Digital Citizenship: The Future of Learning

Digital Citizenship: The Future of Learning

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3534-9.ch009

Abstract

In metamodern culture, digital citizens are required to make multitudinous decisions about consuming and producing information around the clock. Technology surrounds us at home, at work, in our communities, in our schools and libraries with increased expectations of instant global communication. In networked society, our responsibilities for digital citizenship have become essential. Metaliteracy is key to digital citizenship and critical to education as learners acquire, produce, and share knowledge in collaborative online communities and social media platforms. As both physical citizens of local communities and virtual citizens of global communities, the oscillation between physical and virtual space epitomizes metamodernism, laying a foundation for the future. This chapter concludes with a look at future trends for the metamodern metaliterate learner.
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Introducing Digital Citizenship

“Citizenship is an attitude, a state of mind, an emotional conviction that the whole is greater than the part and that the part should be humbly proud to sacrifice itself that the whole may live”. ---Robert A. Heinlein

Human life has been revolutionized by digital culture with technological devices permeating every aspect of our surroundings. Young people entering college now have never known a world without the Internet, a world in which everyone is always connected with access to all the knowledge of history conveniently located in one’s pocket. This networked society comes with a personal responsibility to become digital citizens who are aware of the issues that technology innovations have raised, such as privacy and security, digital addiction, misinformation and digital duress due to information overload (Anderson & Rainie, 2018).

Pew Research Center canvassed technology experts, scholars and health specialists to share predictions about how digital life will impact people’s general well being over the next decade. The 1,150 responding experts were split on whether most of us will be helped or harmed by technology. “Some 47% of these respondents predict that individuals’ well-being will be more helped than harmed by digital life in the next decade, while 32% say people’s well-being will be more harmed than helped” (Anderson & Rainie, 2018, p. 2). The remaining 21% believed there will be little difference to people’s current well-being.

Of course, predicting the future is impossible; however, we can all agree that our human existence has drastically been changed by the Internet and there is no going back. Examples of both the helpful and harmful impact of technology in our lives corresponds to the oscillation of polarities in metamodernism. We swing across the technological pendulum from exciting benefits to harmful ramifications. The changes we face due to technological innovation are not all “good” or “bad” but provide new choices which are sometimes challenging. These choices include personal decisions and responsibilities that require understanding digital citizenship. A look at how our culture has been changed by technology lays a foundation for addressing the issues and concerns ahead for learning in the future. Digital citizenship is an umbrella of elements, skills, and manners that each person must understand in metamodern culture and this chapter will examine them in theory and practice. Learning in the future will necessitate digital citizenship for the metamodern learner, especially through metaliteracy.

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Background Of Digital Citizenship

Being a good citizen, prior to the Internet age, meant getting along with others, showing respect for people and property, abiding by rules and laws and becoming a contributing member of a community in our physical world. Literacy has always been fundamental to citizenship as individuals learn from history, from literature and stories, and from discourse that builds empathy and understanding. Researcher and reading specialist Maryanne Wolf believes in the power of literature, particularly fiction, to build empathy through both knowledge and feeling. “In this sense, writes Wolf (2018, p. 52), “when we read fiction, the brain actively simulates the consciousness of another person, including those whom we would never otherwise even imagine knowing”. For many adults, today’s busy lifestyles and the profusion of movies available through streaming services, cable television and YouTube, leave little time for reading novels. Wolfe (2015, p. 53) ascertains, “This emerging work on empathy in the reading brain illustrates physiologically, cognitively, politically, and culturally how important it is that feeling and thought be connected in the reading circuit in every person”.

Today, our communities are global and digital. Being a good digital citizen is just as important to society but differs in some ways from physical world citizenship because a variety of digital skills are necessary but not obvious. The consequences of digital behavior are often unseen, and one may feel anonymous in virtual environments.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Biohacking: The application of technology (such as microchips) into life systems, particularly into the human body (sometimes used to describe do-it-yourself dietary changes).

RFID: Radio frequency identification which uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify people or objects carrying encoded microchips.

Quantum Computing: The use of qubits (short for quantum bits or sub-atomic particles) in computers instead of the traditional bits and bytes (ones and zeros) for processing information.

Cyborg: A cyborg (short for “cybernetic organism”) is a being having both organic and biomechatronic (electronic or mechanical) body parts.

Digital Identity: All the information about an individual or organization that exists online.

Intentional Immersion: Entering a virtual space for a clear purpose.

5G Network: The fifth generation of cellular network technology that will allow faster connectivity and development of the internet of things (IoT).

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