Daring Thoughts on Critical Digital Citizenship: Promoting Empathy and Social Justice Online & Three Models of Digital Literacy :

In my world, everything is linked, doubling back on itself, picking up information, shared history, linked languages, linked thoughts. I see no concrete lines between subject matter, literacies, histories, topics, languages. Everything is linked by history. I teach a World Language and Humanities, but my people? Historians.

History links people. History links subject matter. History links US as global citizens, across geography and across cultures and political divides.

In the same interconnected and interconnecting manner, creative literacy, universal literacy and literacy across disciplines link, define and are defined by each other. The definitions offered by Three Models of Literacy offer a way to understand and apply literacy across disciplines of 450 surveyed teachers.

Universal Literacy is understood as digital and tech savvy: the skills necessary to navigate life within the digital society. Information literacy is thought of as digital skills that a person will need to allow him or her to participate as a citizen of tech society.

Creative Literacy practices are those that engage the creator and the designer of UX or user experience. These skills are not everyone’s forte and the idea is that the producer or maker is involved in creative design, interface design, code design or another area that will impact the end user.

Finally, Literacy across Disciplines is the practice of literacies, specific to disciplines. Medicine requires its own set of tech and media literacy fluencies, just as education requires knowledge and ability to practically model and engage learners.

Maha Bali talks about the role of critical thinking and refers to Paulo Freire’s work, Freire writes, “The end goal of critical thinking is to challenge the status quo in order to achieve social justice, collectively raising consciousness of conditions promoting oppression in order to achieve liberation.”

Maha Bali writes about her belief in the “potential of the digital in promoting empathetic and social justice-oriented critical citizenship, rather than digital citizenship in general.” Critical Digital Citizenship, dml central, June 30, 2016

Her basic premise is that it is possible to foster and develop critical digital citizenship.

Empathy and social justice must be the focus and remain at the center of the desire to become a critically responsible digital citizen.

As we examine the Nine Themes of Digital Citizenship:

  1. Digital Access or full electronic participation in society.
  2. Digital Commerce – electronic buying and selling.
  3. Digital Communication – electronic exchange of information.
  4. Digital Literacy – process of teaching and learning about technology and its proper use and application.
  5. Digital Etiquette – electronic standards of conduct or procedure.
  6. Digital Law – electronic responsibility for actions and deeds.
  7. Digital Rights and Responsibilities.
  8. Digital Health and Wellness – physical and psychological well-being in a digital technology world.
  9. Digital Security – electronic precautions to guarantee safety.

As we compare both sets of themes. it becomes clear that there is a connectedness and overlay between the definitions and Themes of Digital Citizenship and the Three Models of Literacy .

Concluding questions: What is the link? What connects them? The technology? Or the ethical and empathetic use of it? What can drive ethical use? How do we teach critical digital citizenship? How do we model critical digital citizenship?

I assert that understanding the history, our history as humans, as cultures, the “connects”, the “disconnects” and the story between critical digital citizenship and understanding our obligations and responsibilities in technology’s ethical use: only in expanding our understanding of all of these will we be able to promote Social Justice online, across cultures and political boundaries.  Do we dare?

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