Pro-Active Digital Citizenship: Strategies for Educators

Pro-Active Digital Citizenship: Strategies for Educators

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5667-1.ch005
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Technology advances, particularly in terms of information access and sharing, give rise to complex ethical issues that youth need to grapple with. Digital citizenship necessitates gleaning electronic information and participating actively and ethically in cyberspace to act wisely on that information for social and personal improvement. Today's youth tend to avoid traditional politics; instead, they get their information about the public sphere from social media and engage in lifestyle causes. This chapter explores the role of digital citizenship, civic engagement and the impact of technology on it, current issues in pro-active digital citizenship, conditions for teaching proactive digital citizenship, its curriculum and instruction, and the potential of citizen journalism as a mechanism for facilitating youth-centered proactive digital citizenship.
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Today’s technology has substantially changed the face of society. First, technology significantly expands and speeds up access to the world of information, as well as its creation, processing, organization, and dissemination. Moreover, people can respond to each other and share group information much more easily than in the past. ICT (Information and communication technology) has led to knowledge-driven economies.

However, Floridi (2010) contended that ICT also prompts challenges about inequity of access, quality and control of information, globalization, the de-physicalization of objects and processes, the Internet of Things, human and data privacy, social behavior, and ultimately the nature of human beings and their digital alter egos.

Floridi specifically discussed information ethics, particularly in light of technology’s influence. The quantity and quality of information that one accesses impact the generation of new information, which in turn impact the information environment or ecosystem. As individuals encounter digital information, the concomitant accelerated change of pace can result in information overload or silos of thought. More than ever, the user needs to interpret the format of information as well as its content, and its context. Furthermore, although mechanically value-neutral, technology’s tools may be used ethically or non-ethically. The reach and impact of technology-enhanced information and communication can have global consequences never before so powerful (e.g., hacking, stock market crashes, terrorism). The use of information technology both in information consumption and production carry ethical weight, which needs to be addressed by its users. To that end, educators have an ethical responsibility to teach students information ethics.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Public Sphere: An environment where all people can express their ideas and challenge others rationally without retribution based on ideas rather than speaker status, and can influence public agenda without external coercion or systematic distraction.

Civics Education: A political process of meaning-making, moral regulation, and culture production that focuses on it means to be a member of a national state.

Citizen Journalism: User-centered news production and participatory journalism.

Infosphere: The environment that is populated by informational entities.

Citizen (or Citizenship) Education: Curriculum that teaches the skills to enable citizen participation; a willingness to investigate community issues; the ability to recognize and analyze socio-economic, political, and ecological factors that need to be addressed in order to solve community issues; and the ability and willingness to act to help the community to have a sustainable future.

Social media: Interactive web-based communications means.

Digital Citizenship: The ability to use technology safely, responsibly, critically, productively, and civically.

Pro-Active Digital Citizenship: The integration of digital citizenship and civic engagement; individuals using technology to improve their communities.

Cultural Literacy: The ability to be open to learning about other cultures and sharing one’s own culture, to change personal perspectives, to communicate effectively across cultures, and to act as a cultural change agent.

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