Guiding Students to Digital Citizenship

According to the Pew Research Center, 93% of kindergarten through 12th-grade parents said their kids had online learning during the pandemic (McClain et al., 2021). Technology use continues until today, either in school or at home. The regulations and our expectations are catching up as problems arise. It is never too late to teach students what and how to use technology; however, we must have agreed standards across the board, especially among educators, to expect the same outcome. We want students to know how to get the most out of technology to reach their learning goals while being healthy and wise. The ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) Standards for Students provide a framework for integrating technology effectively and responsibly into education. The standards focus on developing students’ digital skills, critical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration, and responsible digital citizenship (Retrieved from ISTE website).

Question: What are the ways to assess and enhance students’ skills and knowledge of ‘ISTE Standards for Students’ using technology? 


One of the must-have skill sets in today’s fast-growing digital realm, from the ISTE Standards for Students, is digital citizenship. Assessing students’ digital citizenship involves evaluating their knowledge, skills, and behavior related to responsible and ethical technology use. There are many ways to assess students’ digital citizenship; however, I believe the most effective way is to do a survey. Through surveys or questionnaires, educators can gather information about students’ understanding of digital citizenship, online behavior, and awareness of the risks and responsibilities when using technology to possibly identify issues or needs. Older students may be able to do self-assessments however, keeping the survey anonymous may be a way to get more honest responses from students. Educators always have the opportunity to observe students’ behavior during online activities, like group projects or online discussions, and assess whether or not they are practicing responsible, respectful behavior and digital citizenship. If educators notice issues like digital ethics, cyberbullying, privacy, etc…, they can include hypothetical scenarios in the survey to assess and address the problem. Students analyze the situation in the scenarios and propose appropriate actions, demonstrating their understanding of digital citizenship and appropriate actions. Google Forms assessment template can come in handy to create a digital citizenship assessment survey and keep it anonymous. The best part is that it is easy to create. Once the survey is completed, educators have access to auto-generated, comprehensive data overseeing students’ assessment of digital citizenship, quickly identifying the areas that need to be addressed. 

With students’ data in hand and knowing what skills and knowledge must be included in the lesson plan, it is time to look for the right resources for teaching digital citizenship. Common Sense’s Digital Citizenship Curriculum encourages responsible use of technology to learn, create, and participate, yet addresses real issues students face, like internet safety, cyberbullying, privacy, hate speech, misinformation, and digital distraction. The innovative lessons teach students to think critically and develop the habits of mind to navigate digital dilemmas in their everyday lives. It was created in collaboration with Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, guided by research with thousands of educators and parents (Retrieved from Common Sense website). 

The CommonSense digital citizenship curriculum comprises 73 lessons across 13 grades, covering ages 5 to 18. The curriculum provides a structured approach with specific lesson durations ranging from 30 minutes for grades K–2, 45 minutes for grades 3–8, and 50 minutes for grades 9–12. It is designed to be adaptable to different grade levels and can be easily integrated into existing teaching plans.

The curriculum addresses six core topics of digital citizenship, grounded in the latest research: Media Balance & Well-Being, Privacy & Security, Digital Footprint & Identity, Relationships & Communication, Cyberbullying/ Digital Drama & Hate Speech, and News & Media Literacy. The content is engaging and developmentally appropriate, featuring various multimedia resources such as characters, song videos, digital dilemma scenarios, and “Teen Voices” videos. Interactive games and extension activities further enhance student engagement. Additionally, the curriculum offers resources in multiple languages, including Spanish, to assist English language learners and supports family engagement through tip sheets, advice, and presentations. Tips and resources cover current topics and useful resources for students and all stakeholders. Teachers have access to online professional development resources, including self-paced training and webinars, to enhance their implementation of the curriculum by being ‘digital citizens’ themselves. 

It is crucial to highlight that curriculum aligns with U.S. education standards such as Common Core, ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education), CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning), AASL (American Association of School Librarians), and TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills), and it can be used to ensure compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) for E-rate, the Universal Service Schools and Libraries.

However, because the curriculum tries to cover most grade levels and student backgrounds, the content may fail to address the unique needs of some students. Educators should supplement the curriculum with additional resources to ensure a more personalized and relevant learning experience. Also, it may need to be updated with technology trends and emerging digital issues with new platforms, apps, and technology tools used in the curriculum. Furthermore, the CommonSense curriculum covers a wide range of digital citizenship topics, which can be useful but may also present time constraints for teachers. Educators may find it challenging to allocate sufficient time to explore each topic in depth, which could lead to students just knowing certain concepts about digital citizenship but not having the actual skill sets.

I recommend the CommonSense digital citizenship curriculum because it is free, has a track record of receiving positive reviews from many educators, and provides a comprehensive framework to equip K-12 students with essential digital skills, knowledge, and responsible behaviors. The curriculum empowers students to become responsible digital citizens, incorporating interactive learning technology. It also promotes critical thinking, media literacy, digital creativity, collaboration, and global awareness. As stated in the ISTE standards for Students – Digital Citizen: Students recognize the rights, responsibilities and opportunities of living, learning and working in an interconnected digital world, and they act and model in ways that are safe, legal and ethical. 1.2.a Students cultivate and manage their digital identity and reputation and are aware of the permanence of their actions in the digital world. 1.2.b Students engage in positive, safe, legal and ethical behavior when using technology, including social interactions online or when using networked devices. 1.2.c Students demonstrate an understanding of and respect for the rights and obligations of using and sharing intellectual property. 1.2.d Students manage their personal data to maintain digital privacy and security and are aware of data-collection technology used to track their navigation online. The CommonSense curriculum enhances skills and knowledge as stated in the ISTE standards for digital citizens, preparing students for a real world where technology plays a significant part in their education and personal lives.


Common Sense Education. Digital Citizenship.

ISTE Standards for Students.

McClain, Colleen, Emily A. Vogels, Andrew Perrin, Stella Sechopoulos, and Lee Rainie. “The Internet and the Pandemic.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech. Pew Research Center, April 28, 2022. 

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