A Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age   EdSurge News
Mike Gwaltney and I presented this afternoon at OESIS a session on robust and responsible digital citizenship; see my previous post for those slides.

At the center of that session we shared with the session participants the recently published EdSurge “Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age,” and then asked them to use it is a model and inspiration for discussing and developing in small groups their own set of rights and responsibilities for learning, participating, and contributing in the digital age, aka a digital citizenship bill of rights.

Here is the link to the open google document for those who wish to join in the conversation and add their own additional suggestions: it is (should be) an open for editing document.

Below is the what the group came up with in our short time together.  I also welcome readers to use the comment box as another way to add their own suggestions or comment on this set– (which is not meant to be my own work, nor to be inclusive/exhaustive).

Our followup conversation was about the potential for bringing this back to your school community– Mike asked if it were Polyannish to think that this might be a real option.  But the conversation in the room was rich with the optimism that this is an exercise feasible in our schools and in our classrooms, democratizing the AUP.  Several said they are already in the midst of reinventing the AUP into a RUP– Responsible Use Policy– and a “Digital Citizenship Agreement.”

Several seemed to think it would be exciting to take this approach and make it a democratizing experience in our schools as a vehicle for all members of an educational community to examining, reflecting upon, and developing a more thoughtful, intentional, and meta-cognitive appreciation for the rights, responsibilities, and opportunities of digital citizenship.

Rights

  • Freedom of Expression
  • Participation
  • Guidance and Mentorship
  • The right to access and not be filtered.
  • Privacy and boundaries
  • Right to your own creations with attribution.
  • To safely experiment with ideas and expression and points of view.
  • To Be treated with respect and common decency
  • To participate in communities to the degree to which one is comfortable.
  • To equal access.
  • To unfiltered civil discourse and avoid the echo chamber tendency.
  • To unplugged time.
  • To contribute to and build upon the creative commons.
  • To Access.
  • To be Creative
  • To express thoughtfully
  • To express oneself without censorship
  • To Transparency
  • To dialog in a safe environment—without there being a right answer.
  • To an environment in which things would not be said that we couldn’t /wouldn’t say face to face.
  • To engage honestly with peers and that others will reciprocate understanding.
  • To change your mind without being ridiculous.
  • Ownership
  • Expression
  • T0 Control one’s identity and presence.
  • To Community.
  • T0 Curiosity

Responsibilities

  • Honesty
  • Transparency
  • Cautiousness
  • Respect for other opinions
  • Taking responsibility and being held accountable.
  • Treating others online as you would in person.
  • Policy yourself and your colleagues
  • Understands the responsibility that they are part of a community not a lone wolf.
  • Mindfulness
  • Self-Monitoring
  • To self-regulate connections and connected-ness.
  • Control one’s identity and presence.

Mike Gwaltney and I enjoyed greatly facilitating this conversation on digital citizenship, rights, principles and responsibilities.     We ended up just focusing on the digital bill of rights, which will be posted here soon, but we wanted to make available the rest of these slides for those who might be interested.

From the book:
“None of these technologies are isolated, or isolating, systems.   People are not hooked on gadgets– they are hooked on each other
.

The new media is the new neighborhood. 

This is the era of free agents and the spirit of personal agency. But it is not the World According to Me– it not a world autonomous and increasingly isolated individualists.  Rather, it is the World According to the Connected Me. 

The more people use the internet, the more friends they have, the more they see their friends, and the more socially diverse their networks.  

People’s lives offline and online are now integrated– it no longer makes sense to make a distinction.”

This new book, Networked: The New Social Operating System by Lee Rainie (of the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project) and Barry Wellman (of the University of Toronto’s NetLab),  to which I was directed by Howard Rheingold’s terrific Net Smart, is a refreshingly no-holds-barred,  full-throated advocacy for the power of the network to improve lives, learning, and society.

The book, sadly, is not a complete success;  at times its narrative flattens into research-report data drudgery, and sometimes its voice  speaks about contemporary digital lives to its readers as if we lived on Mars or in the 19th century:  much of what is explained requires little explanation.   And the two “interludes”- intended as richly described “days in the life” of a networked, wired young person– simply fail, I believe, to illuminate, inform or influence minds (more about this at bottom).

But, if you are caught up in the current intellectual debate about the value of online networking– if you are looking for helpful argumentation versus the Turkles and Carrs– this is a valuable book, collecting and sharing research based evidence and an idealistic vision for where we are headed as a society of increasingly networked individuals.  And if you are looking for guidance on how to be a more effective online citizen, or netizen, this book offers good guidance.

The title is Networked, but the argument is something a bit different: many of us are living now not in a networked society but lives of “networked individualism.”  Because it is as individuals we are networked– at the very same time that we are more connected, we are less group-defined, less tied to tight networks such as churches and small town communities.

This new world of networked individualism is oriented around looser, more fragmented networks that provide succor.

Small densely knit groups like families, villages, and small organizations have receded in recent generations.  A different social order has emerged around social networks that are more diverse and less overlapping than those previous groups.

The networked operating system offers new ways to solve problems and meet needs. It offers more freedom to individuals than people experienced in the past because now they have more room to manuevre and more capacity to act on their own. (more…)

“There’s a seventh C too, you know” my neighboring seat-mate, the excellent educator Larry Kahn,  leaned over to whisper to me.   “Really,” I said, “what?”  “Connectivism.”

I wasn’t sure whether I was painfully behind the times, not already knowing about this seventh C, or alternatively that I’d been let into a secret club, the club of connectivism, but I was hooked.

