TL;DR Version: A reflection from week three of the #walkmyworld project. I detail the concerns that are present as we construct and share online information. In this post I urge you to educate, empower, and advocate for others.
As we come to the end of the third week of this iteration of the #WALKMYWORLD project my thoughts have been on the literacy-based practices that we’re engaging in…and how can we make sure everyone is as safe as possible.
In this project we’re investigating literacy-based practices using digital texts and tools. In short, this means that we’re promoting the reading, writing, communicating, and socializing using the Internet and other communication technologies. The skills involved are detailed in the Mozilla Web Literacies that are being developed. We’re all openly creating, collaborating, and sharing content online. There is an inherent sense of risk involved in what we’re doing…especially in an educational context.
In this project we’re also engaging in creation of representations of our own identity using these digital texts and tools. People are opening up, they are challenging themselves to push past their own insecurities. Opening up and showing your “true” identity can be a scary concept. This is multiplied when we do this online to an unknown, and unseen “other.” There is inherent risk in this activity.
Finally, all of this activity is happening in the current context online where our governments and businesses are collecting and storing our data without informing or obtaining permission to do so. The subtle veil that we believed existed between the online and offline worlds is/was a fable that we told ourselves to get to sleep at night. As we engage in these activities there is the real and present danger that the tweets that we send, and the pictures that we share might be re-purposed at a later date. There is an inherent risk as we engage in these activities, especially as we urge brand new digital citizens out into the fold.
So why do it? Given the challenges that I’ve detailed, the question remains…why would I advocate for this type of expression and collaboration? I believe in, and educate others as to the power of literacy-based practices, especially using online tools. Throughout history, think about the power that has been involved in writing, reading, and publishing. This sense of empowerment is made more powerful thanks to the enticement of multimodal content, and the global conversation that occurs. I don’t want us to lose sense of the empowerment that we’re engaging in and the real value of this as we urge others to get involved. It is more than sending out a silly Vine, or the 17th Instagram selfie. It might seem insignificant, but you’re engaging in a global conversation. We should never forget the power that we have to read, write, and communicate freely, especially as others are left out of the conversation.
There is an element of empowerment, and a sense of consideration that we must employ as we share, and indoctrinate others into these digital cultures and literacy practices. I believe there is also a need to consider the long terms effects, even when we have no clue what they will be. I have to say that the constant barrage of news and leaks that has come out about online data and the stealing, spying, and snooping that has occurred keeps me up at night. Not because I have anything to hide ( …at least I don’t think so 🙂 ), but that I’m actively engaged in educating others how to thoughtfully read, write, and communicate online. The “WALKMYWORLD Project is the latest iteration of a career of educating and promoting digital tools to literacy practices. As I engage in this work, I feel the need to constantly urge individuals to consider the choices they make in public, and private…and the power involved. The truth is that these blog posts may reach others that I never have the opportunity to properly guide. I just want you all to be fully aware.
Despite the very real cause and concern that we have online, I still believe in the need to empower and urge others to join the global discussion. This is especially true for educators. You are guiding the future leaders of this world. You need to educate them as to the opportunities, challenges, and affordances of these digital texts and tools. Educators need to also create and curate their own online brand to be aware of “best practices” and challenges of this online space. As you do so, I want to once again promote a mindset that I wrote about in an earlier blog post.
I believe we need a more informed use of these literacies that are focused on three beliefs. I believe that we should educate, empower, and advocate for the safe and thoughtful use of these literacy practices in online spaces for all individuals.
Image CC by Ericana