What's Happening in Character?

Digital Citizenship: Character Education for Digital Lifestyles

Posted by Jason Ohler on Mon, Feb 22, 2016 @ 09:02 AM

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by Jason Ohler

In many parts of the world, one of the most universally available international experiences is traveling the World Wide Web. It’s hard to believe, but the Internet and the world of ubiquitous connectivity have only gained widespread adoption within the last fifteen years. Yet they are so embedded in our everyday experience we can’t imagine life without them.

It is because the Web is so pervasive and invisible, and provides access to so many different kinds of experiences, that we have developed such a keen and sometimes urgent interest in understanding how best to help students navigate this new world. In the educational arena, this interest has been given the name “digital citizenship,” a reference to our belief that the Internet offers a kind of community experience. Our goal as educators is for students to become the kinds of citizens who know how to interact safely and responsibly in this new community without losing the sense of hope and creative possibility that the Internet inspires.

In a few words, our goals for our students are as follows. We want our students to be safe, ethical and responsible; inspired, innovative and involved; passionate, reflective and empathetic; and informed, savvy and ultimately wise. We want them to interact in this new land as skilled researchers, participants and leaders. As we move forward blending and balancing our lives in the real and online worlds, here are some points to consider to help us realize those goals.

Digital citizenship and character education need to inform each other.

We tend to think of digital citizenship as a technical matter. However, the foundational issue is character, and the digital citizenship movement needs the foundation that character education provides. Yet the digital domain introduces new situations and considerations to issues of character that are complicated and challenging, and bring a breadth and depth to issues of character that are quite new. Character education and digital citizenship need to join forces. Our focus needs to be on how character plays out in both worlds, and how students blend those two worlds into a single, integrated, healthy approach to life.

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Topics: technology, Digital Citizenship

Happy Digital Learning Day!

Posted by Character.org Staff on Wed, Feb 17, 2016 @ 05:02 AM

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How many times have you looked at your cell phone today? How many times have you checked your email? How about Facebook?

Whether we like it or not, technology is integrated into everything that we do. Because of that, need to think critically and intentionally about how we want to integrate technology into our schools and classrooms.

What is Digital Learning Day?

The Alliance for Excellent Education is hosting Digital Learning Day today, February 17, 2016. Their website explains, “Digital Learning Day is not about technology, it’s about learning. It’s not about laying off teachers for laptops, it’s about enhancing the role of the teacher in America’s classrooms. Digital Learning Day promotes the effective use of modern day tools afforded to every other industry to improve the learning experience in K-12 public schools.”

I really love this idea of technology about not replacing certain teaching practices or classroom routines, but enhancing them. But how does this tie in to character education?

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Topics: technology, Digital Citizenship

Creating Digital Citizens: Civic Duty meets the Online Era

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Wed, Feb 10, 2016 @ 11:02 AM

by Becky Sipos

As the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary have dominated the news, I have been thinking more and more about citizenship. Peggy Noonan’s recent column talked about how seriously New Hampshire residents take their responsibility. They even have a state law that requires they host the first primary.

After someone described the people at one event as “professional voters,” Noonan said it was not that. She described the diverse group in attendance and said. “It is more like: ‘We may be a field hospital, we may be high, we may be damaged by the collapse of the American culture, we may be the prime victims of deindustrialization, but we are: citizens. And we do our job. We will pick a president.”

Noonan said, “Choked me up as I witnessed it. No joke. Choked me up.”

That sense of responsibility, of caring about your country and the process of electing a president made me stop and think Are we instilling that feeling in our young people today? Not just the sense of responsibility, but the sense of caring, the sense of taking care of your community, planning for the future.

Thinking about community brought me to thinking about Jason Ohler’s new book that I just read, 4Four Big Ideas for the Future, a compilation of four presentations that he has given. The idea of digital citizenship figures prominently in most of Ohler’s work. What brings these four presentations together is Ohler’s vision of helping people reshape their attitudes toward learning, community, and living a technological lifestyle. Ohler writes: “At the end of the day, we all want a more humane world that honors human potential. We want a world that channels our innately innovative selves toward creating the futures we want, and which can sustain us spiritually, emotionally and physically.”

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Topics: ethical and engaged citizens, Citizenship, Digital Citizenship

The Digital World: Reduce Restrictions to Increase Competence

Posted by Chris Parrott on Fri, Feb 5, 2016 @ 08:02 AM

By Chris Parrott

As the statistics on cyberbullying and sexting rise, a growing sense of alarm does as well. Parents and educators want to know, “How do we protect our kids? How can we safeguard them against the potential dangers involved in social media and Internet use?”

The truth is: nothing is 100% foolproof. Handling social media and the Internet is a lot like driving a car: risks exist (actually, are everywhere), but you can take precautions. We don’t stop riding in cars even though we know they can be deadly. Car transportation has too many benefits, and cars are an essential a part of our lives: they get us where we need to go for just about everything.

The same is true for the digital world. Just like driving a car, we can get really hurt using social media and the Internet. It’s always possible. But the risks are less when we know how to drive - when we know how to navigate the infosphere (the digital world). Yet, rarely do we “teach” how to handle social media to our kids. Rarely do we have discussions about how to use it properly and what the safety precautions are. Instead, more and more, parents and administrations are restricting access to social media out of fear for what could happen (you can’t drive the car). This is a normal human response. But it is not a response that is always in our children’s best interests.

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Topics: technology, Digital Citizenship

Character & Technology Resource Roundup

Posted by Rebecca Bauer on Mon, Feb 1, 2016 @ 08:02 AM

At the 2015 National Forum on Character Education, I visited the Center for Civil & Human Rights with a group of educators. I ran into another conference attendee and asked her how she was liked the museum. She excitedly informed me that she was able to videochat one of the classes at her school, using Skype. A group of elementary school students in New York experienced part of this amazing museum in Atlanta, right from their very own classroom. I was amazed by the power of technology to enhance education when you think creatively.

During February, we’ll be posting about how you can harness these powerful technology tools to enhance your teaching and students’ learning.

Still unconvinced you need to enhance your use of technology in the classroom? Start by reading 10 Reasons Today’s Students NEED Technology in the Classroom.

Technology can help you and your class connect with others, build relationships and learn about the world.

As the educator at the conference demonstrated, Skype is a powerful tool. There are plenty of other video-chatting options, but Skype is one of the most popular. You can skype to connect with your class’s favorite authors, interview an expert on a topic your class is researching or even stay in touch with a student who moved away. Check out the Skype in the Classroom blog for more great ideas.

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Topics: technology, Character Educaiton, Digital Citizenship