Post by Ben Capper
How we started and where we’re going
The DigCitInstitute is creating a new generation of change-makers. What started as a course evolved into a call for action, when a professor and two of her students started extending learning beyond the classroom.
That professor was Dr. Marialice B.F.X. Curran, and those two students were Nicholas Howley and Tracy Mercier.
Back in 2010, Nicholas and Tracy were both graduate students in the Educational Technology program at the University of Saint Joseph. Although they were never in the same course together, they both had the same professor and academic advisor. Marialice was known around campus as an innovative professor who personalized the learning objectives for each student. Although her syllabi only listed the outcomes; the students were empowered to design the assignments, due dates and projects. Nicholas and Tracy thrived in this learning environment and it should come as no surprise that this was just the beginning of three passionate people working together beyond a university campus.
Nine years later, this trio continues to work together to amplify student voice, through a community approach; with the aim of changing the narrative around how we interact with the online world.
How it all began
The DigCitSummit is one of the most obvious results of this work. From its humble beginnings at the iCitizenship Town Hall Meeting in 2012; to its cross continental reach in 2019, it’s fair to say that it has been a passion project, not just for the Institute, but also for educators, students, and organizations right across the world.
And like all great movements, it all started with an idea in class that was inspired by students.
Marialice went to visit Tracy’s third grade classroom and her students wanted to see if she was making socially responsible decisions online. It was the first time Marialice was aware of being Googled and that moment is part of the impetus behind this digital citizenship journey. As a result she credits Tracy and her third graders for changing her teaching practice.
And in turn, Tracy credits Marialice for inspiring her to bring technology into her classroom. But no matter which happened first, it made a significant change that propelled each of them to dedicate their time and practice to making a positive impact in the digital realm.
Around the same time, cyberbullying suicide stories were dominating the headlines. The story of one student in particular, Tyler Clementi really affected Marialice, “I was a new mother and I thought Tyler Clementi could be my son.”
“But no matter what, Tyler Clementi is a son, brother, grandson, friend, neighbor and most importantly, a human being. The “It Gets Better” campaign came out in full force to support students, but it made me think, what can I do right now to make things better for all students?
Nicholas was enrolled in Educational Psychology that semester with Marialice and as the saying goes, timing in life is everything. Nicholas uploaded his final project onto the It Gets Better website as a way to tell his own story and further support LGBTQ students.
Just like Tracy’s third graders, this moment further defined the collective reasons behind a professor and two of her graduate students beginning their digital citizenship journey together.
The iCitizen Project
By the fall semester of 2011 Marialice's students live-tweeted during class and connected with other classrooms and experts around the world. It was during this semester that she just happened to be online during a live stream ‘Stand up to Cyberbullying” event. With just one click, she was able to participate and thought, “This is amazing, we could do this on our campus.”
That semester, Marialice created and taught a First Year Seminar called, ‘Pleased to Tweet You: Are You a Socially Responsible Digital Citizen?’ for incoming freshmen at the University of Saint Joseph, “I knew the course would make an impact for the college freshmen, but I thought it could be even more meaningful if we connected with another class, so I blogged about it and asked if any other classrooms wanted to join us. Many responded, but Beth Sanders, a second year teacher at the time, made it happen with her high school juniors and joined us virtually from Birmingham, Alabama. Geography was not an issue since our classes met online and all of our connections were virtual. It was an opportunity to model the power of social media as a learning tool.”
The collaborative project was called the iCitizen Project and the students focused on humanizing the person next to them, around the world, and across the screen.
How the Summit began
Just like the elements of a perfect symphony, everything that happened during the fall of 2011 led to Marialice, Nicholas and Tracy, as well as Beth Sanders and her high school juniors being part of the live streamed event, the iCitizenship Town Hall Meeting in February 2012.
On stage were local experts, the college freshmen from the First Year Seminar course, Nicholas and other students. Behind the panel was a large screen where Beth and her high school juniors joined the conversation alongside the other experts on stage. It was a powerful moment where students were leading the change. For those students it was about “focusing on the action, and encouraging students to empower and inspire other students, with their words and actions, on and offline.”
Off stage was Tracy and other students who were live tweeting the event. Our town hall live stream generated over 800 tweets and was watched across the country, Canada, Australia and Jordan.
This was the first spark for Marialice, Nicholas and Tracy as they began to work with local, global and digital communities.
Tired of digital citizenship being an add on to bullying conferences, technology events, and to professional development opportunities, the first all digital citizenship conference happened in October 2015. The DigCitSummit was held on the same university campus where Marialice, Nicholas and Tracy began their digital citizenship journey together.
