Cyberbullying Prevention: Digital Citizenship in a Connected Culture Curriculum

Looking for a curriculum to help address cyberbullying and digital citizenship with your middle schools students?  One which does not require special technical knowledge in order to implement it?  One which includes resources for students, teachers and parents?  Then take a look at this curriculum which will be available soon from Commonsense Media, apparently for FREE!  The curriculum is based on the digital ethics framework developed by Dr. Howard Gardner and the GoodPlay Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Project Zero.

The Digital Citizenship in a Connected Culture curriculum is not grounded in a “fear-based” approach, but instead is designed to:

1.  Introduce reliable, research-based information to students about digital media and their impact;

2.  Help students explore for themselves complex issues and gray areas of digital ethics;

3.  Help students build digital citizenship skills for life.

Like other curricula in this area, Digital Citizenship does focus on keeping children safe in the digital world …BUT, it also addressess an array of broader ethical issues such as offline vs. online norms and behavior, and the construction of identity online.  The ultimate goal of the curriculum is to empower students and their school communities to think critically and make more responsible and respectful choices about how they live and treat others in this fast-paced digital world.

There are three lessons for each topical unit, each of which takes 45 minutes.  The curriculum units are:

1.  Digital Life: Students explore the role of digital media in their lives, their communities, and their culture and learn how good digital citizens harness these tools responsibly.

2.  Privacy and Digital Footprints: Students develop skills to protect their privacy and respect the privacy of others.

3.  Self-expression and Identity: Students explore the nature of online vs. offline identity.

4.  Connected Culture: Students explore the ethics of online relationships - both the negative behaviors to avoid, like cyberbullying and hate speech, and the positive behaviors that support collaboration and community.

5.  Respecting Creative Work: Students learn the importance of respecting creative work in a connected culture.

Units can be taught as an integrated digital citizenship curriculum or as stand-alone units.  The focus on students, teachers, and parents stems from the belief that the work of educating and raising safe, responsible, and respectful children is a whole community effort.  All lessons are designed to be culturally appropriate, geared toward many learning styles, and to engage students whether they atend a school with one laptop per child or a school with no laptops at all.

The curriculum is “coming soon,” but you can check out the Privacy Unit Overview to get a flavor of what will be on offer, and sign up on the Commonsense Media website to be notified of when the curriculum will be available.

Don’t just take our word for it, though.  If you want to learn more about this curriculum, also check out Larry Magid’s 13-minute interview with Jim Steyer, the CEO of Common Sense Media (just click on the  ”Play” arrow next to the “Listen Now” tab of the Podcast).

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