Digital Rights and Responsibilities

  1. Citizenship and involvement with any community involves two elements: rights and responsibilities. When membership is provided within a given country or within a given community there are certain rights afforded and with those rights come responsibilities. Digital communities similarly have rights and responsibilities. When a student is given the right to the Internet as part of their education, there are expectations and responsibilities that come with this right. The student affords and expects safety and security when online, respect for shared ideas and fair treatment of resources created and shared via the Internet.

    The challenge for education is affording rights and responsibilities on a sliding scale such that students in Kindergarten are not afforded the same responsibilities or rights as students in Grade 12. By Grade 12, students have had at least a dozen years of opportunity to develop citizenship, and now digital citizenship skills and knowledge. Kindergarten students have obviously had mere months and lack the developmental levels for some of the needed responsibilities and subsequent rights.

    Defining this sliding scale presents a challenge for policy-makers, but as a starting point, identifying a broad philosophic stance serves all students. Does the organization support students’ living one life or two lives (one life at school and another life outside of school (Ohler, 2010))? Does the philosophic statement recognize the fundamental nature of change occurring in society through technology and the subsequent importance of learning with technology to prepare students for social and work lives?

    If the organizational philosophic statements are of this order and subsequently support digital citizenship instruction, then the next step is to ascertain how much control and management is needed within the organization. How can the organization develop digital citizens? Well-prepared digital citizen students will reduce the need for control and management offered through strictly stated acceptable use policies. Well-prepared digital citizens also reduce the need for technical control.

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