The Need for Digital Literacy

A woman whose email was hacked finds her private mail posted on a blog. A man finds his picture on a blog calling him a homosexual and HIV Positive. A girl being called a whore or a cheap on Facebook by people she does not know from Adam and Eve. A child talking to a person on Facebook or on chat who is not her relative nor anyone he or she knows. Revenge porn posted on the web. Losing control of your email and social media accounts. Religious or State Police patrolling the web looking for dissent and immoral acts. Bloggers jailed in Africa and Bloggers killed by the cartel in Mexico.

The Internet and cyberspace is not a safe place for the innocent wearing rose-colored glasses and the digital illiterate. There is a need to provide a learning space for those who surf the web through gadgets of their choice. Information Technology or IT subject alone is not enough. Learning about how to connect to the web and use it is not enough. Especially when life, limb, reputation and property of an individual is on the line when one gets connected to the Internet.

Recently Senator Nancy Binay filed a bill calling for the inclusion of cyberethics in the general curriculum. Representative Terry Ridon has also filed a similar bill. While I agree that there is a need to include cyberethics in the curriculum, I believe that cyberethics be taught as a stand alone subject. Like Internet Freedom it does not stand in a vacuum.

What is needed is a subject of Digital Studies : The Citizen, The Country and the Internet

To better prepare an individual for the Internet one must go beyond the technology and its uses. One has to learn the impact and consequences of using the Internet. One has to know the history of the Internet: the forces that has, had and had been shaping it. One must be aware of the issues, problems and challenges in and out of the Internet. One must know the story of the people on the Internet and the people not yet on the Internet.

Education is to prepare one for life and clearly we need to prepare for the digital world of the Internet. The effective approach would not be to tackle cyberthics alone nor Internet Freedom and Digital Rights alone. Both needs to be taught alongside other topics related to Internet and Cyberspace, something distinct from Information Technology, something that can be called Digital Studies and below is a proposed course outline for something I call Digital Studies :

Digital Studies : The Citizen, The Country and the Internet

The Internet and the World Wide Web
Technology: Gadget and Internet Access
Cybersecurity 1 – Safeguarding your Personal Safety On-Line
Social Technology
Social Media – Sharing Online
Social Media and Digital Activism
Cybersecurity 2 – Safeguarding your Personal Safety in Social Media Channels
Searching and Cloud Computing
Study on Online Ethics, Conduct and Rights
Web Safety
E- Learning
E – Commerce and the Online Consumer
Digital Work and Professions
Cybersecurity 3 – Company, Organization and the State
The Internet – Potential and Challenges
You, Our Country and the Internet

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