Teaching Digital Citizenship with Technology Tools

Students begin using technology well before they start school, meaning they walk into our classrooms with a variety of tech use habits – some good, some bad. As technology use becomes more and more central to our students’ lives, how can we as teachers help students recognize their rights and responsibilities when it comes to healthy and safe technology use?

As it turns out, there are numerous ways we can help students of all ages grow into prosperous, thoughtful digital citizens! Come discover how during this 1-hour webinar, where we’ll explore a handful of free resources for helping students sharpen their media awareness and online privacy.

Illinois educators who attend live can earn 1.0 PD credit.

AA #3779 Digital Citizenship in Action ROE 28

In this course, leaders will learn about the history and current state of digital citizenship education. Leaders will then critically evaluate the explicit, implicit, and null curriculum around digital citizenship in their schools. Throughout the course, participants will dive deep into each of the six competencies of a digital citizen by growing in their own competency knowledge, examining resources to bring into their schools, and considering how each competency can be further supported. Leaders will finish the course by developing an action plan to improve digital citizenship education that addresses immediate, short-term, and long-term goals.

Share What Works in Digital Literacy @ #DigLitCon

Mark your calendars! The LTC-hosted Digital Literacy Conference is returning this fall, offering teachers, administrators, technology coaches, and library media specialists a focused opportunity to discover what works in teaching digital literacy.

Right now, we’re searching for educators like you with proven experience teaching digital citizenship, media literacy, digital ethics, and more. Consider submitting a proposal and joining this year’s team of standout presenters!

Digital Literacy Conference 2022 FAQ

What is DigLitCon?

Digital Literacy Conference was created to meet the needs of Illinois’ K-12 teachers, administrators, tech coaches, and library media specialists as they strive to utilize effective digital literacy strategies and resources.

Now in its second year, DigLitCon continues to offer a unique opportunity for digital literacy stakeholders to gather together and discover new tools, instructional practices, and connections. Last year, over 150 participants from Illinois and abroad walked away with the skills and knowledge needed to foster a new generation of productive, ethical, and empathetic digital citizens.

Who Can Submit a Proposal?

All K-12 educators, tech coaches, and library media specialists with experience teaching digital literacy concepts are encouraged to submit a proposal for DigLitCon. Those selected will have an opportunity to lead a 50-minute virtual session on September 16, 2022.

What Topics will be Covered at DigLitCon?

“Digital literacy” is a broad concept, made up of numerous individual competencies that empower an individual to skillfully engage with digital spaces. That’s why this year, prospective speakers are encouraged to submit presentation proposals that fall under one or more of the following strands:

  • Information & News Literacy
  • Computer Literacy
  • Visual Literacy
  • Media Literacy
  • Ethical Uses of Digital Resources
  • Digital Communications
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Digital Tattoos & Online Privacy

Full descriptions for each strand can be found on the DigLitCon homepage.

Submit a Session Proposal Today!

If you’re passionate about digital literacy, DigLitCon wants to hear from you. Submit a proposal today so that your peers across Illinois have the opportunity to learn from your perspectives on this evolving field.

Digital Safety for Littles

By age eight, 90% of children have experience with the internet. As such, digital safety training must begin early. Using videos, music, children’s books, games and more, this session will explore practical resources for password protection, digital footprints, oversharing, social media, internet etiquette, and cyber-bullying for K-4 teachers.

After attending this session, attendees will return to their schools with eight, 30-minute digital safety lessons that are age-appropriate for today’s youngest learners. Each complete lesson includes a combination of digital and analogue resources including games, videos, children’s books and assessments suitable for both in-class or remote learning.

Responsible Decision Making: Digital Citizenship and Online Safety

Join us to learn how digital citizenship and online safety play a role in the school ecosystem. In particular, we’ll focus in how educators can help create and maintain positive online experiences for all learners. This session will also demonstrate examples of how digital citizenship and online safety can be integrated into classrooms to create positive life long habits for all students.

Google’s Be Internet Awesome: Helping Kids Become Safe, Confident Digital Explorers

Google believes that all students should have an opportunity to meaningfully engage with technical skills of the future, because students today need basic digital literacy skills to be successful in any career, in any field.

In 2017, Google launched Be Internet Awesome, a free program designed to provide the resources to help educators teach students about digital safety and citizenship. Join Google for Education Program Manager Anne Nash to learn more about Be Internet Awesome and how you can bring this content to your classrooms, students, and families – including through their Pear Deck-enabled BIA interactive lessons!

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: Digital Citizenship Resources for Connected Kids

Digital Citizenship Week begins October 18th. Are you ready to participate in this annual recommitment to fostering digitally-competent students? Join Nicole Zumpano as she shares a variety of resources crowdsourced by the LTC’s team of Instructional Technology Coaches to help you integrate this important topic into your classrooms. You’re sure to walk away with ideas that can be implemented during this important awareness week and beyond.

