"To fulfill the promise of digital citizenship, Americans must acquire multimedia communication skills that include the ability to compose messages using language, graphic design, images, and sound, and know how to use these skills to engage in the civic life of their communities." ~Renee Hobbs


In these challenging economic times, we recognize that many districts are not able to provide release time and resources to support classroom teachers in developing curriculum and integrating digital citizenship principles effectively. However, thanks to the vision, commitment, and leadership of the Elk Grove Unified School District (Gail’s district), which recognized early on the moral and legal imperatives to teach digital citizenship to our 21st century learners, we had a launching pad for the Digital ID project. For those districts that are just beginning their journey, it is our hope that the Digital ID project will provide a jump start onto a well-developed path.

As we began roaming through the vast online DC resources available, we were grateful to Mike Ribble for his vision in articulating 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship to help us identify the main themes. Inspired by David Burt's visual white paper, Fostering Digital Citizenship, and wanting to streamline the process for classroom teachers to seamlessly weave digital citizenship components into the core curriculum, we chose to consolidate the 9 elements into 4. Our first focus - Stepping Up, a call to social action - is the driving force of the Digital ID project. We are committed to empowering students to find their voice as (digital) readers and writers and to “be the change.” As students step up and out onto the Internet, we also want to ensure that they understand the need to build and maintain a positive digital footprint, to respect intellectual property boundaries, and to protect their privacy.

Our project also embraces the Common Core State Standards, which we believe will be an engine driving much of the integration of technology into the curriculum, and that's a win-win for students. In the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects (see the PDF here:), you’ll find that the standards address a broad array of digital skills our students need to master, such as becoming “adept at gathering information, evaluating sources, and citing material accurately,” (p.63), including “analyzing the purpose of information presented in diverse media and formats... and evaluate the motives (e.g., social, commercial, political) behind its presentation” (p.49). Students are also expected to “actively seek to understand other perspectives and cultures through reading and listening....They evaluate other points of view critically and constructively” (p.7), so that they can “engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions... with diverse partners...building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly,” (p.49) leading to the capacity to “produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience” (p.46),

Similarly, California's Common Core State Standards for Mathematics paint a compelling portrait of what our 21st century students should know and be able to do. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics delineates the “processes and proficiencies” that teachers need to develop in their students. These include “skills of problem solving, reasoning and proof, communication, representation, and connections.” Specifically, Process Standard #1 describes students as problem-solvers -- (mathematical) thinkers who can “make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.” Process Standard # 3 values students as critical thinkers who can “construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.” Additionally, Process Standard #5 depicts students as discriminating consumers (of technology tools) who know how to “use appropriate tools strategically.“

In short, these “habits of mind” are qualities that all teachers, no matter their content area, should strive to inculcate in their students. For us, the above composite from the Common Core Standards represents the quintessential Digital Citizen. Most would agree that just as critical thinking, problem solving, and strategic tool use are not solely the math teachers’ responsibilities, neither is the analysis and evaluation of information and the development of clear and coherent writing the sole domain of the English or Social Studies teacher. As our learning and teaching moves ever more into the cybersphere, all adults on campus must commit to developing students who are adequately prepared for their global, digital futures.

Another distinguishing characteristic of our project is that it is meant to be a collaborative one -- a "sharing space" between us and other teachers across the globe who are finding ways to integrate Digital Citizenship into their curriculum. That is the ultimate richness of the Digital ID project -- not just as a collection of excellent resources for teachers, although it is indeed that. But as a place for teachers to "give one / get one" as they design ways for students to be empowered digital citizens. We look forward to watching this site grow and expand as a result of our collective strengths and insights into what it means to be a Digital Citizen.

~ Natalie Bernasconi and Gail Desler, 2013