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Why SHOULD you care about digital security?

As a middle school digital literacy teacher, one of the toughest topics to unpack is online surveillance. When we start discussing the Patriot Act and the use of cell-site simulators by some local law enforcement agencies, for example, I worry that students walk away from class feeling frightened, with vague notions that “the government” is “watching” them. While I don’t want to sow the seeds of paranoia, the fact is that government agencies (and corporations, and hackers) really are watching what users do online, and I want my students to know about it. So together we build understanding of what governmental and corporate surveillance looks like, who sponsors it, and the motivations for this surveillance. We also look at how protections from surveillance differ around the world.

 But inevitably comes that comment. You know the one. We’ve all heard it: from friends, coworkers, family members.

“Well, I don’t care. I’m not doing anything wrong so I have nothing to hide.” 

Enter Kade Croc…
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Deeper Understanding via the Internet - Is It Possible?

I'm always thinking about how technology can enhance understanding and learning, but also how it can just as easily diminish those same things. Trying to tell the difference requires a sensitivity to how technology more generally enhances and diminishes our lives. I'm consumed by these thoughts as I put together a lesson on skills needed for the digital age. I'm teaching this class to 11th and 12th graders as part of a digital citizenship unit in a civics class (more on that in future posts). To think about what skills are necessary I'm thinking about the pitfalls that kids and adults alike fall prey to when using the Internet. 
Howard Gardner and Katie Davis' 2013 book The App Generation: How Today's Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World provides some great insight on this topic. Gardner and Davis explore how the Internet and the technologies we use to go online most often lead to only surface level understanding of complex iss…

Digital citizenship vs digital responsibility (there's a huge difference)

I love this post titled Why I Hate "Digital Citizenship" from Keith Heggart on Edutopia and Heggart's own website. Heggart in fact really cares about digital citizenship, but not narrowly defined as keeping children safe online, as it so often is. He distinguishes between digital responsibility and digital citizenship, and writes, "It's kind of like teaching children to cross the road safely, and then claiming that's teaching citizenship. Citizenship is how to participate - safely, yes, but also meaningfully and thoughtfully - in civil society, in political, social and other spheres." The verb "participate" is the key. Digital citizenship education is about so much more than telling teenagers "what to post and what not to post", which, as Heggart says, is a very noble endeavor, but just doesn't go far enough in our quest to grow active citizens.

I'm developing a digital citizenship unit within a high school civics course, Thi…

Douglas Rushkoff's Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age

I recently read Douglas Rushkoff's 2010 book, Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age. I first heard of the book at a panel at this year's Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association (PCA/ACA) national conference - one of the presenters mentioned that she used this book for an "Intro to Critical Thinking" course she teaches to college freshmen. It's an interesting choice for that purpose, because Rushkoff isn't so much arguing in this book that people should take on a particularly critical perspective when interacting with the media of a digital age. Instead he's arguing that we should concern ourselves with understanding the way it all works, and that effort to understand will itself engender a critical perspective.

Rushkoff uses the term "program" in a very literal sense - his ideal 21st century citizen would absolutely know how to program, and actually, he says, it's not that hard and anyone can learn how. Bu…