5 Things Students Should Do to Stay Safe and Secure Online

Safer Internet Day image

Note: This article was originally published by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) on February 5, 2021. It has been republished here with their permission, and the permission of the author. You can read the original here.

Today is Safer Internet Day, an occasion to recommit to best practices for protecting digital identity. In the spirit of this important celebration, we’re proud to feature an article by the LTC’s Nicole Zumpano, originally published by ISTE. Each of its timely resources and recommendation will help you make digital literacy and internet safety a cornerstone of your classroom year-round.


As adults, we do everything possible to keep our computers, bank accounts and families safe. Our list of to-dos continues to grow as our use of digital technologies increases. While these tasks are rote to most adults, we can’t expect that our students will follow our lead.  

It is our responsibility as educators to make sure learners know how to do more than surf the web and consume media. All educators — from classroom teachers to technology coaches and school administrators — should lead the discussion on digital literacy. Here are some ways to make sure our students stay safe and secure online:

Teach students to conduct data mines (on themselves)

Students should do this every 3-6 months. While many will Google their names, we need to teach them to dig deeper. Here are some general guidelines to follow:

  • Log out of internet browsers before searching (staying logged in can affect the results).
  • Search (using quotation marks) full legal names, nicknames and usernames.
  • Search Google Images with names/usernames.
  • Use multiple browsers, such as Chrome, Bing, Yahoo, Safari and Firefox.
  • Look beyond the first page of results. Go at least five pages deep until the name/username no longer appears. Take note of what kind of results appear (presentations/social media/images/etc.).

Here’s an exercise I give to graduate students, but it can easily be replicated for high school students.

Check privacy settings on social media accounts

Because many sites may be blocked during school hours, allow students to check privacy settings on those that are not. At a minimum, show students how to access privacy settings (perhaps through a screencast or screenshot). On each social media site, students should:

  • Check privacy settings to see who can view posts.
  • Go through “friends” lists and remove people who should not be there.
  • Search posts and remove any that they wouldn’t want a parent, teacher, employer or college official to see.
  • Look at tagged images that others have posted.  

Watch the video below to seen how Katrina Traylor Rice taught students about digital privacy while teaching a unit on the Bill of Rights.

Teach digital literacies

Digital literacy is a term that has many moving parts. Students need guidance on varying types of literacy, including media (how to “read” media), social (how to interact in an online environment), and information (the ability to locate, evaluate and properly use information).

Safety falls into this category as well. Students need to know, understand and apply password algorithms as well as recognize scams and understand how their data is being tracked and used by companies.

Stress the importance of digital maintenance

This is the spelling list or cursive practice of the digital world. It’s not glamorous to teach but essential for students to know:

  • Teach students how to download Google Drive files to an external drive.
  • Remind them to backup Drive files, important emails, smartphone photos/apps/etc. at least once a month.
  • Make sure parents have access to account passwords in the event of emergencies. Have them write the accounts/passwords on a piece of paper and place it in an envelope in a safe yet visible place.
  • Reiterate the importance of logging out of accounts, not simply closing the browser window.

Start early

Teaching digital responsibility is not just for middle school teachers or library media specialists. It’s everyone’s duty, and we must start with kindergartners. Consider developing a digital media scope-and-sequence to address what should be taught at each grade.

This is something that can be developed by teachers, students and parents alike. At a minimum, make a commitment with grade-level colleagues that you’ll help teach students how to be safe and secure digital citizens. A good place to begin is by reviewing the ISTE Standards for Students.

Being alert — being aware of online actions, and knowing how to be safe and create safe spaces for others online — is one of the five competencies of the #DigCitCommit campaign. Watch the video below to learn how you can get involved in the movement.

Building on Digital Citizenship Week 2020

Digital Citizenship Week 2020 (October 19-23) has come and passed, but that doesn’t mean your students have missed out on an opportunity to grow their 21st century skillset. Many leading EdTech companies and organizations offer resources and tools for year-round digital citizenship education.

If you’re still looking for ways to include digital citizenship essentials in your class’ curriculum, be sure to check out the following resources and tools while drawing up your lesson plans.

What is Digital Citizenship?

In essence, “digital citizenship” is a collection of thoughts and actions that promote positive, honest, and critical discussions among digital community members. Often, digital citizenship takes the form of adaptable routines that allow an individual to safely and securely navigate digital content – both in and out of the classroom.

Without a doubt, digital citizenship is important for students to learn year-round. Even a lesson or two on the core principles of digital citizenship can help students implement it in their daily lives. Building awareness for these principles starts in the classroom, though, which is why educators across the spectrum should consider utilizing the following digital citizenship tools and resources.

Resources for Year-Round Digital Citizenship

Be Internet Awesome

Be Internet Awesome is a recent Google-led initiative to empower students to make educated decisions online.

This initiative’s curricular materials focus on teaching students both the knowledge and practical skills needed to be smart, alert, strong, kind, and brave online. Each lesson has also been designed to stand on its own. As a result, educators who want to make the most of their classroom time can drop a lesson into their pre-existing curriculum.

