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5 Great Resources to Teach Digital Citizenship

Resources to help your digital natives leave a positive digital footprint.

October 21, 2016
Leah Kurtz
Technology Training/Integration Specialist
Cobb County School District
Marietta, GA
CATEGORIES In the Classroom

Just as we teach our students how to do algebra, analyze historical documents, and write persuasive essays, we must also teach them how to be good digital citizens. Oftentimes, we assume that digital natives will already understand many of these concepts, when in reality, our students need guidance on leaving positive digital footprints that will not hinder them later in life.

Given that October is Digital Citizenship Month, it's the perfect opportunity to take some time to introduce these important lessons to your students. Check out these five resources to kick-start digital citizenship in your classroom!

BrainPop (grades K–12), BrainPop Jr. (grades K–2)

BrainPop is primarily a paid, online resource that teaches students through animated videos, learning games, interactive quizzes, and more. Within the paid version, BrainPop offers an extensive collection of resources on digital citizenship. However, BrainPop also offers some resources for free, including one on digital etiquette. Within this resource, BrainPop's animated characters Tim and Moby review digital etiquette concepts, including netiquette, flaming, trolls, and how to differentiate between communications with friends and communications with teachers and other adults. Educator resources are available so the content can quickly and easily be presented in class.

Common Sense Education (grades K-12)

Common Sense Education has long been a big name in digital citizenship. However, for those of you who are not aware of the scope of these resources, I wanted to include them. What makes Common Sense Education amazing is that they have full units that are specifically targeted toward different grades and include lesson plans for teachers, interactive simulations for students, assessments, and communications and activities for families. Lessons can be downloaded as PDFs, iBooks, and Nearpod lessons. Even those of us who are not quite as tech-savvy will be able to find something here!

Digizen (grades K–12)

Digizen is a branch of Childnet International and focuses mainly on social networking and cyberbullying. Within the Digizen site, content that is appropriate for teachers, students, and parents is offered. Social networking, including its benefits and risks, is explored in-depth, and a great deal of background information is provided for teachers as well as some activities to use with students. In Social Networking Detective, students are given a student named Chloe's "Friendbook" page. Based on the page, students are tasked with answering a variety of questions and determining mistakes Chloe made with her digital footprint. The ability to apply Digital Citizenship knowledge to real-world situations makes Digizen an especially valuable resource.

Oftentimes, we assume that digital natives will already understand many of these concepts, when in reality, our students need guidance leaving positive digital footprints.

EverFi Ignition (grades 6–9)

EverFi is an organization founded in 2008 primarily to provide free financial-literacy resources to schools. During the past five years, EverFi has branched out to include other courses, including STEM readiness, positive character development and social-emotional learning, and real-world application to basic computer science. Students work through a simulation of bringing a concert to their schools. Throughout the simulation, they learn about valuable concepts such as their digital footprints, internet safety, and cyberbullying. I love EverFi because it is an amazing, standards-based resource that provides simulation and choice-based learning with an easy-to-use teacher dashboard to track student progress.

lol…OMG! (grades 6-12 and university)

Matt Ivester, a technology entrepreneur and founder of the college gossip site, JuicyCampus.com, wrote the book lol… OMG! (2012). In this book, he utilizes real-life case studies to teach students about cleaning up an existing digital footprint and then beginning to maintain a positive digital footprint. Mary Beth Hertz, a technology instructor in Pennsylvania, wrote about utilizing Ivester's book to teach digital citizenship in an article for Edutopia. In her 1:1 school, students are issued laptops they may take home with them. However, ninth-graders do not receive their laptops until after they have worked through lol…OMG!, various current events articles on digital citizenship, a project, and class discussions.

Teaching our digital native students how to be safe on the digital playground is a process, and I hope that you have found at least one way that you can easily commit to recess duty!