A decade and a half into the 21st Century, computers are everywhere. Most people carry in their pockets a smart phone that has more computer power than all of NASA had at its disposal in 1969 when it landed a man on the moon. Today’s mobile devices are more powerful than the desktop computers of the 1990’s.
This is only going to increase. Today we carry our mobile devices in our pockets. Tomorrow we will be wearing them and putting them on each morning as we do our clothing. The education of today’s students must include how to effectively use modern technologies. It is right and appropriate that our schools modernize so that technology is integrated into instruction as it will be in the workplace of the future for our students.
Schools planning for a digital learning initiative have some parents who naturally express apprehension about whether or not students are responsible enough to care for such powerful and expensive digital learning devices. Certainly responsible behavior often matures with age. However, this is exactly one of the reasons we needed computers in the hands of the kids—that we need to teach them how to use their computers responsibly.
With this new movement of digital learning devices in schools, a new curriculum is emerging. The whole world is now accessible to any student with a digital device, and schools need to teach digital citizenship. All schools need a K-12 curriculum in this area, and teachers need training in how to instruct digital citizenship skills.
October 18 – 24 this year was National Digital Citizenship Week. A growing number of schools each year are engaging in learning activities at all grade levels with lessons designed to teach students the responsible use of technology tools.
I endorse the work of Common Sense Media (www.commonsensemedia.org). They have an appropriate K-12 curriculum with a coordinated scope and sequence and age-appropriate lessons that address digital literacy and citizenship topics. Their curriculum includes professional development materials, student interactives, assessments, and family outreach materials. What is more, their curriculum is free and it is turnkey so schools can use immediately. This is welcome and refreshing news for the many public schools across this nation that have been bludgeoned by repeated budget cuts over the past decade.Digital literacy and citizenship skills are skills that students can use for the rest of their lives. New devices and systems will come and go, but responsible use of technologies will be timeless. A brave new world is emerging, characterized by anytime, anywhere connections for everyone. This age is coming with new challenges and new trials for our children. However, schools can play an important role in educating students for how to use technology responsibly.