Digital Citizenship and Distance Education

Digital Citizenship and Distance Education

Lesley S. J. Farmer (California State University – Long Beach, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-3688-0.ch001
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This chapter describes the role of digital citizenship as it relates to school librarianship in online learning environments. It discusses the need for digital citizenship, its curriculum and standards, its place in school librarianship program preparation, distance education issues, learning resources, and implementation for the school community. Emerging issues are also noted.
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The Information Society

Digital citizenship instruction needs to be contextualized in terms of societal realities, the role of school librarians, and instruction. However, the information society impacts existing institutions and cultures. The speed and globalization of information leads to constant change, which can be hard to digest and manage. The majority of jobs now involve technology and other related new skills, so that the idea of a ‘terminal’ degree or a static skill set is outmoded. Rather, adults often need to ‘reinvent’ themselves throughout their working lives. Particularly for adults who are digital immigrants (Prensky, 2001), this new world of electronic information can be puzzling and overwhelming. Do they have enough background information to understand and use this form of information? Today’s learners, then, need to be literate in their access to, evaluation of, and use of information. They should be lifelong learners who pursue their interests. Also, it would be desirable if they were also socially responsible people who upheld democratic values, were ethical, and co-operated with one another. These skills, knowledge, and dispositions foster digital citizenship.

Technology Use

In 2010, 400 million people had Facebook accounts, 126 million blogs existed, 50 million tweets were created daily, and 91% of mobile web users accessed social networking sites. In addition, 44% of online videos viewed were done at the workplace (Kennedy, 2010).

What are people doing online? They are learning social rules, creating profiles, exploring identity, writing blogs, designing software, sharing or producing music, discussing interests, engaging in social and political activism, keeping friends, assessing risks. What else are they doing? Seeking validation, competing for popularity, venting, showing off, embarrassing themselves, damaging reputations, being vengeful, threatening, or harassing. They also may be perpetrators or victims of cons and abuse.

In short, we impact our digital reputation every time we go online, especially when doing social networking. Since the workplace typically monitors online activity, all of us need to be aware of our cyber-behavior. While protective actions such as filters and blocking can be used, we need education more than protection to cultivate digital awareness and the ability to maintain an online reputation.

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