This week, Mrs Rebecca Mace, Educational Research and Digital Character Lead at Cheltenham College, spoke to our Third Form pupils about the importance of online behaviour and digital risk. She is passionate about using digital education to empower and believes wholeheartedly in a strategy of “talk, don’t tell” when it comes to educating young people about being online.
“Young people at Cheltenham College clearly have the potential to change the world but on Tuesday morning they were reminded that they would not achieve anything of the sort simply watching it go by online. The Third Form were issued with a call to arms in the most recent part of the Digital Character program, one in which students are encouraged to think about their own role in moral and social behaviour in online settings. With previous generations making poor ethical decisions when it comes to online behaviour, be that in society, business, politics, or the economy, the Third Form were reminded that they are the ones who have the potential to ‘be the change’ going forward.
They were introduced to a simple A, B, C – Act, Be Curious, Create, a digital- social literacy if you will – to guide them in their approach to online behaviour. The focus was ethical values not platforms and pupils were encouraged to view their actions on social media as tied to ideas of consent and care, regardless of whether that is on TikTok or Instagram. Although social media and the online world may have set out to do amazing and world changing things, an awful lot of it does not even come close, and it was this that students were encouraged to reflect upon.
Tuesday morning was the time they were asked to start thinking about whether they were happy with the way the digital world works in relation to their personal moral code. They were also asked to consider whether they wanted to continue passively consuming content that was “suggested” on YouTube, and whether they were comfortable with the idea that their phones might know them better than they knew themselves.
As the morning was all about empowerment, students were given practical strategies about how to be effective upstanders as opposed to bystanders when it came to cyberbullying, online sexism and racism, or simply content they were not comfortable with. They were also encouraged to be proactive and create positive content rather than getting embroiled in spreading and re-sharing negativity. Finally, those on social media were asked to follow a wide range of people, not just those who were already like them, so that that they could be exposed to broader world views (and potentially confuse a few profiling algorithms in the process!). Essentially, they were encouraged to “be smarter than your phone”.
They were also asked to take the discussion home and to think about the ABC’s of the digital world with their parents and carers… so, you can look forward to that over half term!”
Mrs Rebecca Mace, Educational Research and Digital Character Lead