Model and facilitate safe, healthy, legal, and ethical uses of digital information and technologies

As educators and digital education leaders, we have a unique opportunity to model and promote the healthy use of technology in a digital age. Some excerpts from my vision and mission as a digital education leader speak to my view about safe, healthy, legal and ethical use of digital information and technologies.

The safe, ethical, legal and healthy use of digital information and technology is extremely important in our hyper-connected world. We are inundated with technology and the use often causes ethical dilemmas or blind spots – times when we may use technology without considering the potential consequences or whether or not we are violating the rights of others (James, 2014, p. 40). Who hasn’t posted a picture of a friend without asking? Do we know the terms of service for all the online services we use? Our students are dealing with these same dilemmas. Teachers have inherited a new area of instruction in our fast-paced digital world. They now have to help prepare students to be ethical, safe and healthy users of technology.

Accessibility of technologies, being always on, social media and constantly changing technologies provide a steady stream of ethical dilemmas that are always right at our fingertips, noticed or not.

On a practical level, thoughtful, ethically sensitive identities can be cultivated when dialogue about moral and ethical issues is a regular part of a young person’s life–when frequent support and incentives exist for grappling with and debating dilemmas in light of different moral beliefs, values, and interests. (James, 2014, p. 113)

Ultimately, I want my students to grow into genuinely ethical people in their online and offline lives.

Being genuinely ethical requires much soul-searching, conversing with informed peers, a willingness to admit that one has been wrong, and striving to do better the next time. These steps are far more difficult to execute than a simple delineation of what is ethical and what is not. (Davis & Gardner, 2013, p. 172)

As a technology leader I am committed to starting this discussion with students and encouraging other educators to have similar discussions. We want what is best for our students with the understanding that media and technology is a part of their lives. Therefore, we must provide them with the necessary tools to develop the whole self in all areas of their lives, including their online lives. I look forward to a generation of mindful, deliberate moral and ethical young people.

For more of my thoughts on how to model and facilitate safe, healthy, legal and ethical uses of digital information and technology see:

My Mission and Vision as a Digital Education Leader

Teachers who Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Ethical Use

Individual Project: The Literary Essay as an Online Review

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Davis, K., & Gardner, H. (2013). The App Generation: How today’s youth navigate identity, intimacy and imagination in a digital world. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

International Society for Technology in Education, (ISTE; 2011) Standards for Coaches. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-coaches

James, C. (2014). Disconnected Youth, New Media, and the Ethics Gap. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.