As Omaha Public Schools began working toward transforming its use of and access to technology, one thing was clear: the planned obsolescence of devices would be coupled with intentional instruction of digital citizenship in our schools as we introduced new technology to our students.
Common Sense Education provides an excellent framework to digital citizenship instruction including a nationally-recognized certification program. Common Sense provides a K – 12 curriculum with over 60 lesson plans available as free, downloadable PDFs, or as a paid, interactive iBooks or Nearpod bundles.
As the Lead Teacher of Digital Citizenship in partnership with Common Sense Media, I work to facilitate this implementation, district-wide in Omaha Public Schools. In addition to planning and delivering lessons, schools must take a whole-community approach to digital citizenship instruction, providing professional development to all teachers, and engaging the parent community of their school by sharing resources or planning events to help support digital literacy. This whole-community approach goes even further, beyond the four walls of our schools, out into the community through partnerships with local non-profit and community organizations.
The deep implementation of digital citizenship instruction with Common Sense Education resources happens through professional development for our teachers within the Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) Program. In this program, 1 – 3 educators from each school in our district serve as MIEs and received specialized and intense training on using Microsoft products in an education setting. In addition to this tool training, they receive pedagogical, professional development on integrating technology effectively. At the foundation of technology integration is digital citizenship. Because of this importance, we use our MIE program as a vehicle to create Common Sense Education content experts in our MIEs. They are the technology leaders in their school and the people who anyone teaching digital citizenship skills or teaching with technology can come to with questions and for support. I help to provide support with these resources but also will come to schools and support directly with lessons, or provide parent education for special events at OPS schools.
Digital Citizenship education is about providing opportunities to all students, teachers, and parents a like, providing not just lessons in online safety, but by providing resources to parents to help engage in conversations about media with their children. Through our whole-community approach to digital citizenship education, we’re creating a young community of savvy creators and consumers of digital media.