US K-12 students aren’t getting adequate instruction in “cyberethics, cybersafety, and cybersecurity,” according to a just-released study sponsored by the National Cybersecurity Alliance and Microsoft released today. The survey, of more than 1,000 teachers, 400 administrators, and 200 tech coordinators, found that – although over 90% of administrators, teachers, and tech coordinators support teaching these topics in school – only 35% of teachers and just over half of school administrators say the topics are required in their curriculum. A bit of pass-the-buck thinking turned up in the results too – 72% of teachers said parents bear most of the responsibility for teaching these topics while 51% of administrators said teachers do.
Check out my quotes later in this article – I was thrilled to be interviewed by Ann Collier, one of my heroes in the effort to address Internet safety and ethics in a sane manner. We had a long conversation about digital citizenship and what it means. To me, citizenship is a verb, an act of participation in a community. To be a citizen means more than being told rules, it means having the rights and responsibilities of membership. So it’s simple. If we want students to be “21st century citizens” or “digital citizens” or ANY kind of citizen, we have to give them responsibility and include them in the actions of the community. This, of course, should be guided, gradual, and mentored, but it should not just be telling them the rules of a game they aren’t allowed to play.
Otherwise, it’s digital dictatorship, not digital citizenship.