Networked Journalism Education

Understanding digital citizenship as another component of literacy

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Anne Collier writes about online safety for kids in her newsletter, NetFamilyNews. She’s written about media literacy as well as the value of developing relevant, practical notions of digital citizenship. In her latest newsletter she writes a description of digital citizenship that I think applies equally to citizenship in other contexts:

In a participatory media environment, focusing on citizenship helps everybody understand that: 1) they’re stakeholders in their own well-being online, 2) they’re stakeholders in their community’s well-being as well as that of fellow participants (because, in a user-driven environment, safety can’t logically be the sole responsibility of the community’s host), and 3) they have rights and responsibilities online…As my friends at Childnet International in London say at Digizen.org, digital citizenship is about “using your online presence to grow and shape your world in a safe, creative way, and inspiring others to do the same.”

What does this have to do with journalism? If we believe our work is of value because we help people fulfill their responsibilities as citizens, then we need a full and relevant understanding of what citizenship means. As our students increasingly occupy digital worlds as well as physical, we can’t ignore the challenge of developing curriculum that makes citizenship a central concept across the spectrum of experience.

One example: Figuring out how to sponsor and participate in meaningful discussions online has been a vexing problem for many news sites. If our work as journalism educators helps to shape and promote a richer, more active sense of citizenship among our students and the journalism they produce, that will help invigorate the anemic and counter-productive conversations sponsored by many news sites.

Written by Donica

November 20th, 2009 at 3:22 am