The advent of social media has brought students face to face with new ethical challenges. Dr. Michael Searson, Executive Director of Kean University’s School for Global Education and Innovation, is concerned that educators are failing to properly equip young people for today’s digital culture. His latest project is working to address the urgent need for educational resources designed to promote the responsible use of social media in the classroom and beyond. Searson was recently awarded one of Facebook’s four inaugural Digital Citizenship Research Grants. The winners all demonstrate dedication to advancing global understanding of digital citizenship.
Dr. Michael Searson Awarded Facebook Grant
In August 2011, Facebook invited academic and non-profit institutions to apply for $200,000 in grants allotted to funding research that highlights trends associated with digital citizenship. Awards were granted based on an in-depth evaluation by a diverse team of Facebook employees—including in house researchers, safety and security professionals, parents—and the company’s Safety Advisory Board. Awards criteria included: global application, novelty of research topic and previous experience conducting world-class research. Dr. Searson was selected out of a pool of nearly 100 researchers from more than 10 countries.
Searson believes in classroom applications of social media. “We can use social media in powerful ways,” he says, “particularly in an international context.” Dr. Searson’s digital citizenship project will bring together a coalition of international scholars, researchers and practitioners to explore ethical dilemmas inherent to the new digital age. In his role at Kean and as President of the Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education (SITE), Searson works with educators across the globe. Dr. Searson’s research will be used to develop an “open source“ classroom course. Materials, assessment tools and individual course modules will be made available at no charge to the educational community.