Digital Natives need the Rauru Whakarare framework

Nov 28, 2022

The internet is a vast and dangerous place for children to navigate on their own. This is why digital citizenship, cyber safety, digital fluency skills and online etiquette need to be firmly in place in your curriculum.How can we help them to navigate the world wide web safely? Let’s take a look at the Rauru Whakarare framework and how it can help to shine light on finding appropriate online sources, identifying biased content and stopping students from getting lost down online rabbit holes.


1.  Whakapapa - the background

Does the website have a padlock icon on the url (in the address bar)? Why was the website created? What was it created for? How relevant is it to our context in Aotearoa? How did it come to be online? 

These kinds of questions are ideally located alongside rich learning experiences where ākonga can publish professional looking content (Sway, Google sites, Thinglink, Wordpress) so that they understand that content online doesn’t ‘just exist’ - it comes from somewhere, there are real people behind it and we need to think about how, where and why it is online. Thinking about the whakapapa of a source helps us to evaluate its usefulness and reliability. 


2. Orokohanga - the origin

Where did the site originate? When was it published? Is this content current and timely? Is this a back-dated online newspaper or is it today’s news? Is it a repost of old content? Orokohanga as an evaluative lens helps us to think about the time/date and place (also identified in the whakapapa as the binding element of all sources) as a critical context. Aligning the website to its publishing date helps us to figure out whether or not it is valuable or current for research purposes. And if it is not relevant or current, we need to keep searching. 


3. Mana - the authority

This is pertinent and timely given that recent changes in Twitter management allow twitter users to buy authentication. How credible is the source? What kind of following do they have? What credentials do they have? Has this been peer-reviewed? How much has it been reshared? Is this paid content? Considering mana means we can apply a critical lens to the creator - Why should this view be trusted? What agenda might the publisher have? Is the source written with appropriate language without errors? Is the content accurate and reliable? These questions could be used as prompts for engaging activities with ākonga. Exploring bias by writing a deliberately biased article, exploring grammar and spelling and writing conventions by sharing deliberate errors for others to fix and generally having active discussions about the importance of being research informed, peer-reviewed and accurate when publishing research content online. 


4. Māramatanga - the content

Understanding the research question clearly will help ākonga to be able to apply Māramatanga to their online research. Does it shed light (marama) on the question? Is it relevant to the research question? How might it contribute to wider understanding of the topic? Is the source ‘a good fit’ in terms of the information it provides? Māramatanga considers the appropriateness of the information for the research purpose, the audience of the end product, and the project’s context. It should add value and connect to a deeper understanding. Is this website useful for my research? Just because an online source has passed the orokohanga, whakapapa and mana ‘tests’ does not necessarily mean that the information will be a good fit for purpose.


5. Aronga - the lens

Discussion of aronga is a great way to teach the differences between objective and subjective representation. It also allows us to actively teach bias, critically look at the author’s agenda and consider the publishing biases of different organisations or sites. Aronga represents the lens we use when looking at online sources. It also allows us to reconsider the content’s mana by thinking about its whakapapa and orokohanga. Aronga connects to “perspective” and helps ākonga to see ‘through’ the information to identify a creator’s bias. Exploring fake news, unpacking mockumentaries and making fake news are all fun activities to embed understanding of deliberate biases that can be applied behind the scenes. When ākonga understand how easy it can be to mislead and create deliberate bias in their writing/publishing, they will be able to apply a critical lens on online content with more understanding.  


How will you help your ākonga to navigate online sources more safely? Just because they are ‘digital natives’ does not mean that they come equipped with the right critical skills. It is up to us to guide them and help them not to ‘fall’ for everything they see online. The Rauru Whakarare framework is a great first step in starting the conversation.


For more useful digital citizenship resources and lessons check out

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