Digital Citizenship Lessons

One topic that continues to be of interest and importance for schools and families is Digital Citizenship. How can we interact safely and appropriately online? The topic of citizenship comes in to play in a very big way. Are we being considerate of others in our words, deeds and actions? Looking out for others both locally and globally online is the trademark of a good ‘digital citizen’.

Today, I spoke with a group of teachers at St. Bernadette School on the topic of safety and digital ciitzeship. The goal of the time we spent together was to explore the many types of resources online for teaching digital citizenship. The school is proactive in aims to educate parents, teachers and students on the topic. They had many great ideas for supporting teachers and parents with online safety and citizenship.

I used a web 2.0 tool called Mentormob to create a playlist of sites. This is an effective tool to use because it allows you to easily add resources. These resources display the webpage and from there you can easily show the site and return quickly to the playlist. It is a nice and interactive way to present various websites.

What resources should be added to this list?

Create your own Playlist on MentorMob!
Related Posts
Getting Started with Digital Citizenship – TechConnects
D is for Digital Citizenship – TechConnects

Web Filtering Checklist

Tide takes dunes



When schools make web filtering and blocking decisions, they need to be sure that they are not also blocking learning, blocking productivity, blocking progress.  Shifts have occurred widely over the last couple of years in schools regarding the filtering question. Security still remains a top priority. However, the question of what content to block and not block is one where the winds of change are continually blowing.

Fighting the tide

Take the story of new dunes installed at a beach. I remember when new dunes were added at a beach near my home. They were tall and mighty. Surely they would serve their purpose. Two months and one very big storm later, something happened. The dunes were washed away to a great extend. Two full blocks worth were gone.  The powerful ocean overtook them.

I think in many ways this is what is happening with filters and web content. Though many schools and organizations block and carefully keep the web at bay, web technology and its ever changing nature continues to command attention. Nature takes it’s course. People find new ways to access web content. Students use proxy sites or their smartphone.  Teachers become frustrated in their attempts to access content. Valuable time can be spent working on solutions.

The topic of filtering is an important one. The web offers more and more educational content.   Having a proactive and collaborative strategy is essential when making decisions on filtering today. It will equip our students better in the long run.

Natural Shifts

Blocking was once a simple issue. Block inappropriate content such as hate sites, chat sites, instant messaging functions, inappropriate images and more and you were all set. Then came the proliferation of web 2.0 sites, the growth of collaborative technologies and impact of social tools.

What were once easy decisions have become sticky ones.  What was once black and white has become many shades of gray like the changing tides of the ocean. What should schools consider? View this checklist for evaluating your strategy.

Checklist for Evaluating Filtering Strategies


  • Look at laws and government guidelines to be followed – Consider CIPA. Often their requirements are misconstrued to be more strict that they actually are.
  • Look at district and local rules – Are there standards that our district has put forth? What prior policies exist?
  • Look at security concerns – Consider viruses, malware, bandwidth, access and more. What priorities exist?
  • Look at existing feedback – What do admins, teachers and students report about the filter? Does it meet educational needs?
  • Look at the existing filter – Is it flexible? Does it allow for multiple filtering levels for administrators, teachers and students? If not, when can we upgrade to add more functionality?
  • Look at current processes – How easily can teachers and students get access to sites for educational use?
  • Look at your decision making team – Who determines which sites are blocked? CIOs and IT are needed. Educational leaders and teachers should also be involved in this decision making.
  • Look at current educational initiatives – Are current initiatives requiring expanded access. If so, are the best web communication and collaboration tools available for this purpose?
  • Consider Options that are Win/Win – Is a walled garden approach an approach that might work for your school? With sites such as this, social and collaborative technologies coexist with more tightened security.
  • Look at the Policies in place – How often does your school or district evaluate your approach to filtering? The web evolves daily as do educational means for using web content.
  • Look at Digital Literacy supports – Are you teaching all parties how to use the web safely and appropriately?  Education is essential. Given appropriate education in place, we are equipping educators and students with the decision making skills that will serve them long after they have left us.

Mock on, mock on,’tis all in vain! You throw the sand against the wind, And the wind blows it back again. Voltaire Rousseau

Filter Fitness Guidelines

  • Know the rules. Don’t interpret them so that your implementation is more strict that the law
  • Upgrade your filter and build in flexibility
  • Involve Educators
  • Focus on educational purpose
  • Be aware of the changing landscape
  • Educate your community as to your approach
  • Balance network security needs with educational needs
  • Go for win win. Work to benefit all parties involved.
  • Reassess often
  • Make Digital literacy and citizenship education a priority

Given the wide range of content out there which has sound educational value, this can no longer be strictly an IT level decision.  Schools and organizations can’t  continue to block strictly and expect to reap the benefits of today’s web. If we want to provide
the most relevant education for the 21st Century, we need to have a filtering strategy that is informed and flexible.

This is cross posted on School CIO

Related Resources

CIPA – Children’s Internet Protection Act
Digital Citizenship Resources for SchoolsTechConnects
Speak Up Survey – Input on Filtering Listed
EdWeek – Filtering Debate

Online Safety Resources – Celebrating the Bridge Between Home and School

The safety and security of our children is so very important. It is a concern that school personnel share along with parents. Many schools hold Internet Safety nights for parents where parents can learn more about educating, engaging and empowering children as they use the internet for life and learning.It is wonderful to see the commitment to safe and responsible online use. These schools deserve much credit as they empower their children to learn effectively and safely in the digital age!