“Our college campus could only hold 200 people, but we live streamed, and that day we were the No 1 trending topic on Twitter. At that point we knew we’d struck a nerve. People were hungry for this new narrative about going from the reactive to the proactive, and we were learning together in a multi-stakeholder approach, including parents, teachers, students, business leaders thought leaders and tech organizations, so we could show that DigCit isn’t just something we do at school but something that we do at home, and at work.”
No Summit is the same as the next!
Nicholas, who is the DigCitInstitute’s Director of Operations and DigCitSummit Director explains why he’s still involved:
"I'm not an educator. I work in the non-profit world as a database manager, and at the time was enrolled in a masters program focused on education, technology, and counseling - I just felt a connection with the way Marialice taught and opened the classroom up for exploration. I was able to look through the classroom lens at myself and see myself in the curriculum - and also leverage technology in a way that augmented the curriculum, content, and learning experience. This is what initially set me down the path to where I am with the Institute and Summit today. “
In many ways, the Summit is structured like the coursework and syllabi Marialice created where each Summit is personalized to meet the needs of the particular community with an overall focus on a multi-stakeholder approach towards changing the narrative around technology and social media to move from being reactive to proactive. The overall goal of the Summit is for a community to learn together, side by side by having deliberate and meaningful conversations together. As Nicholas shared, “Each organizer knows their community best. So we work in collaboration with them in a supporting role.”
And it’s a model that works no matter the location, and the local priorities:
“No Summit is the same as the next. They really take on the flavor of the location, and the nature of the content that the organizers want to address.”
“Why not me?” All it takes is one person.
The Summit has since grown into a global phenomenon. But it’s still coordinated by our small team at the DigCitInstitute.
And all you need to do to get involved is to be passionate. As long as you have the interest, then you can lead a conversation in your school, area, country or even continent!
Marialice explains, “You don’t need to be an expert. You just need a willingness and a disposition to say ‘Why not me? What can I do to make a difference.’ All it takes is one person to stand up and speak up, and then one person becomes many.”
And it’s this collective approach that has made the Summit so meaningful, and so successful:
“This has been something that has been done collectively”, says Marialice.
“There wasn’t just one person. One opportunity might’ve inspired someone, but this is something that was done collectively as a result of a lot of moments all influencing each other, and that’s really powerful. Some people I’ve never even met have made this happen, but I’m proud to still be on this journey with Nicholas and Tracy.”
What the future holds for digital citizenship
We believe that by embracing digital citizenship, we have the opportunity to empower a new generation of radical change makers:
Tracy, our Chief Content Creator, sees a really bright future for today’s digital citizens as they become tomorrow’s digital leaders:
“I see this generation making radical change and putting faces to serious global issues that are going on - coming up with powerful solutions for crises that are affecting people all across the globe. It’s technology that’s going to really help them do that.”
As a Library Media Specialist, she sees student potential for changing the world every day. They have an eagerness to connect with others in a way that students five years ago didn’t have because of the technology available today. With that eagerness comes uncertainty and hesitation because they aren’t always quite sure what to do with it or the potential it holds.
“It’s about showing people that tech and social media is not something that needs to be feared. We can be proactive in helping young people use it and use it well.”
How you can get involved in 2019
We have some incredibly exciting plans and ideas for 2019. Marialice explains:
“In October during DigCitWeek, we’re hosting our 5th Annual DigCitSummit as a week-long virtual summit; which will be a great opportunity for classrooms to connect, and experience a live panel with speakers giving DigCitImpact Talks asking ‘What kind of impact are you making?’ They’ll be much like a TED or Ignite Talk to inspire people to make an impact in their own communities.”
With Summits already having taken place in the UK, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, and across the US and Canada, 2019 is shaping up to be an incredible year.
We are looking forward to working with more communities, including Lake Shore Central in upstate New York as we begin to focus on student-led DigCitSummits as part of our professional development packages for school communities to learn together in the classroom, at home and at work.
To find out more about upcoming Summits, or to inquire about hosting one at your school, get in touch with us at email@example.com and visit our website at digcitinstitute.com.
One of the positive consequences of continuously emergent tech is that it provides us with increasingly meaningful ways to integrate the use of technology into learning. The technology of 2019 provides us with opportunities to consume, curate, and create with an ease and interactivity that was not available in 2009. If, like many educators, you are still seeking ways to use technology in meaningful ways Digital Learning Day is the day to try new things!
