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One life or Two…..?

February 8, 2011
In the February, 2011 edition of Educational Leadership,  Jason Ohler shares his thoughts on the interesting topic of character education in a digital age. As many of you know, here in Saline we are looking at appropriate ways to incorporate digital devices and resources into our instruction.  Basically, moving from the current “two lives” model to a “one life” model.

Mr. Ohler notes,
Our challenge is to find ways to teach our children how to navigate the rapidly moving digital present, consciously and reflectively. How we meet this challenge depends on how we address the following fundamental question about teaching our digital-age children: Should we teach our children as though they have two lives, or one?

The “two lives” perspective says that our students should live a traditional, digitally unplugged life at school and a second, digitally infused life outside school. It says that the digital technology that kids use quite naturally is too expensive, problematic, or distracting to use effectively and responsibly at school. It says that issues concerning the personal, social, and environmental effects of a technological lifestyle are not important in a school curriculum, and that kids will have to puzzle through issues of cybersafety, technological responsibility, and digital citizenship without the help of teachers or the education system.

In contrast, the “one life” perspective says the opposite, that it is precisely our job as educators to help students live one, integrated life, by inviting them to not only use their technology at school, but also talk about it within the greater context of community and society.

In developing a comprehensive approach to the “one life” philosophy, the issue of character education plays a key role.  Below are some of ideas expressed by Mr. Ohler in his article:

Balance. Understanding past, present, and possible future effects of technology. Cultivating a sense of balance that considers opportunity as well as responsibility, empowerment as well as caution, personal fulfillment as well as community and global well-being.
Safety and security. Understanding how online actions might lead to harm to yourself or others. Includes protecting your own privacy, respecting that of others, and recognizing inappropriate online communications and sites (such as sexual material and other resources intended for adults).
Cyberbullying. Understanding the potentially devastating effects of cyberbullying and how it violates ethical principles of personal integrity, compassion, and responsible behavior.
Sexting. Understanding the negative consequences of using a cell phone to take and transmit pictures of a sexual nature of oneself or others.
Copyright and plagiarism. Respecting others’ intellectual property rights and reflecting on the legality and ethics of using online materials without permission (a complex and murky area of the law, bounded by “fair use” guidelines).

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Matt Needham permalink
    February 17, 2011 5:24 pm

    Has Saline considered a mentoring program regarding technology? I think there a lot of parents who are not able to teach their children about technology as well as they would like to simply because of the generational gap. There are many high school students who know what it is like to be young in the digital world and would be able to better convey the one-life model to younger students.

    The problem is: what to do with the many high school students who could use a better understanding of the one-life model?

  2. February 18, 2011 12:58 pm

    We have not looked at a technology mentoring program, but that is a very interesting idea. Many of the issues we see with students making poor choices with the use of technology occur in the Middle School when they are just beginning to experience some freedom with technology. A mentor program with High School students could be an excellent strategy to address this issue.

  3. February 19, 2011 1:12 pm


    I got a note from one of our tech staff that noted we have started a mentoring program –

    In December we partnered with Washtenaw Area Council for Children to run a Cybersafety workshop that included: safety, bullying, online predators & privacy and sexting. Every student participated in the presentation. The follow-up to that presentation will be to work with a 7th grade cyber team and train them to be train-the-trainers to our incoming 6th graders. It’s actually in the works and probably will run late spring.

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