St. Philip and James School

Parent Nights – Sponsored by the Home and School Association

I recently spoke to parents at St. Philip and James School in Exton, Pa. They are a school in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The pastor Rev. Joseph C. Dieckhaus, the principal, Sister Helen Thomas, IHM and the Home and School Association worked in tandem to plan a night on Internet Safety. The focus was on positive uses of technology for learning and educating children on how to avoid risks they can encounter online. Sister had Internet Safety handbooks for each and every family from the school.

Resources abound for parents as they work with their children on Online Safety and Digital Citizenship.

These resources can be used by:

  • School administrators for parent presentations and in parent communications
  • Classroom Teachers in teaching students safe and responsible technology use
  • Parents as they teach children safe and responsible everyday use at home and away from home

14 Online Safety Resources for Parents

Includes Links to Handouts you can give to parents or send electronically

  1. Netsmartz Parent Page
  2. Netsmatz Safety Pledges Handouts for Parents, Teachers, Students
  3. Netsmartz Parent Presentations for Schools
  4. Netsmartz Parent Handout for Internet SafetyHandouts for Parents, Teachers, Students. Made available on our Archdiocesan schools website with permission from Netsmartz
  5. Netsmartz All Downloads – Lessons, Safety Pledges and Videos
  6. BrainPOP
  7. Netcetera Chatting with Kids about Being Online Booklet . Handouts for Parents and Teachers. Order the Booklet and bookmarks free for schools.
  8. Facebook for Parents – Common Sense Media
  9. Parent Handout Common Sense Media Handouts for Parents, Teachers, Students
  10. Facebook Guide for Parents Explained –
  11. Facebook Guide for Parents on ScribdHandouts for Parents
  12. ISC2 Top Ten Tips for Keeping Children Safe Online
  13. Handouts for Parents, Teachers, Students.  Free resources. Order enough for all families! Distribute booklet and bookmark. Order free copies of Net Cetera and the complete Net Cetera Community Outreach Toolkit at  Use in school and at home. Include the information in a newsletter, link to it, or use the videos on a website.  These materials are in the public domain.
  14. Digital Citizenship Themes

3 Research Studies to Consider concerning Online Safety

  1. Digital Youth Study conducted by the MacArthur Foundation – 2009
  2. Netsmartz Statistical Summary – Collection of research statistics on Internet Safety and the role of Safety Education –
  3. The Safe Use of New Technology – Ofsted – Study of the impact of Interet Safety/Digital Citizenship education on safe practices by school children. Role of filtering and blocking strategies is evaluated.

Resources abound for parents and schools as they work with their children on Online Safety and Digital Citizenship. These are some of my favorite resources. What others would you share?

Teachers Learning about Digital Citizenship

One only needs to read the headlines to know that there is a pressing need to emphasize both safe and responsible use of the internet. With the whirlwind pace of change in technology there is no doubt that ongoing discussions of what is right, what is true and what it means to be a good ‘Digital Citizen’ can benefit us all. In fact, they are essential.

The teachers in our Philadelphia area Archdiocesan schools were invited to a session called Digital Citizenship for Classroom Teachers held on Oct 14th online via Elluminate. The goal was to discuss Digital Citizenship in support of safe and responsible uses of technology in their classrooms on a daily basis.The was part of a series of Virtual Academy sessions held last year and this year in conjunction with Powerful Learning Practice.  We were fortunate to have Robin Ellis, Clarence Fisher and Alec Couros as presenters. Each shared richly from their experiences with working online in innovative and effective ways with teachers and students. Below are the links shared and a link to the online session in Elluminate. Please share any other resources that you suggest for classrooms.

5 categories of Digital Citizenship Outlined

  • Etiquette, Safety and Privacy,
  • Research and Truth Finding
  • Online Ownership
  • Literacy and Communication
  • Tools

One Liners for Digital Citizenship

During our online session with Robin Ellis, teachers created some Digital Citizenship one liners. Just as we say ‘Be careful crossing the street’ or ‘Drive safely’ we should have some one liners for being a good online digital citizen. One that many are familiar with is the famous, Think Before You Post’. These are ones our teachers came up with. What would you add?

  • Digital Footprints are forever
  • Digital Footprints never disappear
  • Develop a clean digital footprint
  • Nothing posted online is ever truly private
  • Be the best self you can be everywhere – in person and online
  • It’s like posting a sign on your front lawn
  • Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should

Websites to Support Digital Citizenship Lesson cards as found on


Netsmartz Real Life Stories

Netsmartz Public Service Announcements

Related Posts

Five Reasons to Teach Digital Citizenship

Stalking in English Class

Watch our Virtual Academy – Digital Citizenship for Teachers  Archived Session

Archived Sessions – Digital Citizenship for Teachers – Virtual Acacemy held Oct 14, 2010 :

Afternoon Session  – Given by Robin Ellis

Evening Session in Elluminate – Given by Clarence Fisher and Alec Couros

View the Presentation below

Digital Citizenship – To Empower

This video is from the Family Online Safety Institute and it emphasizes one of the very important reasons that we should teach Digital Citizenship. Digital Citizenship and responsible use of technology education should be a part of our work in education each day.

Five Reasons to Teach Digital Citizenship

  1. It helps to keep children safe. Keeping children and youth safe and secure  is a top priority whether online or not online.
  2. It fosters important and time honored ethical tenants and values such as Respect, Kindness, Compassion.
  3. It allows children and youth to take their place as contributors to the 21st century world community.
  4. It empowers our youth to learn with and to take advantage of the wealth of powerful resources online.
  5. It develops critical skills that will become increasingly important in an ever changing, technology rich world.

Why do you think that Digital Citizenship education is important? What reasons would you add?

Digital Citizenship Resources

Related Posts:

Digital Dossier