Denver, CO and San Francisco, CA – Common Sense Media announced today the launch of its digital citizenship curriculum for middle schools, Digital Citizenship in a Connected Culture, a free program that empowers students to think critically and make informed choices about how they live and treat others in today’s digital world. The curriculum, which is based on the digital ethics research of Dr. Howard Gardner and the GoodPlay Project at Harvard Graduate School of Education, covers timely, critical topics, from privacy and social media to cyberbullying and self-expression, and uses both interactive activities and real-life stories from kids to get them engaged in the digital ethics discussion. The development of the digital citizenship curriculum was funded by three national foundations: The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Sherwood Foundation, and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
The first three units of the curriculum will be available online starting June 26 and the full curriculum will be available in late August 2010. The Maine Department of Education and the Omaha Public School District have already committed to implementing the program, while other districts, such as the New York City Department of Education are currently exploring how to do so for the 2010-2011 school year. Additionally, the Virginia Department of Education is offering Common Sense Media training sessions this summer for school districts implementing the digital citizenship curriculum.
“Given the amount of time kids spend with technology, digital ethics education is just as important as reading and writing,” said James Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media. “It is essential that every school in America teach digital literacy and citizenship so that all students have the opportunity to gain the skills they need to make safe, responsible, and respectful decisions in today’s 24/7 digital world."
The Maine Department of Education, which has begun promoting the program with schools, felt the need for a digital citizenship curriculum that was balanced and easy to implement. “Our schools are dealing with digital media issues day in and day out and there is no question that a curriculum like this is necessary,” said Jeff Mao, learning technology policy director for the Maine Department of Education. “What attracted us to the Common Sense curriculum is their balanced tone that encourages kids to both embrace the positive potential of the Internet and to avoid the perils of digital life. Their program also takes a whole community approach, educating parents, teachers, and students and creating strong home-school partnerships.”
Common Sense Media also announced the acquisition of the CyberSmart! K-12 student curriculum, which will lay the groundwork for expanding its middle school offering to a K-12 program. Common Sense Media will integrate key components of the CyberSmart! Curriculum, including “Safety and Security” and “Research and Information Literacy” to its program and will add video, interactive components, and a rich complement of parent resources to provide schools with the most comprehensive K-12 digital literacy and citizenship program in the country.
“The acquisition of the CyberSmart! K-12 student curriculum provides the foundation to expand our digital citizenship curriculum beyond middle school and into related digital literacy topic areas,” said Linda Burch, chief education and strategy officer at Common Sense Media. “The CyberSmart! approach to engaging students in digital literacy is well-aligned with ours, as we both emphasize critical thinking and decision making skills and empowering kids to harness the potential of digital media and technology in positive ways.”
CyberSmart! will continue to provide online professional development workshops on the 21st century skills necessary to meet the learning needs of today’s students at www.cybersmart.org.
“Since its launch eight years ago, the CyberSmart! student curriculum has been used by millions of students from around the world,“ said Mala Bawer, executive director of CyberSmart! “Common Sense Media also reaches millions of parents, educators and kids through its website, distribution partnerships, and network of Common Sense schools, and we’re thrilled that our education materials will become a part of such a successful and growing program.”
In addition to the launch of the digital citizenship curriculum for students, Common Sense Media’s Parent Media Education Program already provides educators and parents with practical guidance about the media and technology issues in their kids’ lives. The free program is currently used in more than 7,000 K-12 schools throughout the country and internationally.
For more information about Common Sense education programs, visit https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators.
About Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media is dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology. We exist because our kids are growing up in a culture that profoundly impacts their physical, social, and emotional well-being. We provide families with the advice and media reviews they need in order to make the best choices for their children. Through our education programs and policy efforts, Common Sense Media empowers parents, educators, and young people to become knowledgeable and responsible digital citizens. For more information, go to: www.commonsensemedia.org.
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Communications Manager, Common Sense Media