a digital footprint. We looked at both last semester in ECI832 with Alec and it was a really eye-opening course. After watching the Social Dilemma on Netflix, I had no idea how much of content mining and data harvesting really exists online which ties in with your comment about digital capitalism. Thanks for a great post and a good (albeit quick) semester!

    1. Thanks for the quick, built in, pieces of info. I’ll have to think about the Alec course and the Netflix show. I’m pretty interested in these topics lately.

  2. Excellent post Stephen! I agree, they are not the same thing and that it is up to teachers to teach digital citizenship not help students develop a digital footprint. It’s seems that digital footprints are being created for many children before they are even 2 years old. Therefore it is the parents responsibility to aid in the development of that and we are there to support at school with general digital citizenship education.

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