Reflections on Digital Citizenship

Welcome to a series of journal entries that will reflect on my journey towards defining and redefining my understanding, application, analysis, and evaluation on digital citizenship within both my personal and professional environments. 

Journal Entry #1: June 11, 2017

I have always been interested in digital citizenship. I have always had some small bit of knowledge as to what it was and why it was there. I remember when I was in elementary and middle school, I was taught how to type without looking at the keyboard. I was taught the parts of a computer and how to turn it on and off. I was taught that surfing the Internet was something I needed to be careful with. And when I excelled in all of that, I fell in love. I fell in love with technology. I fell in love with the idea that I could move mountains with the touch of a few buttons. Later on, I took a technology class in high school. Here I learned about Microsoft and all of its wonders. I learned how to use Excel, Access, and one of my favorites, Publisher. One of my assignments was to make a brochure on the university that I was interested in attending one day, and I remember it so clearly: Princeton. Yep, not Harvard, not Yale, but Princeton. And my teacher had so much hope for me. But as life has it, I didn’t go to Princeton; I couldn’t afford it.

But I did the next best thing, I kept working hard. I obtained my Associate’s, then my Bachelor’s, and soon, my Master’s. All in education. And when I started my Master’s, I saw a problem. I saw that not everyone was on board with technology, much less with the rapid change associated with new breakthroughs, new technologies, and especially with the new devices coming out every six months.

So now I evaluate schools based on their involvement in creating a generation of digitally informed citizens. Fortunately, when I was bullied in school, it was not via the web. It was done face to face. This taught me to be a little bit more tough and to face problems head on. But nowadays, we hear about all these stories about students hurting themselves and others because of the communication that is performed through various social media. So now the essential question is: how do we battle this new form of bullying? Or the new form of stealing copyrighted works? Or even sending something so simple as an email to your teacher or boss or company to complain about a faulty product?

We start with empathy. We start with teaching our children, our students, our peers, and colleagues about what being a good citizen is. And once they understand that, we make it a bit more specific. We talk about what it means to be a digital citizen. What is digital? What are the elements that define a digital citizen? How do we define those elements at home, in schools, or at the workplace? And how do we apply them? Analyze? Evaluate? And even create? Because we are a part of a new world where technology is part of everyone’s daily lives. And what we are doing is witnessing what ignorance is doing to our children, to our teens, to parents and teachers. And that should not be the case. We should be confronting it.

Journal Entry #2: June 18, 2017

I am part of the iGeneration. I was born in 1992. I don’t think I touched a computer until I was in fourth grade. But since then, I have not gone without some sort of technology device in my hands, even if it wasn’t mine (okay, I’m talking about my mother’s prepaid Virgin Mobile cellphone). So, when I think about the impact that access to technology has had on my personal life, I think, “What part of my life hasn’t been impacted?” I can say I am not as addicted to it as I used to be when I was a teen, but I rely on it for my career and professional development as an educator, for the advancement of my career (my master’s program at Lamar) which falls under education, and for personal uses such as reading the news, shopping online, paying bills online, etc. So yes, it makes a great impact in everything I do and everywhere I go.

Now, when it comes to my students, well, most of them come from a low socio-economic background. Maybe 1 out of 16 students will have computers at home and about 8 out of 16 will have access to mobile devices at home. Right now, I don’t think technology plays a huge role in their lives. They’re first graders. But, I do think they would like more access to it. For example, something as simple as borrowing a book from my personal library will excite them. Imagine how they react when I allow for more opportunities to explore applications on the classroom iPads. They go wild! I hope that this is not the case when they grow up. I hope that they have an increased access to technology so that their opportunities for personal, educational, and professional advancements are not limited.

A digital footprint is every track that you leave when you access the Internet. It is the track you leave when you’re doing research for school. It is the track you leave when you are looking up a video on YouTube on a funny compilation of cats. It is what you leave behind when you are shopping on Amazon.com or paying bills online. It is everything you access, everything you search, copy, paste, share, like, etc. I was in the market of trading in my SUV for a more fuel-efficient car. So, I did some research. Well, lately, I’m seeing all these ads of cars everywhere I look-even on my WordPress E-Porfolio!

When I performed a search on myself, thankfully, there were not any negative results. Because I perform searches on myself every few weeks, I was not surprised. I have learned to be very careful and cautious of what I share on the Internet. A few years ago, I started to delete accounts that I didn’t find useful to my personal and professional life. I deactivated Facebook a few months ago. I’ve been a happier person ever since. The accounts that popped up in my current search included Twitter (which is my PLN), my profile on the staff’s directory on my school’s homepage, Google+, WordPress, and YouTube (which is the same account under my personal Google email). All other results were of different people, which I find interesting because there are not a lot of Isaura Herrera’s that I know (none, actually). Usually, I tend to avoid digital profiles like Instagram, Snapchat, and Timblr. I find myself very proud of my digital footprint thus far. Even though some of it I deleted, I know that some of it still remains somewhere out in the universe of the Internet. Hopefully, none of it ever comes back to haunt me.

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