Data Use, Technology, and Educational Leadership
There’s a story going around on the interwebs about a college student who cost her family $80,000 due to an unfortunate Facebook status update. Reports say that she attends Boston College, where I also happen to work. I don’t know the student. But really, couldn’t this have happened anywhere? Haven’t we all done “dumb” things? The more I think about this, the more I’m convinced that we haven’t done enough to elevate the issue of digital citizenship as a curricular and policy issue in schools.
My heart goes out to this student and her family. The tone of the story is that this moment of indiscretion is some sort of just deserts. The student should not have told the people awarding her father settlement monies to “SUCK IT.” Maybe so, but I keep going back to a moment in grad school where management professor Reuben McDaniel grilled me for an answer to a question I’ve continued to struggle with: Why do smart people do dumb things? If you can answer that question, then you have a leg up on figuring out how to prevent smart people from doing dumb things. And in some sense, that’s both the key to success as a leader and as an educator.
In this particular case, my thoughts run that we haven’t taught (or figured out how to teach) this thing we’re only now beginning to imagine called “digital citizenship.” My assumption is that this student associates in circles with certain norms around what is acceptable or unacceptable behavior online. That means it’s both a social issue and teaching issue. I put emphasis on both, because I’m wondering if the forces at play in digital citizenship are more like the ones at play in other areas of citizenship — like safe driving. After all, teaching people that drunk driving is bad too more than just a few talks at school. I assume that teaching people about texting and driving will take similar efforts; and that while we’re at it, we ought address managing digital identity.
As an aside, I’m now calling dibs on a new statistic right now: it’s the ratio of “photos it’s ok for your new boss to see” divided by the number of “photos featuring beer cans, silly faces, and other stuff you DON’T want your new boss to see.” I need help naming this thing, and maybe figuring out a way to normalize it, etc. Help is appreciated.