Teaching in title one schools in the past six years and leading global education work in international schools, my experience in serving diverse and multicultural communities has shaped my personal and professional values in moving forward as a digital education leader. I am committed to support educators and students to take responsibility of digital actions to create and enforce a safe and secure environment for all students regardless racial and cultural backgrounds, to be aware and challenge media bias and develop vastly different understanding of basic facts in media, and to understand and utilized technologies to build connection and relationship in digital age.
Responsibility, Privacy, and Digital Identity
According to Ribble and Miller (2013), the current gap in technology knowledge and lack of leadership preparation related to digital literacy and citizenship for school environment can cause serious problems. Digital citizenship is a concern for educators, school leader and parents.
I have been working as a middle school teacher in the past 4 years, I have witnessed student I personally had connection with experienced depression due to cyber bullying; I have worked with students who lost all their reading credits from online reading program because others logged on to their account to clear their effort; and I have experienced students posted threaten message in social media and our school needed to get polices to investigate. I have realized the urgency to prepare students, especially secondary students for a digital future that is safe, healthy, and effective, and the need to help students to take caution on their personal data and information use and be responsible for their digital actions.
ISTE standard 7d addressed that digital education leaders should empower educator, leadersand students to make informed decisions to protect their personal data and curate the digital profile they intend to reflect. The concept of privacy in students while they establish their personal identify in the digital community is critically important in digital citizenship education.During the study of Middle School Students’ Social Media Use by Martin and Wang (2018), middle school students have not fully established the awareness and capabilities to protect themselves and they also try to keep online social information from their parents and teachers. One of the data demonstrated their willingness to accept friend request from unknow people was 40%. It shows that security education for middle school students is a concern and needs to be addressed in digital citizenship education.
“Avital part of growing up is forming our identity. Identity is often reflected as how you perceive yourself as well as how other perceive you.” (Martin, 2018, p215) Students navigate websites and use different social medias, they post their pictures, their preferences, theirlocation or their personal life to establish their identity. They are not aware that their actions online if not easily anonymous when they are offline, and they need to take responsibility of their online actions in real life. Cyber bullying and online harassment often are the results of irresponsible online behaviors that can lead to depression and even suicide in real life.
Digital privacy is where the boundaries are when sharing information about oneself and others online. The process of creating log in accounts, usernames and passwords is another way to establish an identity online. Students need to learn how to create strong passwords and protect their private information on their user accounts, such as address, phone number, or financial information. Educators need to consider including concept of identity theft, data theft online scams into curriculums. In the ISTE blog (Zumpano, 2019), it is recommended that teaching digital responsibility includes the concept of digital privacy and identity, and it should be implemented into curriculum with scope and sequence in earlier age to ensure students are well prepared take responsibility to create a safe and secure digital environment for others as well.
Bias awareness in Digital Information
Bias regardless is conscious or unconscious against the value of diversity and equality. The community I am serving has a high percentage of students of color and students who are underserved. Bias awareness allows us to build strong relationship with others and positive environment in our community.
Media sources have tremendous power in influencing young people’s belief or perspectives toward their community and individuals in their community. Bias is especially harmful while individuals are not aware of their implicit bias and lack of reflection to examine the bias in digital sources. It is an important step for students to develop vastly different understandings of the basic facts of a digital information.
ISTE standard 7a, our goal is to inspire and encourage educators and students to use technology for civic engagement and to address challenges to improve their communities. It requires students to understand diversity, cultural understanding, and global awareness in using technology and digital communication tools in order to engage and challenge the issues in the community. Bias is a tendency to believe that some people or ideas are better than others, which often results in treating some people unfairly. “Particularly social media, bias enters through the backdoor of design optimization in which the humans who create the algorithms and hidden from view.” (Ruha, 2019, 5-6) According to ISTE standard 7c: Support educators and students to critically examine the sources of online media and identify underlying assumptions, we need to help students understand their own implicit bias and to question whether information should be trusted or not. In the article of “How to Detect Bias in News Media”, it lists strategies to challenge bias in news media by asking ourselves questions:
- Who are the sources? Political perspective of the sources used in a story often tend to serve as megaphones for those in power.
- Is there a lack of diversity? Did the media reflect the diversity of the community they sever?
- Whose point of view is the news reported? Did the people evolve in the issue have their voice in the media?
- Are these double standards? Search for parallel example or similar stories that were reported differently.
- Do stereotypes skew coverage? Did the article or news involve in stereotypes and characterize individuals unfairly?
- What are the unchallenged assumptions?
- Is the language loaded? Language choice can give people an inaccurate impression on the story or issue.
