Digital Literacies – What Does #StopKONY Mean For Our Students

You’ve probably heard about the viral campaign to stop Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda. The video has been watched approximately 40 million times since it’s release on Monday. If not it’s here:


This swept through our school today, all the pupils were talking about it, most had watched it. That’s 11-16 year olds watching a 30 minute documentary about an African war criminal in their own time. Quite unique!

I’m sure that getting celebrity tweeters such as Rihanna on board will have had a lot to do with the viral success of this with young people. It’s a fascinating insight into the power of social media, and celebrity to influence the hearts and minds of our young learners.

Something of a backlash has been taking place online today against the group behind the project, their accounts have been scrutinised and their methods criticised. 

The guardian has a nice summary, and also an interesting video with London schoolchildren.

Ethan Zuckerman has a long but well reasoned think piece about the whole affair.

As I left school, I’d not seen the video and wasn’t quite sure of the whole story. But the pupils were already talking about taking action. 

It’s taken me a couple of hours to digest many sides of the story, and argument. I’m still unsure as to whether we should encourage our students to show their voice for this cause, or caution them away from it.

I doubt our learners are spending so much time looking at this from all angles. This is a crucial digital literacy skill, and a golden opportunity for us all to engage with students about casting a skilled critical eye over everything they read, watch or hear.

One thing is clear, it’s a brave new connected world and we have significant challenges ahead of us to equip our students with the skills they’ll need to flourish in it. It’s also a world with the tools to do great good, our students can all have a louder voice than we ever imagined.

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