Digital Citizenship in Falmouth Public Schools
What is Digital Citizenship and why is it important?
Digital Citizenship is about the knowledge and skills needed to be a successful digital citizen. It is a foundational set of skills for a modern world on how to use digital tools safely and responsibly. Educators have always embraced their role of creating good citizens, but as schools expose students to more and more devices, it becomes necessary to also educate students on digital citizenship.
Digital Citizenship Vision
Technology provides many exciting opportunities for students to explore, connect and learn. However, if we desire to have students maximize technology’s potential, then we must assist them in navigating the challenges and managing the dilemmas that have become the reality in today’s digital environment. Therefore, Falmouth Public Schools is committed to empowering all students to become responsible digital citizens who know how to leverage the power of digital tools safely, effectively, ethically, and respectfully.
Falmouth Public Schools strongly believes that we are a ‘community’ committed to excellence. As such, we recognize that families have an important role in reinforcing digital citizenship lessons through conversations and expectations at home. Along with the lessons being taught at school, the district will be sharing additional resources from Common Sense Media designed to prepare families for the conversations they are encouraged to have with their children concerning the use of digital devices.
To ensure our students are prepared for their digital future, Falmouth Public Schools has adopted lessons from Common Sense Media’s Digital Citizenship Curriculum. Common Sense Media is a nationally recognized nonprofit organization that is “dedicated to empowering kids to thrive in a world of media and technology.”
In the fall of 2019, a Digital Citizenship curriculum was put into place for all students in grades K-8. It is anticipated that we will continue to identify ways in which to infuse these lessons into grades 9-12.
Common Sense Media provides a research-based curriculum that is designed to educate and guide young people to harness the power of the Internet and digital tools so they can become safe, responsible and respectful digital citizens. The basic message of the curriculum is one of empowerment and was developed in partnership with Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
The curriculum is based on the following six core themes:
- Media Balance and Well-Being
- Privacy and Security
- Digital Footprint and Identity
- Relationships and Communication
- Cyberbullying, Digital Drama, and Hate Speech
- News and Media Literacy
With Falmouth’s Digital Citizenship Curriculum, these core themes are revisited over grade levels. While students revisit topic areas, they do not simply repeat topics once taught, since Common-Sense Media’s program has been created to deepen knowledge and skills by building on previously learned information. age-level appropriate.
In the spring of 2020, Falmouth Public Schools became the first ever school district in Massachusetts to achieve Common Sense District Recognition. In doing so, the District demonstrated its commitment to taking a whole-community approach to preparing its students to think critically and use technology responsibly to learn, create, and participate, while preparing them for the perils that exist in the online realm, such as plagiarism, loss of privacy, and cyberbullying. With achieving this recognition, Falmouth Public Schools became one of fewer than 150 districts in the country to earn this honor.
Tech Driver’s Ed: A Driver’s License Program for Digital Citizens
Students, have you ever heard a cell phone ringing during one of your classes? Have you yourself experienced, or know of anyone else who has been “flamed” by others in a hurtful email or social media message? Do you always credit the source of your online research? Have you ever shared pictures of yourself online or sent them to your classmates?
In modern classrooms, there is an expectation that our students will learn with and through the use of digital tools. While students are expected to use this technology, they often misuse or abuse it without understanding what it actually means to be a responsible digital citizen.
According to Mike Ribble, an expert on the topic of digital citizenship, “Digital Citizenship can be defined as the norms of behavior with regard to technology use.” In other words, it is about understanding how to use technology safely and responsibly.
In life, people earn a license in order to show that they have met a specific ability level in terms of their skills and understanding of a particular topic or professional field. This is especially important when it comes to matters of health and safety. Just as you would need to obtain a driver’s license to safely operate a car, boat, or plane, Falmouth Public Schools believes that you should have a digital driver’s license to navigate digital technology safely and responsibly.
To assist the district in developing our Tech Driver’s Ed program, we have drawn on work from Digital Citizenship expert Mike Ribble and utilized content provided from Common Sense Media’s Digital Citizenship Curriculum to frame a user-friendly, self-paced course and assessment.
In order for a student to achieve a Digital Citizen Driver’s License, they must complete all of the sections and achieve a passing score with 70 points or higher on the end of course assessment, what we are referring to as your Digital Driver's License Road Test. All students who pass their DDL Road Test will receive a certificate via email within a week or two.
Additional Internet Safety and Digital Citizenship Resources
- Be Internet Awesome (Google)
- NetSmartz Kids
- PBS Kids: Webonauts
- Brain Pop: Digital Etiquette
- Online Safety Quiz
- Connect Safely
- Teaching Digital Citizenship
- E-Safety - A great short video for young children on internet safety and responsible use
- What Kids are (Really) Doing Online
- Teaching Privacy In the Internet Age (iKeepSafe)