Sunday, July 4, 2010

Digital Citizenship Curriculum - Navigating Digital Literacy Education

Common Sense Media is a non-profit online education advocacy group based out of San Francisco. They have recently developed a digital literacy curriculum to help teachers and educators navigate through, and make sense of, the new challenges they face in dealing with the first generation of "digital natives". And when it comes to hot topic issues like cyberbullying, the curriculum is intended to provide a platform for educators and students to tackle this as an ethical concern and a learning teachable:
"Our role has really been to say these issues of children's behavior [online] really belong in the center of education as opposed to justice and law enforcement...Because this is about empowering young people to navigate this world responsibly and ethically. And it's about doing that in the context of school and home."
- Education Week
Based on the research of Harvard University education professor Howard Gardner, the Digital Citizenship curriculum bridges the link between the need to educate kids early about the basics of digital citizenship, how the new technology can lead to certain behaviours and scenarios, and how to manage these: empowering students with the tools to understand how their digital conduct can impact their relationships, identity, and psycho-social growth.

The curriculum conforms to content standards set by the International Society of Technology in Education, is geared toward grades 6-8 , and combines print, online, and video lessons within five lesson units: Digital Life, Privacy and Digital Footprints, Self-Expression and Identity, Connected Culture, and Respecting Creative Work.

For further reading on the issue of digital citizenship, students, and the role of education, see the report "Youth Safety on a Living Internet," written by the Online Safety and Technology Working Group. And not surprisingly, with the increase in cyberbullying incidents, parents have also become involved with a Ning network called Digi Parent - Digital Citizenship for Understanding, where they discuss many of the issues at hand and also provide valuable resources.