Digital Citizenship in Schools

Digital citizenship is becoming more and more integrated into school curriculums. As educators are becoming more familiar with technology and social media and how it impacts learners, we are seeing some really great programs being developed by ISTE, Google, Common Sense Media, ASCD and many more!

If citizenship was the rationale for the founding of schools, digital citizenship can be seen as the evolution of this, and can broadly be defined by appropriate and responsible use of technology. ISTE and Common Sense Media have broken up digital citizenship into strands and topics:

Common Sense Media
Digital access
Internet Safety
Digital etiquette
Privacy & Security
Digital law
Relationships & Communication
Digital communication
Cyberbullying & Digital Drama
Digital literacy
Digital Footprint & Reputation
Digital commerce
Self-Image & Identity
Digital rights and responsibilities
Information Literacy
Digital safety and security
Creative Credit & Copyright
Digital health and wellness

Recent news events have further emphasized the need for digital literacy, identifying ‘fake news’ is an essential skill in an ever more connected world.

So where are schools at?

Nearly all schools are now implementing some form of DC curriculum. Some schools have it embedded into curriculum whilst other schools are just beginning to explore the opportunities. With massive growth in 1:1 devices in schools (Chromebooks, iPads, laptops, smartphones) there is a need for a continuous discussion around digital citizenship.

A growing number of schools are hosting programs designed for students, educators and parents. Through parent sessions the message of digital citizenship is reinforced and further shared with learners. Some schools are working with governments organisations, industry and NGOs to create innovative programs to promote DC – some even have students work on creating e-commerce startups as a culminating project!

Where to start?

A great way for a school to begin is by having a Digital Citizenship Week. A number of lessons during this week are themed around DC, and excellent resource to share with educators is Common Sense Media’s curriculum. With lessons designed as pdf’s, for Nearpod and iBooks, all grades are covered K-12. Teachers can use the prepared lessons or customize them to localize them for different countries/cultures.

Given the breadth of DC content, it’s really rewarding to explore from a professional growth perspective. And therein lies the relevance to Google’s very own certifications – Google Certified Educator Levels 1&2. Throughout the review material there are references to security and privacy. Level 1 features the following topics:

  • How to protect yourself with good, strong passwords 
  • How to recognize hoaxes 
  • What makes up your digital footprint 
  • How to manage your online identity 
  • The importance of privacy settings 
  • How to build resilience to be able to handle challenges 

Gaining recognition

To gain recognition for digital citizenship efforts within schools, Common Sense Media offers its own Digital Citizenship Certified Educator and Digital Citizenship Certified School. Following a successful implementation of digital citizenship curriculum educators are able to apply to this program and receive recognition in terms of digital badges and posters that can be displayed.

A world of resources

The following is a short list of relevant resources (and there are loads more great resources out there – please share more in the comments):

Digital Literacy and Citizenship Curriculum for K-12: Common Sense’s collection of resources including ready-made lesson plans – great place to start

ISTE – Essential Elements of Digital Citizenship – ISTE’s elements are driven from the ISTE standards requirements for digital citizenship, focussing on the safe, legal and ethical use of technology.

Digizen – a website that can be shared with educators and learners alike, lots of games, videos and resources covering social media through to cyberbullying.

Growing Up Digital – report from Children’s Commissioner for England published Jan 2017, further highlighting the rationale for digital citizenship education in schools

Screenagers – movie diving into the impacts of a digital age on children

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