At EPIK Deliberate Digital, we look for opportunities to spotlight people who are deliberately involving youth in creating a culture that fosters positive digital citizenship. We were thrilled to interview Marialice B.F.X. Curran, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Digital Citizenship Institute, about her son, Curran, and about a new organization called DigCitKids. Watch for a guest post from Curran, coming soon!
Have you ever asked your child how he or she would like to learn? This is a question Curran, a 10-year-old digital citizenship enthusiast, poses.
Seeking ways for your children to be excited about learning can be tricky. Meet Marialice, who seems to have found a way to her son’s heart as she listens to what he wants and allows him to collaborate with the world.
Marialice and her 10-year-old son are a digital citizenship team. Together they start conversations all over the world about digital access and student voice. It all started when he was in first grade.
The Tweet Seen Around the World
A few years ago, Marialice sent out a tweet to show her undergraduate students the power of social media. Within 24 hours, comments started pouring in from all over the world. Her, then 7-year-old, son got curious. He’d ask, “Where’s Istanbul?” Excited by his question, she pulled out a world map, and he would mark and tally every single response. This led to a fantastic day, full of authentic learning.
As a result, he immediately wanted to create his own blog to keep learning about the world. His first blog post shows how excited he was to learn about the world, it’s titled, “Where in the world are you?” He got over 100 responses! You better believe he looked up every location and replied to each one.
One of the benefits technology has given us is an opportunity for our children to more easily have truly authentic learning experiences. The amount of information at our fingertips is incalculable. How fulfilling to watch your child devour new information as it is shared with him over the world wide web.
A Digital, Authentic Learning Experience
Fast forward a few months and he got an assignment from school that sparked another digital adventure. He had to pick an animal for a research project, so he took to his blog and twitter to get ideas. He researched every single response he got. After discovering many new animals, he finally settled on the Binturong from Southeast Asia for his school project. Without the internet he probably would not have had this great experience — connecting with people around the world and being totally engaged in learning about new animals he would, otherwise, never have discovered. You can read more about that here.
He’s lucky he has a mom who helps fuel this activity, yet the other kids in his class did not have the same authentic learning experience. Not all kids have the access at home or the knowledge of how to do it. Often, kids get bogged down by the drill and kill of worksheets. How cool would it have been if the entire classroom had gone online to connect and engage with others to expand their learning, as well?
This mother/son team is chomping at the bit to get digital citizenship into schools all over the world. Curran is quite an accomplished 10-year-old with a passion for digital citizenship while still going to school and playing hockey.
If you want us to learn about the world, we have to learn with the world
It doesn’t stop there, he recently gave a TedTalk about these experiences titled, “If you want us to learn about the world, we have to learn with the world.” One thought-provoking question he posed afterward was, “Why does everybody wait to talk to kids until they’re in high school?” Which has led him to his newest project.
His motivation stems from wanting to get connected learning opportunities in his school to a desire for more younger voices to be heard.
What’s his newest project? A business called DigCitKids. It’s Digital Citizenship for students by students. He has monthly challenges, he blogs, he tweets, and he’s labeling any worthy stories he hears “DigCitKids Approved!”
Curran states, “I started DigCitKids because we need more student voice in digital citizenship. We need kids talking about digital citizenship and student voice, not just adults. Kids have a lot to say and our voices need to be heard.”
He wants people to know Digital Citizenship is not simply a topic for an assembly, but it’s something we do. It needs to be an action. This should be happening in classrooms everywhere. He also wants to help parents so they can be part of that learning process at home.
Curran’s main goal is to amplify student voice. His agenda is to get digital access at all schools everywhere.
But, just having digital access isn’t enough. It’s the conversations that go with it about the positive power of social media as a learning tool. How are we using social media to learn about the world with the world? How are we using social media to solve problems within our community? Whether that’s our school community, our neighborhood, our local, our state, our global community or our digital community.
“Let’s amplify the positive,” says Marialice. They are using this opportunity to talk about what to encourage online, instead of what to avoid.
We need to be deliberate parents, teachers, and community. We can work together with our kids to get connected online, get connected in school, and create these authentic learning experiences.
It’s time to ask your child, “How do you like to learn?”
Dr. Marialice B.F.X. Curran is the founder and CEO of the Digital Citizenship Institute. As a mother and a connected educator who has served as an associate professor, middle school teacher, principal and library media specialist. As a pioneer in digital citizenship, she developed and created the first 3-credit digital citizenship course for teachers in the country. She co-founded the digital citizenship chat in Twitter (2011) and the Digital Citizenship Summit (2015). She is a researcher, keynote and TEDxYouth speaker who is passionate about student voice and student leaders. As a mother and son digital citizenship team, the dynamic duo model best practices while working with parents, educators and students.
Connect with Marialice and Curran on Twitter: @mbfxc @CurranCentral @digcitinstitute @digcitkids