- Is there a lack of context?
- Do the headlines and stories match?
- Are stories on important issues featured prominently?
Here is a quote my district used to confirm the importance of using critical thinking as a strategy to examine information we received: “A democratic education means that we educate people in a way that ensures they can think independently that they can use information, knowledge, and technology, among other things, to draw their own conclusions. “by Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond from Stanford University.
Connection and Relationship Building
When I think of connection, it means knowing, belonging, trusting, and respecting. I believe humans are profoundly social species; we want to connect with others since we were born as we want to have connection with our parents and throughout our lives as adults. Technology has changed the way we connect with others as it allows us to reach further and more.
In the article of “The Future of Well-Being in a Tech-Saturated World,” Janna and Lee argued that technology has brought more positive impact to human connection than negative impact because “digital life links people to people, knowledge, education and entertainment anywhere globally at any time in an affordable, nearly frictionless manner”. According to the interviewer in their research, Daniel Weitzner who is a principal research scientist and founding director of MIT’s Internet Policy Research Initiative shared his idea that internet is the ultimate connection machine to fulfill the need of connection for human as “internet connect people with meaningful and rewarding information and relationships.”
Although I personally benefited from technology to stay connected with family and friends in other countries, it seems too ideal that technology only brings positive impact to our social connection. The article “The Digital Age: Are We Losing Human Connection?” argued thatvirtual connection in the form of cyber bulling, trolls and grooming can result in rejection which leads to a significant effect on individual resilience and perception of self in young children, and it can carry over into adulthood. It listed examples of people feeling rejected in virtual society:
- Social media enables and promotes social comparison to others and create a feeling of “I am not good enough”.
- The rise of the fear of missing out and lost the membership in a group occurs when people don’t tune in and keep up to date in social media.
- People lacking social skills to make friends on-line potentially leading to more isolation
- Constant checking, and interrupting ‘in the moment’ social interactions not only perpetuates immediate gratification for the user but can have a negative impact on others present.
According to ISTE standard 7b, Partner with educators, leaders, students and families to foster a culture of respectful online interactions and a healthy balance in their use of technology. The goal to foster a culture of respectful online interactions should be built upon the foundation of positive social connections in the digital world. While technology truly bring the convenience to connect more people in more places, the social connection we make through technology should always be reflected on its quality.
Quality student teacher relationships often can be reflected on student’s engagement, motivation, or performance. In the article “Creating birds of similar feathers: Leveraging similarity to improve teacher-student relationships and academic achievement”, Dr. Hunter Gehlbach and colleagues found that when students and teachers discover what they have in common, they are more likely to foster a positive and quality relationship—which can improve student performance and reduce achievement gaps, especially for our underserved students like African American and Latino students. One of the suggestions to build positive students teacher relationship is using “get to know you” survey and use student and teacher shared interests to start conversations and provide more small groups or individual opportunities to meet virtually and connect with students.
Ribble, M., Northern Miller, T., “Educational Leadership in an Online World: Connecting Students to Technology Responsibly, Safely, and Ethically,” Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17:1 (2013): 137-45
Martin, F., Wang, C., Petty, T., Wang, W., & Wilkins, P. (2018). Middle School Students’ Social Media Use. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 21(1), 213-224. Retrieved October 2, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/26273881
Zumpano, N. (2019, October 17). 5 things students should do to stay safe and secure online. Retrieved October 09, 2020, from https://www.iste.org/explore/Digital-and-media-literacy/5-things-students-should-do-to-stay-safe-and-secure-online
Nickerson, R.S. (1998). Confirmation Bias: A Ubiquitous Phenomenon in Many Guises. Review of General Psychology, 2, 175 – 220. https://www.npr.org/2015/12/21/460602085/digital-culture-critic-abandons-fake-on-the-internet-column
Ruha Benjamin, “Introduction,” Race after Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code (Medford, MA: Polity, 2019), 1-32 https://fair.org/take-action-now/media-activism-kit/how-to-detect-bias-in-news-media/
Janna Anderson and Lee Rainie, “The Future of Well-Being in a Tech-Saturated World,” Pew Research Center, April 17, 2018
Jones, L. (2018). The Digital Age: Are We Losing Human Connection? Retrieved from https://thriveglobal.com/stories/the-digital-age-are-we-losing-human-connection/
Gehlbach, H., Brinkworth, M. E., King, A. M., Hsu, L. M., McIntyre, J., & Rogers, T (2016). Journal of Educational Psychology, 108 (3), 342-352. https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/todd_rogers/files/creating_birds_0.pdf