The educational paradigm is shifting. Our world wide web of super connectivity enhances our ability to communicate and share knowledge and be a part of learning communities that extend beyond the classroom and school. Piaget, Vygotsky and Bruner, the giants of educational psychology in the last century, all recognised the importance of social interaction in learning. In social media networks, we now possess the tools to allow children to gain personal knowledge and understanding whilst developing skills in collaboration and communication. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has provided us with a dizzying array of tools which enable children to achieve learning objectives, not because of what they have been told but because of what they have discovered from all manner of sources: internet, books (amazingly!), parents, teachers and their peers (most importantly). Yet it is how we harness these tools, use them and critically interrogate their value that lies at the heart of the debate and the use of social media and ICT, particularly in schools.
To effectively harness these tools, the term “Digital Citizens” has evolved from its origin as the critical appraisal of the reliability of information and internet safety, to include developing children’s skills in working together in the real world and the development of effective connections with other individuals. We are becoming more focused on the ability to communicate as we place more emphasis on the values that we share as communities, be they real or virtual. The presence of digital technology and social media networks in our lives creates a purpose that ensures we maintain a strong focus on the skills in the use of language, the building of rapport and collaborating with others that has been, and always will be, so central to a person’s satisfaction and success in life either personally or professionally.