Digital Citizenship in Schools

Digital Citizenship should be an extension of the school’s culture at large, just as any other type of behavior. Education in how to behave in the digital world is the responsibility of the entire community: teachers, administration, support staff, and parents can all contribute. While some classroom time is needed to directly address these issues, much more can be integrated into technology use as a part of the curriculum.

The digital difference

Most interactions in the digital world are analogous to other, more conventional interactions. There are some important differences, however, that can amplify the effects of poor choices. Many students will not have considered the ways in which their digital interactions differ from their other interactions. When these differences are kept in mind, many online choices become much easier.

Persistence – What goes online, stays online. Possibly forever.

Searchability – If it is online somewhere, it can probably be found.

Replicability – If it is online, it can be copied. By anyone.

Scalability – Nothing is too small to become important.

Invisible audiences – There’s no telling who sees something online.

Blurring of public/private – It is often unclear how public or private something is online.

Loss of non-verbal communication – Nuance and subtlety hardly exist online.

Digital footprints

Students leave behind a history that will be visible for years to come. Classmates, college recruiters, and future employers will all have access to much of the students’ digital footprints. This can certainly have very negative consequences. However, it is also important for students to try to build a positive online presence, and to consider that they will have an online reputation that may one day be very useful. An emphasis on building this positive footprint rather than negative actions may be a useful approach.


Bullying is not tolerated at school, and bullying online is no different. Many issues can be avoided, however, by helping students realize that the same behavior codes apply online as elsewhere in the community. Understanding the differences between the online and offline worlds will only serve to emphasize that bullying online is a poor choice. Students will also be provided with healthy techniques to avoid trouble, such as a waiting period for posting, or asking a friend.


The internet can be a scary place. Students should know the best practices for life in the digital world, from choosing strong passwords to choosing what information is appropriate to share. Students should have some understanding of potentially thorny subjects such as copyright law, plagiarism, and libel. Students should also be able to make use of privacy settings and make good choices when choosing to deal with unknown entities online. Finally, students should be aware of the potential for identity theft and scams.

Digital Citizenship

I’ve been looking at a number of resources, to try to find a mix of topics that really fits the school’s culture. Here are some that I’ve found to be exceptional:


NYC Schools Social Media Guide

Connect Safely

Common Sense Media – Digital Citizenship Videos

Common Sense Media – Digital Literacy & Citizenship Curriculum

Digital Tattoo

21 Things

A Platform for Good


Some more science demo sites

National STEM Center (UK)

Nuffield Foundation  chemistry 




Royal institute channel


Google Lit Trips

Here’s a great idea! Story lines traced on Google Earth. Take a look at Frankenstein, for example, for how well this idea can be used. I’d really like to see more books here! There’s also a lot of potential for a class-produced project, with teams of students creating descriptions of each location.

Google Lit Trips

Here’s a summary of the site:

Quote presentation

Sometimes you just need a pretty quote. Here are some ways to make that happen:

Recite This

A great quick-and-easy tool for creating quotes with a number of pre-made backgrounds.


Quotes Cover:

A very configurable tool, with templates for a number of formats.


Pin Words:

Add your own text to your own pictures.



A versatile tool, including some really nice templates like such as dates, maps, sticky notes, and website snapshots.