Friday, 6 March 2015

Online Abuse... I Blame the Politicians

In today's post I abandon all sense of digital citizenship and leave all the good advice that my friends at #Cmgrhangout have taught me and I'm gonna let rip!

Not only that but I'm gonna let rip on a group that are complaining about how they feel unloved and abused online.

However... There is method in the madness! The reason I am going to stir things up is for the same reason that Digg did with their with AACS cease and desist demands.. To stand by the community I have the utmost respect for: Our educators.

I've already discussed my views on how I feel politicians have handled the issue of abuse in my previous post.

Today I'm going to discuss how policy makers have mis-handled social media in education to argue that it is our politicians who have allowed this problem they are complaining about (and blaming others for) to thrive.

My opening argument is how and where are people supposed to acquire an aptitude for social media... If they are not taught it?

In the US there has been significant investment with initiatives like Connected Educator Month and the Future Ready agenda, there is also a bi-weekly #DigCit Twitter chat.

I've highlighted both the difference between the UK and US on this issue and I've tried to get UK policy makers involved too

Has the Scottish or UK government done as much as the US government has to promote digital citizenship?

Since my last post 2 weeks ago I thought I would explore the situation further by sourcing as many school Twitter accounts that I could... I thought this would only take a few days but 2 weeks later I'm still looking into it. But it's interesting to compare the results so far... particularly the difference between private education and state education.

NB The 521 State accts include all Secondary Schools, still compiling results from other schools

I need to go through these accounts to confirm all the accounts are official school accounts and factor in any dormant accounts but, if these stats are confirmed then we need to ask...

  • Why is State Education so far behind the Private Sector? 
  • Who or what is to blame for the difference here? 
  • What are the consequences?

Can anyone think of a school that does not teach reading and English, but still expects students to be proficient readers? No, of course not! That would be ridiculous!

And yet, this is what our politicians are asking of our young people with digital literacy... To be proficient in Social Media without any training, advice or guidance.

If digital literacy doesn't factor in the classroom then it's unlikely to be taught in many homes. Among the reasons it's not taught at home is because parents either "don't get it" and/or have less knowledge about it than their kids do.

I wonder how many of the political trolls that Ms Curran complains of are privately educated? If the answer is "Very Few" maybe it's because they are taught more digital citizenship in school and in their affluent homes, maybe as a result of having professional parents who use social media in their jobs, or because they have all the latest gadgets that help make them more technologically proficient.

So why might digital literacy not more of a factor (whether formally or informally) in class... Well now that would be the fault of our mis-guided, self-interested MPs who someone decided to put in charge of education, wouldn't it?

Not only was social media not valued or explored in the early days... it was actively blocked for years. 

This frustrated the heck out of the tech savvy, early adopters and innovators. When social media was unblocked the early adopters were frustrated with all the policies and restrictions.

Throw in some budget cuts, austerity and we have mass redundancies meaning that educators have to do more with less. 

These cuts badly affect morale so, not only is there less time to explore new ideas, there can also be a "Why should I" attitude when their employers treat this committed group in this way?

So Ms Curran finds that her and her colleagues policy and culture of "Do absolutely nothing about Social Media for a few years" but then has the cheek to grumble, groan and blame other people when it's 


Oh it makes me angry! So angry that I feel the need to type in bold block capitals!

But that's not all... Not only do these MPs do nothing about this, they then take to social media and say "Great to visit XYZ school today... so I could fill my quota of photo opps to keep me in the press and make myself feel important"

Don't believe me? Go and search some of these Scottish schools that are NOT on Twitter and see if an MP's name comes up.

While visiting these schools I wonder how many MPs encouraged schools to get online and/or gave a talk to the students about the importance of digital citizenship? 

Maybe they gave a talk like the fantastic speech that Brian Rosenberg gave to his students?  
Macalester College Commencement Speech 2011 with a strong #DigCit message
No? Oh well, that was a missed #DigCit opportunity wasn't it?

So there's my case for why the abuse that our politicians are complaining of today is actually their own fault?

I've argued that their short sight attitude of banning social media in education (or not providing sufficient support or guidance for schools led SMT to block the forums), along with fostering the wrong kind of culture with educators has limited early adopters from exploring new ideas to help create the problems that they complain of today.

In the event that this is the case then maybe there is some poetic justice in the fact that they are feeling uncomfortable today. 

And even if these ideas are a pile of nonsense it's certainly true that,

1)  The NEET figures are a concern

2) Morale is low because of austerity and budget cuts

3) There has been a lack of investment in providing guidance on social media that digital citizenship

So all in all, in my opinion (as well as every educator, student and friend I have), our politicians have massively let down our young people and educators.

Future posts will detail ideas on how to quickly and effectively improve digital citizenship, the connected educator agenda in Scottish Education... Once I've finished my social media analysis. 

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