The course is comprised of seven different units and was based in part on Common Sense Media’s Digital Citizenship curriculum, ISTE Standards for Students, and Dr. Mike Ribble’s 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship. Each unit begins with an overview, essential questions, assignments, and an assessment. Although digital citizenship is a broad topic, the course focuses on the following aspects of digital citizenship: information literacy, self-image and identity, relationships and communication, cyberbullying and digital drama, digital footprint and reputation, internet safety, privacy, and security, and creative credit. Below is a brief overview of each unit in the course.
Perhaps the most important unit of the course, the information literacy unit helps students clearly understand the research process. The overall student learning goal is to become a successful researcher. The ability to find, evaluate, and use information effectively is a skill required not only for academic success at the secondary level, it is required for college and careers. Through watching a series of high quality videos about information literacy, this unit teaches effective search strategies, evaluation techniques, and how to determine the quality, credibility, and validity of information found online. Students learn how to conduct an effective keyword search and how to differentiate the research process for academic versus personal needs. Students will be able to transfer and apply their research skills and knowledge to any academic subject area, making information literacy a key component of any digital citizenship curriculum.
Self-Image and Identity
The self-image and identity unit allows students to be introspective and explore how they and others represent themselves online, and the relationship between online and offline selves. With social media tools such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter being used by the vast majority of high school students, this unit gives students the opportunity to think about how they are presenting themselves to the world, both on and offline. Students learn that assuming different personas online carries both benefits and risks.
Relationships and Communication
In this unit, students explore the pressures many teens face to keep up appearances online. They reflect on the environment of judgement and criticism on social network sites and the double standard that often times applies to boys and girls. Students are asked to reflect on their own experiences with sharing online, specifically sharing photos and are encouraged to make connections between these experiences and broader social messages about gender.
Cyberbullying and Digital Drama
Burlington High School is fortunate to have a school culture where cyberbullying is not that prevalent. Part of the reason students do not engage in cyberbullying is because the administration and many teachers use the same social media tools as they do. Students know that if they chose to cyberbully, the likelihood of them getting caught and facing disciplinary consequences would be high. Students also receive digital citizenship lessons at the middle and elementary level and once they enter high school, they are aware that what they post online could impact their future; and many want this impact to be positive. The cyberbullying unit explores both the positive and negative aspects of communicating with others online. Students learn to identify various types of cyberbullying and discuss its impact on the individuals involved. They evaluate various scenarios to determine what constitutes cyberbullying, analyze the differences between in-person and online bullying, and discuss what teens can do to influence others to engage in positive communication across social networks.
Digital Footprint and Reputation
In this unit, students learn the about the benefits of sharing information online as well as the risks of sharing inappropriate content. They explore the risks and responsibilities of engaging in relationships in a digital world. They learn that anything they post about themselves or anything others post about them online becomes a part of their public, permanent digital footprint. At the conclusion of this unit, students are able to think critically about what they post and share about themselves online and the impact on their e-reputation. The goal of this unit is to help students understand they have control over their digital footprint.
Internet Safety, Privacy, and Security
In this unit students learn that the Internet provides opportunities for global collaboration. However, they will be able to distinguish between inappropriate contact versus positive online relationships, compare and contrast stereotypes and realities when it comes to interacting with strangers or casual acquaintances online, and discuss ways to help teens avoid risky online behavior. Students explore the concept of privacy in their individuals lives and how it relates to their use of the Internet. They learn about the importance of setting privacy controls on social networks and what should and shouldn't be shared online. Similar to the digital footprint unit, students learn about the potential consequences of posting inappropriate content online.
In this final unit, students learn that they are fortunate to be growing up in a time where they can create, publish, and share their original digital work with others through the Internet. They learn that whenever they create a piece of original work, they owner that work, and as a result, they have the ability to dictate if and how others can use what they have created. Likewise, students learn that when they discover work that has been created by someone else, they must understand if and how that person’s work can be used. The legal and ethical aspects of respecting the digital work of others is the main student learning goal of this unit and there is an emphasis on understanding intellectual property, copyright and creative commons,
We are confident that all Burlington High School students will have a more thorough understanding of digital citizenship upon completion of this course and will positive and productive members of our digital world.