Digital Access is one of the Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship and Digital Learning Day's mission is working to increase access to all students. According to the Digital Learning Day website, "Digital Learning Day was started as a way to actively spread innovative practices and ensure that all youth have access to high-quality digital learning opportunities no matter where they live." Digital Access isn't just about having wifi or devices, it is about providing students with engaging and authentic learning opportunities. Digital Learning Day is a dedicated opportunity to increase those opportunities for students.
With increasing demands placed on teachers through standards and assessments it can feel like integrating technology is another thing to add to the list. That is why we have chosen a few resources to share with you that will meet your current technology integration that meets a range in age, and supports the varied devices you may have in your classrooms and schools.
If you are new to using educational technology, Digital Learning Day's available lessons, resources, and tools are a great place to start. The tools they have shared meet the various types of media literacy; coding, presentation tools, and amplifying student that can be used in conjunction with math, literacy, science or social studies units.
If you are eager to dive into Digital Learning Day, but are limited on time to create and execute a lesson, our very own Chief Content Creator, Tracy Mercier has 20 - 30 minute lessons and 60 minute mini units. She also has resources like posters and anchor charts that invite your students to work independently and are inquiry driven.
If you are someone who is looking to integrate Augmented and Virtual Reality, Jaime Donnaly's website ARVRinEdu is the place to explore! She has suggestions for consuming and creating Augmented and Virtual Reality that will fit your current need and tools. She has also curated a YouTube playlist that will invite your students to swim with sharks, experience the Civil War, and go to the Grand Canyon.
DigCitKids is digital citizenship for kids by kids. DigCitKids solve real problems in local, global, and digital communities.
This book is a compilation of stories, starting with our own mother and son story, and shares examples from both parents and educators on how they embed digital citizenship at home and in the classroom. The stories highlight how learning together and talking with kids — not at kids — is something we all can do, every single day.
Contributingtwitter.com/iWomanish authors also include María Zabala from Spain, Jyoti Chopra from India, Mary Jalland from Scotland, Rachel Murat and Michael Drezek from New York, Jennifer Scheffer from Massachusetts, Claudio Zavala and Amy Storer from Texas, Mandy Froehlich from Wisconsin, JoAnn Jacobs from Hawaii, Oluwakemi Olurinola from Nigeria, Tracy Mercier from Connecticut, Eugenia Tamez from Mexico and Bronwyn Joyce from Australia.
Join us for official EduMatch book launch on Wednesday, February 6, 2019 at 12:45pm at the NetSupport booth #753.
The Digital Citizenship SDG Awards (#DigCitSDGAwards) just given for the first time at #DigCitSummitCM unite, celebrate, reward and support Cameroonian youths who have been using social media and technology to contribute to Sustainable Development Goals (#SDGs) and inspire positive change both on and offline. In partnership with Positive Youths Africa, the United Nations, Resource In Flow, Ltd and other organizations working for the SDGs, the DigCit SDG awards will inspire a generation of positive digital users solving real problems in local, global and digital communities.
For more information about the Digital Citizenship Institute and how to host a DigCitSummit in your community, visit digcitinstitute.com and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @digcitinstitute.
Our #DigCitCommunity around the world models no matter where you live, what language you speak, we are all #DigitalCitizens! Join us at http://digcitinstitute.com to learn more!
#WeAreAllHuman #DigitalCitizenship #DigCit #DigCitImpact #DigCitInstitute #DigCitSummit #DigCitKids #IAmADigitalCitizen
Immersive Technology and Digital Citizenship
This is the first post in our Immersive Technology Series as we explore emerging technologies in relationship to Digital Citizenship.
Growing up I thought George Jetson and his family were just a cartoon predicting the future. I never thought any of it would be possible in my lifetime, but as we all know, George Jetson and the future are already here.
Stepping into the present with the Jetson family, I have my Personal Learning Network (PLN) to thank for knowing the difference between Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Mixed Reality (MR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Today, we’ll be exploring 3DBear which combines both AR and 3D on their learning platform:
“3DBear AR is an innovative learning application that allows users to build Augmented Reality scenes using virtual 3D models and their surroundings. It adaptably allows educators to teach various content in any grade level and any subject using Augmented Reality, 3D-printing, and 21st-century skills. In addition to the app, our gamified lesson plans, class management tool and professional network are available to help teachers to integrate the technology effectively.”
Understanding Our DigCit Community Mindset
As I created in 3DBear, I experienced it through our DigCit Community Mindset. I wanted to see how this learning platform was accessible for all. I wanted to walk in the shoes of someone who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing. I wanted to create and consume from this perspective as a way to experience and humanize the person sitting next to us, around the world and across the screen.
