April 25, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Resources for Teaching Digital Citizenship | Tech Tidbits

As we continue to move forward into this age of explosive technology use, educators and families must find ways to teach children how to use their phones, tablets, and computers ethically, responsibly, and wisely. Our anxiety increases with every case of cyberbullying or identify theft reported on the evening news. How do adults, many of whom struggle to keep up with each new tech innovation, teach students the skills they urgently need to use technology for good and not ill?

First, we need to be proactive and educate ourselves. Help is available for educators who want to strengthen their own knowledge about Internet safety. Google has a wonderful, free, self-paced digital citizenship and safety course for educators, as part of their MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) offerings for teachers. After educators complete the modules, they are guided through security checkpoint tips to protect their own online personality and Google accounts. Teachers can earn Google’s Digital Citizenship & Safety Community Educator recognition badge.

The next step is to take advantage of the wealth of existing curriculum, engaging activities, and games that will not only increase our students’ understanding of digital citizenship but will also be entertaining and fun. There are some fantastic resources that will work perfectly. Common Sense has a digital citizenship curriculum with a huge set of resources for K–12 grade. These include lesson plans, videos, interactive games, and assessments. Common Sense even offers some excellent teacher training materials as well as family education resources.

Educators have also been using HyperDocs to create wonderfully crafted digital lesson plans that are visually engaging, often self-paced, and excellent tools for digital citizenship lessons. (See more information about HyperDocs on Joyce Valenza’s “NeverEnding Search” blog). Teachers have been sharing awesome HyperDocs on the free Teachers Give Teachers site, where, after a simple log-in, a variety of free plans are available. There are several HyperDoc digital citizenship lessons available, along with many other wonderful activities created by genius teachers just like you.

There is a new exciting set of incredible materials from partnerships among Google, iKeepSafe, Family Online Safety Institute, and Connect Safely, which educates students about digital citizenship in interactive ways. They have worked with ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) to develop several components. An extensive digital citizenship game called Be Internet Awesome adeptly teaches students to “Be Internet Smart, Alert, Strong, Kind, and Brave.” There are free downloadable lesson plans and curriculum for teachers and resources for parents that incorporate the ISTE Standards for Students. The site even offers supplemental resources, like badges, posters, Google Classroom support, and Chrome management consoles for the geeks among us. The site offers easy links to additional resources from site collaborators Google, iKeepSafe, Family Online Safety Institute, and Connect Safely. Here you can find topics such as digital parenting, cleaning your digital footprint, cybersecurity, identity theft, parents’ guides to cyberbullying, and more.

And if that isn’t enough, Nearpod offers a digital ditizenship curriculum for younger students, PBS has the Webonauts Internet Academy, and  Netsmartz.org has long offered excellent resources helping keep students safe online.

Whatever you choose, Internet safety and digital citizenship are vital components of living in our technology-heavy world. All our students will benefit from strategic and thoughtful instruction on how to become effective and ethical consumers and producers of information. In other words, they will become great digital citizens.






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Phil Goerner About Phil Goerner

Phil Goerner is the teacher librarian and tech innovator at Silver Creek High School in Longmont, CO. He can be found on Twitter @pgoerner. Phil is also an adjunct professor with University of Colorado at Denver in the School Library and Instructional Leadership program.

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