[Video] Why Social Media is a Critical Element for Teaching Digital Citizenship
Educators recognize the importance of teaching digital citizenship, particularly as news drops almost daily about fake news, data theft, cyberbullying, and more. So how does one start teaching these principles?
Apart from the crowd-sourced library of digital citizenship course curriculum we've made available (you can learn more about that here), one set of tools seem to be a critical player in this learning process. I'm referring to social media.
Whether we like it or not, social media has completely changed the way we communicate and view our world. It has amplified the voices of everyone around the world who has access to the internet, for better or for worse, and become a sort of parallel reality that continues to grow in importance to those who use it.
This is why Dr. Ai Addyson-Zhang, Associate Professor of Communication Studies. considers it to be so important for modern education and digital citizenship. In the video below, she explains why.
Why Social Media is a Critical Element for Teaching Digital Citizenship
Full Video Transcript
Part of this thing of learning how to kind of get yourself out in the social space ... There's a lot of talk about digital citizenship as well and I think that there's also sometimes a perception that kids just will know how to be safe online, to be thoughtful of what they're doing, to be critical thinkers. I think we've seen a lot of evidence lately that that's not necessarily the case; that we need to be proactive about helping students navigate that. Do you think incorporating social media into the classroom is a critical element of digital citizenship?
Oh yes. Definitely. With so much going on, we're talking about ... Last year, fake news was such a big deal. I think it is very important. The students actually ... I think social media ... I see technology as a way to bridge the gap between what is happening in the classroom and what is happening outside the classroom. When you incorporate digital storytelling or digital citizenship into classes, students are actually making sense, making better sense of what they are learning in the classroom because they see that their learning is relevant. They are actually making the world or our society and humanity a better place. I can share some quick stories with you.
For example, on my show, last year I interviewed an amazing educator from the United Kingdom. He coached his students to take over the official police department's Snapchat account in a specific county in London. The students launched a Snapchat campaign to teach and educate other students and the younger generation to stop sexting, which is using a text message to send pornography and naked pictures. That's the campaign. They used social media and Snapchat, specifically, to raise awareness for that, for sexting. It was a huge success.
I see that as the students practicing digital citizenship. They are educating the public within a few hours. They released their Snapchat video on Facebook and the video got hundreds of views and comments and shares and was amazing. The class also got interviewed by the local media and students actually thought, "Oh, wow! I'm doing something in the class, but I'm actually also helping make my community a better place." That is a great example of using digital storytelling and incorporating social media to practice digital citizenship.
I have another friend who's really into virtual reality and he has his own agency doing this. Actually, I'm going to interview this person on my Facebook show very soon. What he does is to bring VR into the classroom, to use VR to communicate sympathy, empathy, to help eradicate human trafficking. That is amazing. Using a digital tool to help students understand the issues of human trafficking and to reduce this problem. To me, this is another way to practice digital citizenship. Helping students understand what they learn in the classroom has real life consequences and can create real life impact. Definitely. Yes.
I remember hearing Allen November years ago. I think he talked to the CEO of HBC Bank and he asked, "What's the most important skill that kids need coming out of college today to work in the industry?" The response he got was, "Empathy." It wasn't what he was expecting at all. That so stuck with me. We recently interviewed a teacher from Maine Endwell high school in New York. She teaches a digital citizenship class. They started this whole campaign of hashtag positively social to try to get positive things out into the world and to make a positive force be something that was ... I think when they first started trending, they were seeing all the places in the world this was showing up and they were just amazed at how quickly that caught on.
Like you said, it was such an amazing lesson for them in being active and being positive through social media. That was part of their digital citizenship class.
Exactly. Just to add on that briefly, it is very interesting. I think for students if they hear the same thing only from the teacher, it doesn't register with them that much, but if they hear the same message from other students, from other professionals outside the class, somehow, it just clicks so much more.
*Learn more about Dr. Ai Addyson-Zhang and her show "Classroom Without Walls" here.