Pat Bassett, the NAIS President, was presenting, and he shared with us his vision of the 6 C’s, be they 21st century skills or the essential capacities for success today: Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration, Creativity (the big 4 emphasized by P-21, edleader21, and Ken Kay), Character and Cosmopolitanism (Cross-Cultural Communication and Collaboration).

The elusive 7th C, though, I’m increasingly becoming convinced, is key: essential, exciting, empowering, elevating.   It captures something about learning today and tomorrow, and the way I understand it, it taps into, draws upon, and expresses (with its helpful first letter C), the power of networks and all that they can do to advance each of us individually and as groups.

This 7th C is just as important, I’m coming to believe, for ourselves to learn and develop and for us to faciliate our student learning, as any of other 6 C’s, even if, conceptually, it is still relatively more elusive than the first six.

Connectivism is defined on Wikipedia this way:

Connectivism was introduced as a theory of learning based on the premise that knowledge exists in the world rather than in the head of an individual. Connectivism proposes a perspective similar to the Activity theory of Vygotsky as it regards knowledge to exist within systems which are accessed through people participating in activities. (more…)

Choosing what I believe is the Book of the Year is always a fun task —what new book each year most informs, illuminates, and influences me?     2008 the nod went to Tony Wagner’s Global Achievement Gap (Godin’s Tribes the close runner-up), 2009 Perkins’ Making Learning Whole,  and 2010 was the year of Steven Johnson’s Where Good Ideas Come From (with Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus close behind.)  In 2011 John Seely Brown’s New Culture of Learning took my prize.  (Christensen’s Innovators DNA and McGonigal’s Reality is Broken were also contenders.)

2012 is only half over, and it isn’t impossible that my current nominee will be toppled, but I don’t think it likely.   Howard Rheingold’s Net Smart: How to Thrive Online is terrific: ambitious in scope but humble in tone; enthusiastic about opportunities but tempered by the recognition of the risks and downsides;  sweeping in its broad-brushed depiction of our new era of empowerment and participation while specific in its suggestions of precise techniques and initiatives we can take to best leverage our staggeringly new connectivity.

It should be said that this valuable book is a bit more work than most of the other titles mentioned above.   Johnson’s book was popular in airports, published by mainstream presses and written in a very general non-fiction manner, intended for wider audiences and reasonably easily read on a cross-country flight.   Brown’s book is breezy and accessible, with large font and charming anecdotes, easily able to be read over a 90 minute flight.   Rheingold, by contrast, is published by MIT press, with smaller font size and a greater seriousness— it isn’t an academic monograph, but will take more concentrated and extended attention than the others.

As I noted already in my previous post, Rheingold deserves great credit for his carefully nuanced balance of enthusiasm and sobriety about digital engagement and connected-ness, for which I am so appreciative.    Digital media is (or are, if you prefer) a great gift to us and to our abilities to form community, to collaborate and create, and to gather information and to contribute information, to participate and contribute to the wider world in ways we never had before.

Used mindfully, how can digital media help us grow smarter?  My years of study and experience have led me to conclude that humans are humans because we invent thinking and communicating tools that enable us to do bigger, more powerful things together. (more…)

In the project to educate our students to be digitally savvy and empower them to use the resources of the web to best pursue their own passions in learning as well as to research, evaluate, and use information in their coursework, we could stand to be more intentional in helping them shape their online environment than we have been thus far.

Truth be told, I could stand to be more savvy in my own organizing of online learning and networking: I’ve been slow to use tools and develop skills for managing online resource, such as the use of vehicles like Symbaloo, Evernote, or Diigo, and I want to take inspiration from the 7th grade student in the video above to move forward in this way and learn and practive better these skills and with these tools.

In a valuable, but not web-posted (as far as I can see), article in the recent Independent School magazine, Wendy Drexler, a former independent school educator who is now directing online learning at Brown University, offers advice on facilitating students in shaping their personal learning environments.

A PLE is the method students use to organize their self-directed online learning, including the tools they employ to gather information, conduct research, and present their findings.    As the name implies, PLEs give learners a high degree of control over their work by allowing them to customize the learning experience and connect to others, including experts in the field. (more…)

I greatly admire author Cathy Davidson, and I very much wanted to love this book, but sadly I don’t.

Now You See It comes from an exciting intellect, a scholar and an academic, a sparkling enthusiast and vigorous advocate for the “new learning” modes that my blog here promotes and celebrates.   Davidson’s focus is the university, and as a Vice Provost at Duke she led that university forward in meaningful and important ways; now at HASTAC she is clearly one of the nation’s most important educational thinkers and innovators in her work seeking to transform learning to modes that are contemporary, relevant, engaging, and preparatory for students.

So why I am so disappointed in the book?  As I’ve reflected about it, I think my main sadness is that in her advocacy for students being online and networked, and in her defense against what we all can recognize has been at times a loud and emphatic backlash against the problems of multi-tasking and digital distraction, she seems to work so hard to defend her turf that she allows for no compromise, no middle path, no synthesis, and the extremism of her position and/or rhetoric undermine her very argument and what are our shared goals.

There are terrific elements in the book.   She relates exciting educational innovations that she helped to pioneer at Duke; I am very inspired by the way she implemented the iPod experiment with undergrads at Duke, a “calculated exercise in disruption, distraction, and difference,” and the great advances in creativity, collaboration, and communication that unfolded as a result. (more…)

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