Google has also produced a high-quality, interactive adventure – Interland – that students of numerous grade levels can enjoy. Each Be Internet Awesome curriculum lesson is capped with an Interland experience, so students will be able to immediately put what they’ve learned into practice.

Common Sense Education

Common Sense Education has recognized an ongoing need to build flexible, contemporary skillsets for navigating the open internet. That’s why they’ve created a variety of curricular resources for grades 5-18 – each of which include age-appropriate activities that will help students take ownership of their digital lives.

Common Sense Education’s digital citizenship content is also designed with simplified incorporation in mind. That’s why they’ve also put out this useful Implementation Guide for free. In it, you’ll find planning guides, case studies, and classroom posters that can help your department form a unified approach to teaching digital citizenship.

New for 2020

This year, Common Sense Education again added to their Digital Citizenship Week catalogue of free resources. In particular, their Digital Citizenship Week 2020 collection includes new ways to engage grade, middle, and high school students. This includes short and long lessons centered around open-ended questions, such as “how am I being a digital citizen today?” and “how can I think critically about the things I see, create, and share?”

All of these new resources can be implemented efficiently, as well. Each set of lessons comes with a customizable planning calendar and student activity sheets that align with each lesson’s goals.

Tools for Supporting Digital Citizenship

Securly Auditor

One key aspect of digital citizenship revolves around the prevention and elimination of cyberbullying, as well as other negative online behavior patterns. While that can take some practice over time, Securly’s Auditor engine can support an educator’s efforts to spot violence and graphic content in student-related communications before they become a problem.

At the same time, Auditor can help identify at-risk students early on. In particular, Auditor’s interface allows educators to continuously scan emails, attachments, and documents – all within Google Suite. Any tagged material is then brought immediately to an admin’s attention via a responsive alert system.

Impero Back:drop

Impero’s back:drop is another well-regarded digital classroom management platform that digital citizenship-focused educators should take note of. This free-forever platform is FERPA-, COPPA-, and HIPAA- compliant, making it ideal for use in schools where student data security is a top priority.

Purchasing Opportunities through ILTPP

Several of the companies mentioned above – including Impero and Securly – are vendor partners of the Illinois Learning Technology Purchase Program (ILTPP). ILTPP is an LTC cooperative program that aggregates buying power and expertise to procure technology products and services for educational institutions across the state.

Through ILTPP, your school or district may be able to obtain a discount when purchasing several of the digital citizenship-building resources and tools outlined above. Check out their website to learn more about ILTPP’s current purchasing opportunities.

The LTC also provides additional support and resources for educators who are looking to enhance their curricular offerings. Be sure to check our website often for new online courses, PD opportunities, and more.

Digital Citizenship Resources for Every Classroom

Digital Citzenship Image

What is Digital Citizenship?

Digital Citizenship is more than just teaching students how to be safe online. Good digital citizens know how to use technology to foster better online communities with both local and global relationships. They can identify the validity of information and use technology to communicate responsibly and respectfully, even with individuals who don’t share their views. Good digital citizens use technology in a positive way to share ideas and participate both locally and globally.   

Why is Digital Citizenship Important?

Data (2019) from Cyberbullying Research Center shows that 37% of students – more than 1 of every 3 – have experienced some form of unwanted harassment or mistreatment with technology. This represents an increase of 35% over studies from 2016. Research done by the Pew Research Center suggests this number may be much higher among teens, perhaps up to 59% of this age group has been affected. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those affected by bullying have increased risk of depression, anxiety, academic problems, and a number of other factors that lead to decreased quality of life.

According to the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), teaching digital citizenship can “help create thoughtful, empathetic digital citizens who can wrestle with the important ethical questions at the intersection of technology and humanity.” Helping our students develop into good citizens, digital or otherwise, empowers our communities to become more positive places in the future. 

Digital Citizenship Teaching Resources

A number of resources are available to support educators and parents as they work together to improve students’ digital citizenship skills.  

  • Common Sense Education has developed a free, comprehensive digital citizenship curriculum for all grade levels.  Resources include both online and offline activities, and parent engagement ideas are also available. Make sure you check out LTC’s webinar discussing these resources!
  • Google’s Be Internet Awesome curriculum is also free and is supported by a series of fun and challenging interactive games called Interland.  
  • Edutopia has curated an extensive listing of resources that can be used by educators and community groups to support digital citizenship. 
  • ISTE had developed a variety of resources supporting digital citizenship in schools, including classroom resources, professional publications, and an online course on teaching digital citizenship.

Closing

Teaching digital citizenship has never been more important to building a positive, collaborative, and safe online community. In addition to the resources noted above, follow the hashtags #DigCit and #DigCitCommit on social media to stay up-to-date on the latest developments and trends in digital citizenship instruction. 


Bibliography

Today’s students have access to more information than ever before. Many students enter the data-rich world with few skills to manage the myriad of opportunities and pitfalls they might encounter. This is when the concept of Digital Citizenship becomes relevant and evermore important.