Jeff Brain on Using Comics and Digital Storytelling to Teach Digital Citizenship

February 26, 2014
Kelly Mendoza Director of Professional Development
Common Sense Education

CATEGORIES Digital Citizenship

“With great power comes great responsibility!" This popular Spider-Man quote can be used as a mantra when teaching digital citizenship, and comics and digital storytelling are a great vehicle to help students understand this concept.

This week, Common Sense Media hosted a fantastic webinar with Jeff Brain, a superstar teacher at Del Mar Middle School in Tiburon, California, and Instructor at San Francisco State University’s Department of Instructional Technologies. The webinar, “Using Comics and Digital Storytelling to Teach Digital Citizenship,” was hosted on our Digital Citizenship Community on EdWeb, a free community where you can access lively webinars, discussion forums and lots of resources. You can join here:

In the webinar, Jeff shared a 5-week digital citizenship program he created called WHAM: Where Heroes are Made. In this program, students learn digital literacy and citizenship through combining comics and digital storytelling. In the first 1-2 weeks of the program, students research news stories about technology, explore characteristics of superheroes, and learn about digital story arc. In weeks 3-4 students design their digital superheroes, determine their superhero’s characteristics and origin story, and mission, working in groups to provide collaborative feedback. Students transform pictures of themselves into superheroes using Adobe Photoshop Elements—so they’re really embodying and personifying their digital superhero. Jeff provides students with tutorial videos on the tools they’re using, like Adobe Photoshop Elements and Comic Life 3. In week five, students design a digital comic by combining their superhero’s origin stories and mission, and include digital citizenship tips at the end. The best part? The program meets Common Core and ISTE Standards.​

  • Digital Citizenship & Literacy
  • Current Events (Social Studies, Science Common Core)
  • Interactive Storytelling (English Language Arts Common Core)
  • Digital Media (Visual and Performing Arts)
  • Roleplaying (Game and Project Design)

Student Sample: Origin Story of "OMG"

With 320 attendees nationwide and around the globe—including Greece, Serbia, Croatia, Panama, Argentina, Canada, and Australia— there was lively discussion with people sharing ideas, tools, and teaching tips related to digital citizenship, comics, and storytelling.

If you missed the live presentation, you can access it in the EdWeb Digital Citizenship community. Watch the recording and take the quiz in order to receive a CE certificate!

We hope you’re as inspired as we are about connections with comics and digital storytelling with digital citizenship…and beyond. Share your ideas below!