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You're in Charge

We want students to frame the system, not game the system.

We want students to frame the system, not game the system.


To help students frame the system, I do an activity with them called “You’re in Charge.” Begin by watching a short video about the You're In Charge activities.

If I could change one thing about how we approach digital citizenship in schools, if I could wave my hand and change something big, it would be this: adults have to stop making all the Internet rules for students.


That’s counterintuitive for most. It sounds like I am saying adults aren't good rule makers. And of course, there are age considerations about when and how to involve students in rule making. But what I am saying is that when we make all the rules, and when we don’t involve students in rule making, we rob our students of the opportunities they need and deserve to develop their ethical muscles, to see the bigger picture, to apply their understanding of the bigger picture to themselves and the digital lifestyles that they live. And when we don’t ask them to help frame the system, they game the system.


What happens?


When I engage students in this activity, an amazing thing happens: They go from gaming the system to framing the system. They become very conservative very quickly when they’re on the other side of the policy table. I watch them step into a broader, more adult part of their minds. And just think what would happen if they made the rules? If they broke them they would be breaking their rules, not ours.


Involving them in rule making has very practical value. It helps develop real skills they will need as emerging technologies create new behaviors and new ethical grey areas that must be navigated. The reality is that you can't go anywhere virtually, you can't do anything digitally or technologically, without encountering tremendous ethical implications. We all need to be prepared to deal with this reality.


Turning downside into upside


It might seem like the ethical dimensions of living a digital lifestyle produces a lot of downside. But the other way to look at this is that never before have there been so many opportunities to help students develop their ethical selves. This is only an opportunity, however, if we take advantage of it. If we don’t, then it is all downside. So, let’s use this opportunity to our advantage and our students’ advantage. Let’s ask them to help frame the system. 

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