#16 – More Dos (and Fewer Don’ts) for Teaching Digital Citizenship

Unpacking Education December 2, 2020 22 min

Don’t share your personal information. Don’t talk to strangers. Don’t post rude comments. Too often, we have started the conversation about digital citizenship with students around the don’ts. That mindset of treating digital citizenship lessons as a checklist of bad online behaviors to avoid has changed. By shifting to the dos, we engage students in a topic that inspires them to become thoughtful, empathetic digital citizens who collaborate to solve important problems at the intersection of technology and humanity.

Join our Digital Learning Specialists as they talk about reframing digital citizenship to empower students in building online communities where they work together to use technology to embrace the possibilities rather than focusing solely on risks—where personal responsibility inspires global connections.

Paul Beckermann
PreK-12 Digital Learning Specialist
Rena Clark
Digital Learning Coach
Pamela Beckermann
PreK-12 Digital Learning Specialist

Below, you will find resources and tips shared during the podcast to support your virtual-teaching goals.

What you post online speaks VOLUME about who you really are. POST with intention. REPOST with caution.

Germany Kent, journalist, media expert, and best-selling author


In this week’s episode, we discuss the following strategies and resources that are available on AVID Open Access for you to explore in more depth.

Focus on Trust and Transparency

Let’s talk about how to shift the framework for teaching digital citizenship from a focus on what might likely be a forbidding acceptable use policy at your school or district to a positive conversation about digital empowerment to engage your students in the possibilities that technology can provide.

Building Awareness, Setting Expectations, and Nurturing a Positive Culture

Awareness: Start by building awareness of digital citizenship—help students define it, develop activities to help students experience it, and model it through your remote and hybrid teaching.

  • Define it. Common Sense Education defines digital citizenship as a way of thinking, being, and acting online: Think critically, be safe, and act responsibly.
  • Develop experiential activities. Educator Heather Marrs explains that “digital citizenship is a key skill for living and working in a connected world. And I’ve found that if my students don’t learn this important skill set in an authentic way, it will be just another abstract idea that becomes real only when they run into problems down the road.”
    • For the most powerful learning experiences, students should participate in collaborative learning where they are sharing and connecting online with others in a variety of environments. One example is to have your students work together to build a website about a class project. As they research ideas, craft content, design the website, and create media to support it, you will have multiple opportunities to engage in deep conversations about respecting the rights and responsibilities of others.
  • Model it. Use technology in a way that demonstrates problem-solving, idea generation, and information gathering. Because technology is so pervasive, students can learn anytime and anywhere, so long as you show them how.

Expectations: Create and share high expectations around digital citizenship, hold students accountable for following those expectations, and teach digital citizenship skills to your students in both direct and indirect ways.

  • Provide transferrable strategies. Help students develop strategies and habits that can be transferred across technologies. Technology is changing so rapidly that what might be true today could be different tomorrow. The ISTE Standards for Students are examples of transferable skills that can be taught.

Culture: Develop a culture of positive digital citizenship, where students become empowered to support and inspire one another.

  • Provide a safe space to practice. Start internally, with your LMS or sites with limited sharing. Older students can create a blog or website. Younger students can share a class space like a Seesaw blog. Review each other’s work and send praise. “This is what you did well” goes a long way toward reinforcing and continuing positive digital citizenship. Whether young or old, no one tires of praise.

Digital Tools

Let us help you look for new ways to practice self-care. We share tips for the following digital tools in this week’s episode.

  • Common Sense Education provides a multitude of resources to support students and families as they learn about digital citizenship and how to incorporate it meaningfully into their daily lives.
    • Digital Citizenship Kahoots: Use these Digital Citizenship Week kahoots to help your students reflect on how technology affects them, their relationships, and their communities.
    • Digital Citizenship Curriculum: Explore the interactive lessons and activities that Common Sense Education has designed for grades K–12. Use the lesson plans to help prepare students to take ownership of their digital lives. You can search for lessons by topic or grade.
    • Common Sense Media Reviews: Explore this hub for reviews of age-appropriate films, books, TV shows, video games, websites, and music that children will enjoy. There are multiple filters available—including entertainment type, topics, character strengths, and more—to help parents find the perfect fit!