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How Country Day Defines and Teaches Digital Citizenship

Our students are model citizens of the world and we recognize that in the 21st century there is no divide between the online and physical worlds. We take a whole-community approach to preparing our students to use the immense power of digital media to explore, create, connect, and learn, while limiting the perils that exist in the online realm. In 2015, we became the first area school to become a Common Sense Digital Citizenship Certified School—a distinction we're proud of. 

As we prepare to welcome Founder and CEO of Common Sense Media James Steyer to campus on October 18, we asked members of our Digital Citizenship Committee questions about our school's commitment to digital citizenship.

Responses by Digital Citizenship Committee members Jody Specker, Lower School librarian and chair of the committee; Joe Hernick, Director of Educational Technology; Tameka Woodard, Middle School Director of Studies

How does Country Day blend curriculum with technology?

Technology is used when it is the right tool for the task within an individual discipline or curriculum. Teachers use technology to deliver content or to aid in instruction as a way to enhance student learning. Students use an array of technologies to read about, research, and examine topics and concepts in every subject area. They are often given the choice of how and when to use technology to record, share, or apply what they have learned. When technology is the curriculum, such as in computer or library classes, lessons seamlessly integrate classroom curricular concepts into the acquisition and practice of target digital skills. (Jody Specker)

While we provide 1:1 devices for all students in grades 3–12, we are not a "1:1 tech school." We have always included using appropriate technologies where they improve teaching and deepen learning. We've had computers in classrooms since the 1980s and have examples of other classroom technology going back decades before that! We continue our practice of using the best tools to help our faculty and students, while avoiding the use of "technology for technology's sake." (Joe Hernick)

Students using iPads

How do you define "digital citizenship" and what expectation do you have for our students?

Quite simply, I view digital citizenship as an extension of everyday citizenship expectations. Any “digital” policy or guidance is based on expectations for how we expect our students to behave in face-to-face encounters. (Joe Hernick)

Digital citizenship is knowing how to behave safely, ethically, legally, morally, and intelligently online and then doing it. It has been referred to as “the new citizenship.” Our students are expected to follow the guidelines of the Responsible Use Policy for their division. (Jody Specker)

Little girl in the Hance Learning Center

What sorts of guidelines do you have in place, especially in regards to the digital citizenship of students?

Students start on digital citizenship in junior kindergarten and continue this instruction through Upper School. The research-based curriculum offered by Common Sense Media provides the framework for lessons that tackle the digital issues facing today’s youth—internet safety, copyright, online relationships, privacy, security, cyberbullying, personal reputation, information literacy, and social justice—and gives students the skills and habits of mind to become ethical and safe digital citizens, no matter what the technology of tomorrow might hold. Because teachers model and teach digital citizenship in every classroom, students see that it applies to every facet of their lives.  (Jody Specker)

All of our students sign a Responsible Use Policy at the beginning of the school year which focuses on being a good citizen. Students are taught that moral standards take place off and online. Some of the guidelines include only taking pictures or videos with the permission of others involved, accessing only sites allowed by the school, and playing only educational games. (Tameka Woodard)

Upper School boys in classroom

What exactly is the Digital Citizenship (DigCit) Committee and who is involved?

We are starting the fifth year of our DigCit Committee and we have had parents, students, faculty, staff, and administrators involved in understanding the changing digital landscape to guide our school and shape policy and curriculum. The committee meets approximately three times a year to discuss current trends and research, sharing experiences from all three divisions. (Joe Hernick)

What benefits do you see in having a DigCit Committee?

Having an active DigCit Committee keeps our community current and engaged in the positive aspects of technology, allows us to stay aware of potential trends or technology that might negatively impact our students, and provides a platform for us to keep our citizenship curriculum current. In the end, we recognize that DigCit is just an extension of citizenship. Country Day prides itself on our commitment to community and our values. Having a proactive digital citizenship strategy is only one small part of our work. (Joe Hernick)

Interested in seeing James Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media?

Join us on Thursday, October 18, at 7 pm in Gorelick Family Theater. RSVP.

James Steyer is also the author Talking Back To Facebook: A Common-Sense Guide to Raising Kids in the Digital Age. The book is a compelling exploration of how social media and cellphone technology have transformed the lives of today's young people—often in much more dramatic ways than today's adults might suspect. He is one of the most respected experts and entrepreneurs on issues related to children's media and education in the United States. 

RSVP Today!