Thursday, March 8, 2012

Technology: Students Rights and Responsibilities

Brad Flickinger posted an interesting proposal on "Educational Technology Bill of Rights for Students".  They are a fascinating assortment of rules that though directed towards high school education, I think have some implications and applications to community college.

They are listed as such with some qualifying language in following sentences on the website.
1) I have the right to use my own technology at school.

2) I have the right to access the school’s WiFi.

3) I have the right to submit digital artifacts that prove my understanding of a subject, regardless of whether or not my teacher knows what they are.

4) I have the right to cite Wikipedia as one of the sources that I use to research a subject.

5) I have the right to access social media at school.

6) I have the right to be taught by teachers who know how to manage the use technology in their classrooms.

7) I have the right to be taught by teachers who teach me and demand that I use 21st Century Skills.

8 ) I have the right to be accessed with technology.

9) I have the right to be protected from technology.

10) I have the right to be taught by teachers that know their trade. 

While some rules are not as relevant Right #9 applies more to cyberbullying; though might also speak to concerns of hacking/threats to student information by external sources while at school), others bring up important points that are worth thinking about in terms of student access and learning.  I'm not sure I can say that the language of "rights" entirely works but I do think these are worth considering for our faculty.  I lean away from "rights" in large part because there is a sense of universality when we talk about something as a right and much of the technology is still a privilege.  Therefore to get to do an assignment with what whatever digital artifact of Student A's choosing isn't necessarily fair if Student B does not have access or knowledge of said artifact-building tool. 

I know many faculty find fault with Right #4 and I think we'll see this continue to be an ongoing discussion within academia.  We certainly have challenges with democratized knowledge and are not sure of its place in society.  However, the single entry on the American Revolution (not including all the sublinks and extended sections) is over 11,000 words and has over 135 footnotes.  When you compile the full knowledge on the American Revolution present within Wikipedia--you have several books.  Even the term "Encyclopedia" in Wikipedia has over 5000 words and that's just the singular entry on the word--not all the extended sublinked sections.  It's hard to say that these aren't substantial sources. 

 Another challenge for faculty is Right #8 and what being accessed means within the classroom.  This is a problem I've mentioned before but also one that every college grapples with.  Educause has provided an interesting range of approaches  as well.

It comes down to this:  if students have rights, they must also have responsibilities with regards to their technologies.  But the rapid pace of technological change has kept us from finding a clear sense of what those responsibilities.  There are concerns --costly concerns when it comes to a student's education and their financial investment.  There is clearly a need for a reconsideration  of what is etiquette in this new dynamic.  Instructors are increasingly concerned and challenged by these issues.  
  • So what are reasonable expectations and responsibilities for students?  
  • How do we determine that as a community and develop those values in our students?
  • How do we encourage students to buy into these values to make our instruction and facilitation as well as their learning more effective and rewarding?  
  • If we are asking them to be responsible in their technological use, does that mean we should be meeting them in their technological needs and expectations?