Communicating and Collaborating: Being a Digital Citizen

by Beth Knittle on October 29, 2008

The following is just a brain dump as I try to develop some workshop material on Digital Citizenship and communicating. Just thought I would share.

Back in the day when I started teaching I used a ditto machine, occasionally a copy machine, phone and the US Postal service. There were no mobile phones, texting, email, discussion boards, internet, among others. Somehow we managed. Now there is a large number of ways we can communicate and connect, to some this is a boon to others a night mare.

Lets take a look at email. On the plus side, I can leave an email message for a parent regarding missing homework, I do not have to wait for the mail to deliver it or play phone tag. Email has aided me in setting up a phone call to discuss a sensitive issue again avoiding phone tag. I send messages to myself as a reminder. In my current position, I can quickly connect and some times troubleshoot a situation without having to drive to another school saving time and money. My communication with colleagues, family and friends has increased

On the negative side, my communication with colleagues, family and friends has increased. Communication is so easy people send a message about almost anything, forwarding every joke or funny picture along. Is that really communication? In my current role people no longer trouble shoot a situation. When I had trouble with the ditto machine I could not send a quick message to the AV guys, it could take days to connect. I tried to fix the problem or asked my neighbor for a hand. Now it is email and forget it. Because we can email anytime of day or night we should not expect people to reply anytime of day or night. This expectation of being connected, communicating and working all the time is a new phenomenon.

The tools came and somehow our etiquette and social skills went out the window. When I was in high school I remember my English teacher teaching us how to write a formal letter and a social letter. We even learned how to address it properly using sir, madam, Mr. Mrs. or Miss. We were learning, in modern terms, Social verses Professional Networking. We often complain about the inappropriate use of all these tools. Are we teaching our staff and our students these essential skills of communication? Do they know when to use each tool, what kind of language is appropriate for the audience and situation? Are we modeling good digital citizenship?

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

rae October 31, 2008 at 10:35 am

Dear Ma’am:
I’m a senior in high school in the United States and I am doing a project about technology use in other countries. I am trying learn about the types of technology that have had the greatest impact on our world as a whole, over the last 10 years, instead of just seeing how technology plays a role in the United States.
I am hoping that I will get responses from people all across the world.

If you could please allow/forward this survey below to teachers who would have their students take the survey I would be very grateful.

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=NFRd588OJF2moCrhh5CGog_3d_3d

Thank you for your time.

The Chinquapin School

Chinquapin.org

Pt November 8, 2008 at 8:50 pm

I still think we need to teach our students to write business letters. Recently I had to write a letter of complaint to a business and I emailed the letter to them. If I didn’t write it as a business letter, I don’t think they would have taken me seriously. Since they did, my problem was resolved. There are times that an email just won’t be satisfactory and a business letter will be necessary. We need to keep teaching some of these skills even though there is technology available.

Jim Beeghley November 9, 2008 at 10:08 am

Hi,

I agree that we have come to expect others to have the same response time to emails and e-communications as we set for ourselves. During my recent graduate work, I would expect my professors to respond to me quickly or at least have some standard, but alas they did not and this frustrated me.

And now with other microblogs (Twitter/Plurk) our English writing has been condensed to 140 characters or less.

Jim Beeghley
Teaching the Civil War with Technology
http://www.teachthecivilwar.com

SRoberts January 25, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Thank you, thank you! I am an educator who is dealing with the increased communication and unreasonable expectations of parents and administration. Sending and responding to emails after work hours is something that I wished people would understand is not a REQUIREMENT! In education, it is already a challenge to get parents to understand that teachers are not “on call” especially on their personal schedule so when an email is delivered to my inbox late at night I do not respond until the next day.
I also completely agree about the loss of the proper means of communication. Should we instead teach students how to write a proper text message or email? I believe we should.
Last year, I was teaching a remedial LA course at a local college and was appealed at a text message I received from a student, it was riddled with “text language” and was belligerent because he could not turn in an assignment 4 hours after the deadline. I had to remind him that I was not his “friend” and that the content of his text message was inappropriate towards his professor! While emails and text messages have allowed us to communicate easier it has worsen the state of communicating effectively and appropriately.

Danielle F. April 8, 2015 at 7:54 pm

Hi,

I agree, proper communication skills including letter writing should still continue to be taught to this generation. They live in a time where some of them have not and will not ever write a letter as a form of communication on their own. Although technology is a great thing and when used the right way is quite efficient, it has in some ways created an” out of sight out of mind” attitude towards communication and human interaction.

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