Understanding Digital Citizenship

Alec Couros was the speaker in Changemooc this week.

He is clearly a popular speaker and there were a number of people attending who obviously regarded him with a great deal of affection.

Alec talked about digital citizenship in terms of Cyber-safety (keeping safe and being able to discern truth from hoaxes and myths); Memes (value laden digital viruses); Copyright/copyleft (we used to consume information, now we produce, remix, share); Network Literacy; Identity (81% of children under the age of two have some form of digital footprint and some even have a footprint before birth); and Activism. See http://mooc.wikispaces.com/couros

Alec hasn’t posted his slides yet – but there are plenty more here – but as he told us and exemplified he has developed his own style of online presentation, which I think was very effective. You certainly couldn’t get bored. He had a lot of slides, but a lot of those were simply images. Text on the slides was limited – and he talked over his slides with a great deal of passion and enthusiasm. Perhaps most impressive was the number of videos he asked us to view during his presentation, which kept it interesting and lively. I think he must spend an awful lot of time online and particularly viewing videos as he seems to be all over the web.

Whilst there was a lot in his presentation that was new to me and fascinating, there were a couple of things that left me questioning.

The first was that during the presentation, the videos that were shown and many photos, left me with the word ‘voyeurism’ floating in my head. I felt as though I was being introduced into people’s lives where I had no right to be.  It left me wondering to what extent the internet encourages us to be ‘voyeurs’.

The second was that I wonder how ethical it is to share another person’s identity online – particularly if that person is a child. I have questioned this before in a discussion with Dean Shareski

I know with absolute certainty that I would not like people to be sharing personal details about me online without my knowledge, understanding or agreement and I doubt that children are in a position to agree to this.  It’s not that I have never mentioned my children online – I have, but I do not understand why a personal communication of love between a parent and child needs to be conducted in view of the whole world. Alec showed one such example of a father sending online messages to his newborn and growing child. What I don’t like about this is that the child cannot object to this. The child doesn’t even know the effect that this might have on their identity and is in no position to control it.

So I do not think that digital citizenship means that you have to be ‘watching’ the lives of people you do not even know, or that you have to share the details of your nearest and dearest with the whole world.