Blog 8 Thoughts, History & Social Justice

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?

Blog 6: New Media Literacy, Martin Luther & Technology? What?

Change the world?  Can you? 


One dude did. A monk named Martin Luther (1483-1586) did, with the help of German printers and the new technology of the day: the printing press.

Check it out at the Minneapolis Art Institute . “As an entrepreneurial venture, they (the printers) set the 95 Theses into type, printed them and reproduced them,” says MIA Art Curator Tom Rassieur,”When they saw how rapidly they were selling, they made copies and copies and copies. It went viral.” (Via @NPR: How Technology Helped Martin Luther Change Christianity  – Martin Luther, New Technologies .)

Wait. This was not the first time that a literacy technology transformed the world.              New literacy technologies used in the transformation of history is traceable to the 1st Century. (Kurt Weitzmann’s, Late Antique and Early Christian Book Illumination. 1977, George Braziller, Inc., New York, NY.)

Codex – the book form still in use today – was introduced and slowly replaced the scroll. Scrolls were as long as 35 feet and were bulky, prone to breakage and deterioration.

Get this: Codex did not fully replace scrolls until the 4th Century. (The Transition from the Roll to the Codex: Technological and Cultural Implications: Transitional phases in the formation of the book.)

400 years. Whoa. A good thing to remember when we argue with students about the use of their phones, rail against faulty internet, dispute with colleagues about new media, technology transformation and it’s ethical use and question the practical approach of Open Scholarship (Blog 5):

Books: the technology that we depend on today took 400 years to adapt and adopt.  

Adapt and Adopt.  Hmm.  Think about that when you seek to link ideas for change to students using #AdventureLearning and WeExplore  to global issues or when you try to  change the social recycling patterns of your community.  400 years.  Adapt & Adopt. Are you willing to try some patience?  Are you willing to question? Are you willing to adapt and adopt?

Blog 4: Do you understand how you learn? Really?

What if we drew a line from the idea of practicing Critical Pedagogy (Maha Bali, 2014) to Connie Yowell’s assertion that the process of engaging the learner – the context – has to matter more than linking teaching subject matter to “Desired Outcomes” and test scores. Critical pedagogy is essentially: “Learning habits (reading, writing, discourse) that intentionally question.” (This my own one-sentence summary – you may feel free to disagree.)  What if, we link a community of practice, or a practice of learning to… learning how we learn? The Art & Science of learning everything…. by @TFerris

If we, as teachers, are engaged in the practice of critical pedagogy (or a reflective practice) … then, in theory, we should be deeply intrigued and invested in, learner engagement. Except: we are not. I would assert that even the most critically engaged teacher, enthralled with the process of engaging the learner and trying to remain deeply committed to the idea of learning contextual process, may return to their default setting: measuring learner outcomes. The reason that we may be inclined to return to the default setting is: this is the modus operandi, if you will, or the way that we were educated. Annoyingly, as in parenting, we return to what we know, even if we don’t like it, ourselves, or what it does to our classrooms and the learners in it.

I posit that, critically, if we are to emerge on the other side of the “new” online educational reality with a new paradigm, we need to fully engage in the process of re-creating the learning space. And we need to be thoughtfully, wholly and reflectively and critically cognizant of the process, our role within the process and how we can facilitate a learning environment that can creatively take on the process together. “The development of community as a part of the learning process helps create a learning experience that is empowering and rich. It is essential to impart the importance of this process to faculty in order to maximize the use of the online medium in education. Without it, we are simply recreating our tried and true educational model and calling it innovative,” without fully exploring the potential the online medium holds.” (Pallof & Pratt, 2007.)

I think Yowell’s assertion is pertinent. And I believe that the idea of focusing on the learner process vs. learner outcome, is possible in all content areas.

In conclusion: Does anyone agree or disagree with the idea that we are on the cusp of a new paradigm in education, as we make over our online classrooms into critically engaged learning spaces? What could be an unintended down side? What if we remained life-long learners, engaged in learning and maker-spaces that connected us socially, intellectually and emotionally so that all participants emerged richer for the experience and devoted to the ideas of cultural, class and societal change on a global level? What then?