In our last ECI 831 class we spent time considering whether online social activism can be meaningful and worthwhile and whether educators have a responsibility to model active digital citizenship.
Photo Credit: Elijah van der Glessen
Examples of effective online social activism include campaigns like #blacklivesmatter and #idlenomore. I believe these social movements have been effective because they began as regional awareness campaigns that grew to become both national and international in reach and demanded the attention of millions of people and decision-makers worldwide.
These movements prompted people to act locally and provided ways for multiple localities to take action. They weren’t click-happy campaigns that hoped would raise awareness and through that awareness change the world.
I agree with a comment made by Colleen in her recent blog post. She says, “I think that instead of or in addition to hashtagging we need to make an effort to see how we can actively make a difference. This may be in the form of making a donation, but I also think we need to GO LOCAL and reach out to others in our Photo Credit: Wikipedia community who are are working to make a difference to make positive changes in our community.”
I think one of the most important aspects of activism, social media or otherwise, is the involvement and establishment of relationships with the community you wish to be part of the people you hope to advocate for/alongside. This idea is supported by a couple articles that I reviewed.
In The Case for Social Media and Hashtag Activism, social media activism is described as being “useless if it doesn’t create awareness that leads to action off the internet.” And, in How Effective is Social Media Activism, they discuss “[t]he only way to make a democracy work is to get off social media and do things in the real world.” Social media activism must have local actions associated with the online engagement.
What is our responsibility as educators to model active citizenship online?
In the article, Ethics in Online Activism: False Senses of Social Action or Effective Source of Change, by Rimah Jaber describes an ethical position on social media activism. They suggest that, “Online activism and social media campaigns ought to have serving the common good at the forefront of movements. Provoking change of a social issue should be done within reason and without personal or private gains. The focus of online activism should be moral and ethical, operating under systems of social action that are pure and noble.”
As justice oriented citizens, who exist within and outside of schools, have a responsibility to use our platforms and voices to bring attention to social injustices and work towards equality. This work is important and is actually part of our curriculum. Educators need to address their fears by pushing the boundaries and taking some risks in speaking out in their classrooms, communities, schools, and divisions to make space for positive social change.
If educators taught their students with a pedagogy of critical (digital) literacy and critical empathy they might find a new found confidence to speak to social justice issues with more authority. They might also find opportunities and rationale to do so with the support of the four goals of K-12 Social Studies and Social Sciences education of the Saskatchewan curriculum. Here, I believe educators can have a voice and take a position in their classrooms and online. Life your values – it is who you are!
I would like to challenge my ECI 831 classmates, and anyone else who is interested to risk your privilege by:
- choosing an issue they care about;
- finding a campaign that deals with the issue and engages the public through social media;
- using your voice to tweet something (#eci831 @SalloumSteffany), anything, in solidarity with the people/issue;
- writing a comment to me about what it was like for you and consider sharing your experience with your classroom or administrator.
Thanks for reading!