We often hear the phrase “we are living in a digital world” and my children are coming home from school talking about becoming good “digital citizens”, but up until this point in my life I have avoided the digital community.
That’s not to say that I don’t send emails and have a Facebook account that I never use. I love the ability to access journal articles online and to keep up to date with the research in my field without ever having to leave my desk. I have even embraced the learning ability of YouTube to help me with some tricky cello rhythms, or a new crochet stitch that I am not familiar with.
However, while I have been the occasional consumer of these helpful online tidbits, I have never truly participated. I have not shared any of my own thoughts or helpful comments to those searching for answers online. I have never truly engaged as a “digital citizen”.
I justified this of course as the need to maintain my privacy, that no one would want to read what I would post anyway, and that I did not want to be judged by unseen others. My question was whether this type of technology was really appropriate to use in an academic setting, and not just something you dabble in for personal consumption.
These ideas were challenged during a week –long intensive institute at MacEwan University called Teaching with Technology. While I had originally envisioned this week-long workshop as advising me on how best to use PowerPoint in my classroom, or the new advances in classroom polling technology, there was also serious discussion on what our roles as professors in post-secondary institutions really are in modeling digital citizenship.
This was something that I had never even pondered before. Social media is personal not professional, right? The idea that this was something that I should be doing for my work, and that it might possibly be something that is expected in role modelling professional behavior, was something that I had not expected.
So now begins a new adventure full of possibilities and new responsibilities, an adventure that I embark on with some degree of trepidation, but with the hopefulness of any new explorer that there is joy in the journey.