Common Sense Education:
Digital Citizenship Curriculum

Common Sense Education's Digital Citizenship Curriculum

Character Education but Traditional Lesson Formats

The character education emphasis of Common Sense Education is a close fit with some of the Core Practices of the Expeditionary Learning school model. For example, "Ring of Responsibility" corresponds to the seven character traits referenced in Crew and other lessons, and "Digital Life Dilemmas" correspond to the Case Study approach recommended to relate school to real life situations, and encourage students to be civic actors. It is easy for an EL teacher to see value in the goals of these lessons, and to see opportunities to adapt them to their own patterns, such a circle discussions.

Below are some excerpts from Common Sense Educations's Teaching Digital Citizenship in Today's World (PDF):

"The Digital Citizenship Curriculum addresses topic areas that are based on academic research and concerns from children, educators, and parents. The lessons are intentionally designed to cultivate both skills and dispositions to help young people thrive in our interconnected world.

The curriculum ... includes 73 easy-to-implement lessons across 13 grades/years (age 5 to 18), with 32 videos. We also provide "quick activities" for informal learning and time-limited settings, and engaging interactive games that jump-start students' learning (Digital Passport™, Digital Compass™, and Social Media Test Drive28). There are also collections that provide a deeper dive into topics related to digital citizenship, including social and emotional learning, civic learning, news and media literacy, and cyberbullying.

We need to help students develop crucial digital citizenship skills, like how to create strong passwords and protect private information, assess the credibility of online sources, and consider how an online comment might make another person feel. But we also want to build dispositions that will help them put those skills into practice. We want to support dispositions like slowing down and recognizing dilemmas as they arise, seeking facts and evidence to make informed decisions, and being curious about views that differ from their own. Ultimately, focusing on both skills and dispositions is key if we aim to help young people be responsible, reflective, and ethical decision makers in their connected lives.

The cornerstones of the curriculum are (1) the Rings of Responsibility framework, (2) Digital Life Dilemmas that reflect real situations kids may face in their everyday lives, and (3) Repetition and Routines that strategically build dispositions for digital citizenship. These cornerstones of the curriculum work together across every grade level and every topic."

Implementation Recommendations

Overall: Be selective in choosing lessons from Common Sense Education (a division of Common Sense Media). The goals and content are well-considered, worthy and student-centered, but the methods are traditional: presenting videos and slides followed by worksheets. They are general-purpose and teachable by anyone, so attractive for adoption, but the quality varies. A lesson that covers exactly the content you wish may not be engaging.

  1. News & Media Literacy

The News & Media Literacy lessons focus on skills and dispositions to identify credibility and trustworthiness in digital news and information sources, and for students to reflect on their responsibilities as thoughtful media creators and consumers.

Middle and high school students learn skills around how to analyze information, misinformation, and disinformation, using strategies for close reading and lateral reading. They also reflect on how personal opinion and confirmation bias shape our understanding of news.

Older students explore ways to break out of filter bubbles and echo chambers as a responsibility to themselves and others in being critical thinkers and citizens. Lessons focus on the dispositions "seeking facts and evidence" as students learn to analyze media and news messages, and "taking action" with practical steps they can take to be critical media consumers and creators.

2. Supplemental

Relationships & Communication | Media Balance & Well-Being | Cyberbullying, Digital Drama & Hate Speech: These 3 strands support inquiry into Social Media use and its potential to amplify misinformation via non-critical sharing of underexamined material, hastened by emotionally charged reactions to trolling (including counter-trolling). While healthy Social Media use is not a focus of Fake News Fitness, it is part of the Digital Literacy unit.