Integrating Digital Citizenship

Extending our Duty of Care

Although new technology in schools has undoubtedly enhanced teaching and learning, Matt Harris thinks we tend to neglect our duty of care when it comes to all things digital. The answer? Digital Citizenship integratration across the whole school.

The digital story so far

As we know, technology integration into learning is pervasive in a large number of schools around the world. Even if schools have not embraced technology or are early in their journeys, technology is still ubiquitous in the world that students inhabit.

I once heard a mind-boggling statistic about student-teacher contact. If you take a student from kindergarten to the end of secondary and you assume perfect attendance over that period of time, you find that students only have contact with their teachers 6% of their lives. I haven’t verified this figure, so please don’t shoot the messenger. Yet, it makes sense when you account for recess, lunch periods, weekends, vacations, before and after school, and the all important sleeping time. As educators we don’t have a lot of time with our students.

Taking responsibility

Technology, on the other hand, is and will continue to be the currency of health and prosperity for our students in the modern world. Schools that provide 1:1 access to technology and expect its use in all elements of teaching and learning, must also provide educational programs and support for non-academic technology based learning, while working in partnership with parents and the broader community to meet their goals. At my last school, the British School of Jakarta, this became an initiative for the whole school community, including parents.

When this was fully embraced, we also committed 100% all to the idea of  Digital Citizenship to help students take ownership of their digital lives.

DC skills

All students need digital citizenship skills to participate fully in their communities and make smart choices online and in life. We produced an award-winning K–12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum which

  • Addressed top concerns for schools.
  • Prepared students with critical 21st-century skills.
  • Supported educators with training and recognition.
  • Engaged the whole community through family outreach.
Embedding Digital Citizenship in the school community

Digital Citizenship is in my view the bridge to modern education. If that is the case, it is also important to know how to operationalize that effort to involve all students, teachers, and parents and embed Digital Citizenship into all elements of an academic program.

To start, we embraced the ‘holy grail’ of Digital Citizenship by providing access to Common Sense Media. Common Sense Media (CSM) is a not-for-profit organization providing standards, benchmarks, curriculum and resources for all things Digital Citizenship. They have materials that can be used by students, teachers and parents directly from their site, free of charge, that is contextualized to meet most requirements. This content was the basis of our Digital Citizenship program development.

Training parents

More importantly, the school invested in our stakeholders. With parents we highlighted our semi-annual digital parenting workshops by developing a parent ambassador program. Using CSM materials, we created a program and trained a group of parents on the essential elements of Digital Citizenship which included a full tour of the CSM site. For new parents who may require more one to one support or need answers to further questions, we set up meetings with a parent ambassador, who was not employed by the school, to discuss Digital Citizenship and become familiar with the same language and knowledge base we used within the school community.

Investing in teachers

To embed Digital Citizenship in all our academic and pastoral (social-emotional) programs, we invested in our teachers. Teachers became Common Sense Media Digital Citizenship Certified Educator. This program from CSM is amazing – each teacher was able to:

  • Complete training on the CSM standards,
  • Integrate CSM materials into 4 lessons, and
  • Engage with their community around Digital Citizenship.

The results were amazing.

CPD content for teachers

For the training, our Learning Technology team put together an hour long self paced training course on our learning management system. We drew on materials from the CSM site while generating activities and scenarios to make learning more meaningful. Schools can easily create their own short training course or rely on the materials directly available from CSM.

In terms of integrating CSM materials into lessons, teachers were supported as they modified existing lessons to include elements of CSM’s materials, curriculum, and core concepts. For example, a lesson on cellular biology could now include internet based materials which refer to, fair use, copyright, information literacy and cyber protection.

Teachers supporting parents

For the home engagements, teachers sent materials home to parents as part of their normal communication or discussed CSM materials as part of their parent-teacher conferences.

Our teachers then registered on the CSM site and provided evidence of their completion. Once done, they are certified by CSM for that academic year. Being an international school, it was recommended that the teachers use their personal email addresses to register so they can take their certifications with them as they transition to other schools.


The benefits for the school were immense. They included:

  • Integration of Digital Citizenship concepts in all elements of the school’s academic programs and school community.
  • Engaged parents
  • Informed students
  • Trained teachers with resume-building certification
  • Consistent review and focus on these materials.*

As a result of the programs, students have been far more engaged, efficient, safe, and cognizant of their digital lives. Our incidents of cyber-bullying and unsafe activities has decreased and our engagements in STEM and digital literacies have grown. Our partnerships with parents have improved and the teachers have shown an incredible engagement with the program which resulted in more innovative uses of technology for learning.


Matt Harris Ed.DMatt Harris, Ed.D is an International Educational Consultant and Speaker working with teachers, students, schools, and companies around the world helping them use technology successfully.

Matt has implemented this type of Digital Citizenship program in several schools. Please contact Matt if you would like further information on how to integrate Digital Citizenship across all areas of the school. See


* One quick note about CSM certification: unlike other certifications, CSM only lasts for one year. Teachers have to re-certify to keep current. This is a minor exercise as the requirements are not difficult. It benefits the school because it is an area of training we revisit annually ensuring the teaching staff stay up to date.

Feature image by April Bryant from Pixabay

Support Image: Common Sense Media