Nov 16

Continuing the Conversation of Digital Citizenship Week

This year, I had the privilege of delivering not one, not two, but THREE talks at Longwood University’s Digital Citizenship Week. The first was about leadership in the digital age, which followed the next day with a luncheon where I covered Digital Reputation, and my last talk focused on being a chick in cyberspace. Getting to explore the campus and be a part of Digital Citizenship Week was definitely a highlight of my fall semester!

First thing’s first: Longwood University’s Digital Citizenship Week stands out as a one-of-a-kind program. I don’t know many of any other institutions doing a digital citizenship week, let alone investing so many resources to such an event. It’s a significant cornerstone program for Longwood, and it shows. Longwood’s commitment to building better digital citizens was clear from the moment I stepped on campus and interacted with the team putting on Digital Citizenship Week.

Digital Citizenship Week wasn’t just an on-campus event. The Digital Education Collaborative posted a “To Share or Not to Share” quiz on Buzzfeed to inform Longwood students about their peers’ digital reputation. Students were presented with images posted by actual Longwood University students on social media, then were prompted to vote on whether they would post it to their personal timeline or not. Interestingly, the quiz takers could then see how many of their fellow students agreed with them. I was impressed to see Longwood using an unexpected platform to further their digital citizenship efforts. Note to self: start brainstorming ways to harness the power of Buzzfeed for my next research project!

The content of the quiz was just as impressive as its innovative platform use. It really made you think about your values, what you’d be willing to stand for, and the potential challenges you’d have if others disagreed with you. Posting on social media is not as simple as selfies or cute cat and dog pictures. It’s also a place where you can take a stand with a photo, a status, or even a “like.” When we want to take a stand on issue, we have to own it 110% and be prepared for whatever may come after. That’s one of the most important parts of being a digital citizen: taking the time to consider the impact of what you’re posting. Major credit to the DEC’s student staff for creating a quiz that reminds us of that.

Ultimately, one of the best things about my time at Longwood University was just how many people came and were truly engaged. My favorite moments are when students come up to me after. Many started by saying they came with low expectations or were afraid they were going to be talked down to about social media. Instead, they said they left empowered and energized to enhance and power up their digital presence through the lens of leadership. It’s obvious to me that Longwood is dedicated to empowering their students to be responsible digital citizens, and I am so thrilled that I got to be a part of it!

I’d love to continue the conversation that started this Digital Citizenship Week. When I’m not on the Longwood University campus, you can always find me on Twitter and Instagram @JosieAhlquist. If you’re interested in learning more about digital citizenship and digital leadership, be sure to check out my blog and my podcast. Reach out; I’d love to hear from you!

This post was authored, in its entirety, by Dr. Josie Ahlquist.

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