As educators and community leaders, we’re passionate about involvement.
We’re proactive at including everybody in creating a more connected, healthier and happier world, but we know that inequality still permeates our global community, across our world and our society.
So, what can we do? How can we leverage technology and our digital connections to break down the societal divides that exist? How can we bring opportunities close to people in our global communities?
Lucky for us, some of our favorite global digital citizenship enthusiasts have some ideas for us:
Proactive government and institutions
The 4th Annual DigCitSummit focused on how digital citizenship is everyone’s responsibility. The “From the Classroom to the Boardroom” theme was a reminder that digital citizenship isn’t just what students do in school, but what we all must at home and at work. This was reinforced by Joanne Sweeney, founder of the Digital Training Institute in Ireland, when she shared her work with governments, international political organizations, national health services, police forces, and media companies on “digital transformation.” This leads us to the recurring theme of proactive governments and institutions - our interviewees had some amazing things to say:
Tola Olayefun, the founder of Resources in Flow, provides much of the energy behind the digital citizenship movement in Africa, and organized the first DigCitSummit in Nigeria believes government intervention is a requirement for ensuring wider access to the web:
Echoing these thoughts, Maria Zabala Pino, a leading thinker in EdTech, a parent expert, and organizer behind DigCitSummit Spain shares:
Ben Cogswell, award winning educator from California and organizer of the upcoming DigCitSummit California added a suggestion for radical governmental action:
Concluding thoughts shared by Eugenia Tamez, a digital citizenship and educational technology consultant, and the organizer who brought the DigCitSummit to Mexico highlight the importance government and educational institutions play:
2. Changing the narrative
At the Digital Citizenship Institute we are committed to changing the narrative, so when our global community shared their thoughts with us on this topic, it immediately hit home of all of us!
David Pollard an educator from Ireland, the organizer for the DigSummit in Ireland, and a leader in helping people to build EdTech Start-Ups, and someone with a real passion for inclusion and accessibility in the digital world:
Maria: “At least in my country, accessibility and inclusion is still a minor topic. It’s so much easier, when speaking about people and their use of technology, to focus on dangers, mistakes and concerns about what happens in the general group of people who have an easy access to digital tools… There are strong initiatives working on enhancing access to people who don’t have it, but political-social agendas keep focusing on what to do avoid problems among people who already have the access. This should change, including both topics.”
Dr. Olurinola Oluwakemi (Kemi), an EdTech consultant in Nigeria who recently spoke at the DigCitSummit Cameroon last year and will be speaking at DigCitSummit Kenya in October shared:
3. Respect and positivity
A pattern emerged during this process - a pattern highlighting the importance of positivity and respect - no matter where you are or what language you may speak. These values transcend all boundaries for us. As our DigCitCommunity Mindset demonstrates, digital citizenship is about human connections on and offline - so we can see the inherent value in the human being we’re interacting with. This is what our DigCitCommunity had to say about it:
Eugenia: “Being empathetic, we need to understand the other person´s perspective, to make a change. Being kind, to create ripples of good, in the real and online world.”
Kemi: “Creating an environment that works for everyone, ensuring involvement of everyone in creating this environment. Defining goals on appropriate and ethical use of technology. Be an advocate, friend, protector, and let them know that we are in this together.”
Ben: “Just make sure that we do our best to stay positive. Reach out to people of difference, and respect others. Don't be a troll. Leave a positive presence in the place you visit.”
Maria: “Respect would be a number 1 behavior [change] for me. Only if we forget about prejudice and respect what others think can we really make a better society, digital or otherwise. We tend to have an opinion and make it final, but there are many issues and actions that could make us better. There are practical ways to improve access or to make the web more inclusive, but these practical initiatives would lead nowhere if we don’t understand that, once we all use technology, respect for the difference is key. Fighting crime or hate is a different issue, freedom of speech is yet to be wholly defined when it comes to having a voice online, but respect is fundamental and still quite scarce.”
So it’s simple: governmental action, proactive community leadership and acting with kindness and positivity will be the principles we need to make the web a more inclusive place.
Our challenges are significant. But so is our passion. And with a global community working together and supporting each, we know we can make a difference.
Now we turn to our global community to lend their thoughts, voices, and actions to the inclusive digital world we want to create. How will you take these action steps and put them into play? What can you take with you today and implement in your home, school, or community? Be the digital change you wish to see in the world!