“Cyber” is outdated and problematic when discussing moral culpability

I facilitated a “Cyberbullying” seminar for the Teacher Action Cohorts (TAC) of The Manitoba Teachers’ Society last week. It’s the first seminar that I’ve taken the lead on, and the “case of the nerves” have subsided somewhat. It’s one thing to engage students, but entirely another creature when realizing one is in the same room with professional colleagues. I’m grateful to my fellow TAC presenters for their assist.

I approached the presentation as an open dialogue. As a personal preference in any seminar that I attend, I like to be acknowledged as a participant, and not talked “to”.  I have a hard time not questioning anybody in a position of authority (perceived or real)… but that’s just me. That being said, I hoped the participants learned something from the information presented, and from the great dialogues that occurred.

I’ve had a few days to think about the content of the presentation, as I received a lot of great input from the participants. Three things I must change are:

  1. The term “Cyberbullying”. Bullying is bullying, anything based on use of electronic hardware and/or use of Web 2.0 should acknowledge digital devices/sites as just tools. I perceive the use of the term “Cyberbullying” issues a false perception as both a single-cause problem, and as a corollary, that a panacea is somehow available to teachers that would magically “cure” the issue.
  2. State the above fact at the beginning of the presentation. It is 2013, technology is here to stay, and educators have a moral responsibility to provide the best information possible as part of a responsible “in loco parentis” that our profession subscribes to.
  3. Continue to add sites that are available for educators to learn about and implement the emerging technologies available to Web 2.0. Speak the language of the digital native, and help create solutions.

I know you meant well Mr. Belsey, by coining a term for the use of digital applications in the social influences of group dynamics. However, I believe a single term is problematic due to reason #1 mentioned beforehand.

It’s my perception that the issue runs deep down to our anthropological roots. People have always wanted to be part of a group dynamic, they just have to be taught what is acceptable according to their respective societal norms. Including the proper acceptance and use of technology in a western culture, circa 2013. Those who are teaching, should be prepared.


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