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Class 9: Digital Citizenship

December 5, 2020
Valibrarian

Valibrarian shared some of the ideas from her book on Metamodernism to the the class this week.

 

We visited the Community Virtual Library (CVL) in SL this week for a presentation by Dr Valerie Hill (aka Valibrarian), the director. Val has taught at all grade levels, served as a school librarian for twenty years and a college professor of information science. She suggests there is now a need for a new look at literacy: metaliteracy.

Alvin Toffler, writing in the late 20th century, coined the term prosumer when he noticed individuals were beginning to create and share content themselves: what we now call user-generated content. This has toppled the information hierarchy and we now have much more user-generated content than traditional formats such as books. YouTube has become the main source of information on the planet. As both consumers and producers of media we have become prosumers. One of Toffler’s well-known quotes relating to changing literacy is:

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.

This constant oscillation – swinging between production and consumption of media, and between physical and digital media, aligns to our philosophical moment which Val calls metamodernism, a term being widely adopted to describe our era. Acquiring knowledge in the past meant climbing the ladder toward final mastery. Not anymore! In metamodernism culture, we learn new tools and apps constantly while evaluating live information and adapting to new devices and software updates. There is no end to the incoming stream of information. Val’s book Metamodernism and Changing Literacy addresses the challenges we face due to these changes. It is imperative that we each understand our personal responsibility as digital citizens. A term that fits with this personal responsibility (at any age from child to adult) is metaliteracy. Mackey and Jacobsen (2014) coined the term to help us better understand how we can be literate in digital culture as prosumers. This is essential to digital citizenship. For more on this have a look at Metaliteracy and Metamodern Times.

We play many roles as a metaliterate individual, as both consumer and producer of content. The Internet connected everyone… giving a voice to all. Yet, not everyone has anything meaningful to add to the conversation! The Internet has become a flood of information that is impossible to navigate without metaliteracy. Once we understand with it means to be prosumers and participants in digital culture (unless you are a hermit isolated without Internet connectivity) we become aware of the need for digital citizenship. Yes, everyone has a voice online… but not everything shared is good, meaningful or even true. In fact, Mackey and Jacobson believe we live in a post-truth world.

While the many elements of digital citizenship are beyond the scope of this short talk Val suggests they cover ethical use of information, cybersecurity and safety, communication and even emotional intelligence. She suggests looking at the digital citizenship wheel at the DQ Institute website. CVL has built a digital citizenship museum in the virtual world of Kitely and has branches in other virtual worlds besides SL.

Val witnessed the close of the Gutenberg Parentheses (the period in which the printed word was the main source of information) as printed encyclopaedias or dictionaries became rarities. Many of us love the smell and physicality of books which are likely to remain available, but we also use ebooks, websites, databases, videos, podcasts, blogs, apps and more. Juggling all these tools – sometimes simultaneously – is actually changing the human brain. This juggling is a metaliteracy skill and part of digital citizenship. However, one can get carried away by the stream of social media into a self-absorbed whirlpool. Not only must we learn to juggle and choose the best digital tools… we must also juggle between worlds: physical, virtual, or augmented. Choosing the best space for a specific purpose (working, gaming, social interaction, learning) is also a metaliteracy skill. New platforms are emerging constantly with virtual reality headsets and 360 video becoming mainstream. Val is part of a team of educators researching these environments as it is impossible to explore them alone. A major goal for CVL is to bring together digital citizens to share best practices for becoming metaliterate digital citizens. CVL has tools to help accomplish that goal. For example, they are working on a virtual database, a network of ‘office hours in virtual environments’, and a virtual world education consortium.

The Information Revolution has changed literacy forever. We live in a fascinating, fast-paced time. Val has adopted the term metamodernism in discussion of our current philosophical era but there are other names being used: post-postmodernism, for example. She is presenting the topic here today in the metaverse, a place where metadata constructs a simulation of reality – we are inside a metaphor of our world. As you think about that you are using metacognition (thinking about thinking). About… about… about… meta… meta… meta! We have become metamodern and it is now time to become metaliterate.

In closing, Val hoped that we will all ponder our own responsibility for digital citizenship and think critically about our own changing literacy. Metaliteracy is simply a term to address literacy as prosumers. The Metaliteracy website describes it as follows:

Metaliteracy promotes critical thinking and collaboration in a digital age, providing a comprehensive framework to effectively participate in social media and online communities. It is a unified construct that supports the acquisition, production, and sharing of knowledge in collaborative online communities.

In response to Val’s presentation the students suggested that being accessible all the time and being expected to reply instantly to everything is overwhelming. The ‘show location’ tool is scary too. The death of privacy in the age of Google was also mentioned and the need to teach children from an early age so that they can navigate the worlds they are going to inhabit as they grow. Val suggested looking at the Common Sense website for more on this.

John, along with the students, thanked Val for her highly informative and fascinating talk. John also thanks Sitearm for coordinating the event.

Class listens to Valibrarian

The class listening attentively to Valibarian’s fascinating talk.

 

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