Teaching in a Digital World: Digital issues and the nature of schooling the digital age
Cyber bullying can happen to anyone, of any gender, at any age, however, is most prevalent amongst adolescents. As cited by Woolfolk and Margetts (2013, p. 147), the use of digital technologies is the most common way for teens to communicate with their friends and hence there are more opportunities for bullying to occur online. As a teacher in the digital age, it is imperative to be aware of the risks associated with online, student-centred learning (Churchill, 2016, p. 61) as well as to have as much transparency on student online learning as possible (Churchill, 2016, p. 310).
Figure 1. Poster raising awareness of cyber-bullying (created in Piktochart)
There are seven forms of cyber bullying which have been identified by Woolfolk and Margetts (2013, p. 149). These forms include: flaming, harassment, denigration, impersonation, trickery and outing, exclusion and cyber stalking. There has been no link to gender based on the likely hood of a student being bullied however there is a link that females are more likely to be harassed or excluded and males are more likely to be the recipient of flaming and impersonation (Woolfolk & Margetts, 2013, p. 148). The Australian Government (https://esafety.gov.au/esafety-information/esafety-issues/cyberbullying) defines cyber bullying as “the intent to hurt them (students) socially, psychologically or even physically” and hence it is the teachers’ duty of care to ensure that the content and learning platforms are monitored. Howell (2014) highlights that all school students starting from a young age should be educated to be “careful, critical learners of technology.”
The Australian Curriculum Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Capability learning continuum (n.d.) captures a student’s digital knowledge and development over their schooling years in the key areas such as the application of digital information security practices (p. 1), generate solutions to challenges and learning area tasks (p. 3), collaborate, share and exchange (p. 3) and understand ICT systems (p. 4). Facebook, for example may be used within a classroom to share and exchange information between teachers, students and parents (Brenton, 2016). A classroom activity that could be used to raise digital information and personal security is outlines by Behind the News (2012). The activity includes students creating a class contract and further development (if it currently exists) of the schools anti-cyber bullying policy. This is aimed at encouraging and educating students in the safe way to use their ICT capabilities within their school as well as throughout their use of digital technologies. In addition to classroom learning of cyber-bullying, students are also able to discuss with independent counsellors which are available at most schools or through the use of free services such as Kids Helpline.
Figure 2. Kids Helpline (2016)
Teachers awareness of cyber-bullying and the impact it may have on their students lives such as social acceptance and learning issues for students, independent of their gender is a key aspect in teaching in the digital age (White, 2013). As well as the teachers ensuring students are aware of the digital issues such as cyber-bullying, it is important that students look out for themselves in becoming aware of other potential issues related to online.