Digital Citizenship

by Sue Kientz, GPAEA Instructional Technology Coach

Doc3I recently read a book by Lenny Schad called Bring Your Own Learning: Transform Instruction with Any Device.  This author states that his students needed three things to move into 21st Century learning with a mobile device:

  1. Mobility:  providing anytime, anywhere access to information via any device
  2. Web 2.0 tools: instructional resources accessible via the cloud, accommodating anytime, anywhere access
  3. Digital Citizenship: prepare students to function responsibly in a digital world.

One of the top three things needed by this author was digital citizenship training for his students and staff, not only while they are connected at school where the content is filtered but also for the other 16 hours of the day when they are not on a filtered Internet connection.  Many of our schools within Great Prairie AEA have already given their students devices so they have mobility.  Most of our schools are using Google Apps for Education so they have Web 2.0 tools that will allow cloud computing among many others that are available for free.  But when we look at the Bright Bytes technology survey data for GPAEA schools we have these statistics:

Doc1 71% of our teachers spend less than 3 hours a year teaching digital citizenship and yet 86% of our students have access to computers at home.  If we aren’t teaching them digital citizenship skills, where are they learning the skills needed to live responsibly in the information age?

Many teachers don’t feel they have the knowledge or ability to teach about Digital Citizenship.  AEA PD Online Learning ( has a wonderful free, self-paced course to help educators. The course can be taken for credit if desired but is not required.  Most of the school districts within GPAEA have access to this site.  You need to created an account at AEA PD Online and then you will need an access code to register for any of the courses offered there.  Districts that have paid a fee will have this code available to staff.  If you don’t know if your district has an access code, please contact your building administrator.

This course includes the following modules:

  • Digital Citizenship Introduction
  • Cyberbullying & Online Safety
  • Digital Literacy
  • Netiquette
  • Copyright & Fair Use
  • Digital Security

You will be introduced to the basics of Digital Citizenship and many resources to help you teach about this important topic.

If you have a basic understanding of digital citizenship but just don’t know how to start teaching your students about it, there are many wonderful resources available for free on the web.  Digital citizenship is not a skill set that should be taught in isolation.  Integrating these skills with lessons you already have your students doing is the perfect way to teach these concepts.  If your students are creating multimedia projects and using resources such as pictures and videos from the web, include a lesson about copyright and fair use.  If your students are posting to a blog or the stream in Google classroom, include a lesson about netiquette and / or cyberbullying.  Help your students to understand what is acceptable behavior and what is not.  If your students need to create an account for a Web 2.0 resource you wish to use in your classroom, include a lesson about digital security that includes using strong passwords.  Digital citizenship does not need to be “one more thing” added to the already loaded educational plate.  Incorporate this into the lessons you already have and use.

There are several free resources on the web to use to help teach digital citizenship.  One of my favorites has been created by Common Sense Media.  They have provided a Scope & Sequence (  for lessons for grades Kindergarten through 12.  The topics include:

  1. Internet Safety
  2. Privacy & Security
  3. Relationships & communication
  4. Cyberbullying
  5. Digital Footprint & Reputation
  6. Self-image & identity
  7. Information Literacy
  8. Creative Credit & Copyright

This resource divides the grades into K-2, 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12.  They have 15 – 20 lessons per grade range.  They could be taught 5 per year or al  in one grade level.   These lessons are intended to be led by a teacher through whole class instruction.

Common Sense Media also has a Digital Passport ( website to introduct students grades 3-5 to the issuses facing students in today’s digital world .  This website uses videos, games and collaborative classroom activities.  Educators are provided with free accounts where groups are set up to manage the activities the students will take part in through this website.  You can control what videos and games your students have access to and track progress.

Cable in the Classroom has also provided a website complete with lessons about digital citizenship at  This resource has materials available for teachers and students on seven different topics:  Communication & Collaboration, Digital Citizenship, Privacy, Media Literacy, Cyberbullying, Ethics/Copyright and Information Literacy.

Another resource to check out is provided by the Federal Trade Commission in partnership with many other federal agencies.  This website has been created not just for teachers and students but the general public as well.

Great Prairie AEA has also provided teachers and students with the CyberSmarts resource from Rosen Publishing to use with students.  The CyberSmarts books are intended for student grades 3-6 while the Teen CyberSmarts books are intended for grades 7-12.  These books require a username and password.  The username will be the 31 and then the name of your school (example:  31pekin).  If you do not know your school’s password please contact your Media Specialist, Technology Coordinator  or  These books have an interactive component to help keep your students engaged with the content.

If you need help learning about digital citizenship or in planning lessons for your students, you may contact the GPAEA Technology team:  Sue Kientz, Jane Trotter, Lisa Jacobs, or Seth Denney.

Works Cited

AEA PD Online Learning System. Web. 06 Nov. 2014. <>.

“CyberSmarts.” Rosen Learning Center. Web. 06 Nov. 2014 <>.

“Digital Passport” Common Sense Media. Web. 06 Nov. 2014. <>.

OnGuard Online. Web. 05 Nov. 2014. <>.

Schad, Lenny. Bring Your Own Learning: Transform Instruction with Any Device. Print.

“Scope & Sequence.” Common Sense Media. Web. 05 Nov. 2014. <>.

“21st Century Report: Great Prairie AEA.” Clarity 3.0. Web. 06 Nov. 2014. <>.

“Teaching Digital Citizenship.” InCtrl. Web. 06 Nov. 2014. <;.

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