3DBear had my full attention once I read their tag line, “empowering and engaging every student.” Couple that with this statement on their homepage and I knew our common denominator was all about providing opportunities for all students to experience the art of being human.
“Every child has special needs. Teach the way they learn. It’s not just about languages and math. It’s about growing as a human being.”
As I started to create, I began to think how would someone know what I was saying without closed captions? I decided to app smash 3DBears with Clips and this is the moment I knew I had a new favorite creation tool.
What surprised me the most was how easy 3DBear was to use. I was completely engaged in the creative process and was immediately aware of the multiple layers for students to think critically and act creatively. In the palm of my hand were Augmented Reality based lesson plans for PK-12, a community to share ideas and lessons, access to 3D models to bring into Augmented Reality and ample opportunities to put digital citizenship into action.
This leads me to question what other ways I could make my creation accessible for more people to be able to access and experience it? Twitter’s Help Center provides ways to make images accessible on Twitter and just like closed captions for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, these steps provide someone Blind or with Low Vision to access the visual. Instagram’s Info Center also has steps available to make Instagram more accessible.
How to Get Started with 3DBear?
Sign up for the FREE 3DBear Trial and start creating today!
Plus, get your students interested in coding with the 3DBear in the Mars Pioneer lesson as part of during the Hour of Code activities, The Hour of Code is a global movement reaching millions of students in 180+ countries and is available in over 45 languages and 3DBear has partnered with Thingiverse to provide a project-based learning module that teaches facts about Mars as students build a colony using AR with the option to 3D print the colony too.
Beyond the Hour of Code, 3DBear lessons also include materials for Social Emotional Skills (Grades 1-6), Create Your Mesozoic Park (Grades 7-9), My Novel Comes Alive (Grades 1-6), Recreate a Historical Scene (Grades 10-12), Redesign Your School (Grade 1-6), The World of Shapes (Grades 1-6) and Build a Castle Challenge (Grades 1-6).
This is a great tool for all students, so sign up today at https://3dbear.io/freetrial/ and be sure to include #DigCitAR in the trial form. Looking forward to learning and creating with you.
A recent survey stated 59% of U.S. teens have been bullied or harassed online and 90% of teens believe online harassment is a problem that is not being properly addressed by teachers, social media companies and politicians.
We believe students need teachers, social media companies and politicians to part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Imagine if more school communities like the Maine-Endwell School District in New York hosted a student-run DigCitSummit? Students, parents, teachers, administrators, local business and thought leaders and politicians could work together to actively change the narrative around technology and social media use. The Positively Social documentary was created to show at the Maine-Endwell DigCitSummit as a way to extend the conversation beyond the fear-based approach around tech and students.
Instead of focusing on ‘don’t do this,’ the Maine-Endwell school community is committed to students solving real problems in local, global and digital communities. Their positive approach reminds us that we need more opportunities for students to take the lead just like Natalie Hampton, the student app creator of Sit With Us which was inspired by her own bullying experience in middle school.
The inclusive focus on building a school community for everyone is exactly what our school communities need. To be recognized, included and celebrated is exactly what seventh and eighth grade students in Louisiana do every single day as they run a student company, the Upstander Brand to help students be Upstanders in their own communities. Another example is the League of Wingman, a student-led program for elementary, middle and high schools to inspire leadership, kindness, compassion and inclusion by changing climate and culture and creating a strong, resilient community. These examples highlight students at the center of this positive movement towards change.
Edtech software providers, like NetSupport, are also adding to the solution by incorporating internet safety features to address instances of bullying or harassment in their products. Having software in place, such as NetSupport DNA, helps identify bullying behind the screens through internet safety alerts and keyword monitoring which can be vital tools in proactively identifying students conducting inappropriate online activities or searching for information on worrying topics. Inappropriate keywords are displayed in a Word Cloud for easy viewing, allowing educators to see key issues at a glance to intervene and provide support. Taking it a step further with the “Report a Concern” tool, empowering students with the ability to safely and anonymously self-report any concerns to a trusted teacher or staff member ensuring student’s safety. Working together, educators, students, and edtech providers can help bridge the gap within schools encouraging positive digital citizenship skills to help maintain a safe learning environment.
Although these alarming statistics, sensational headlines and trends on Twitter and other social media feeds tell a story of gloom and doom which continues to feeds the fear and continues to add to the scare tactics. But teachers, edtech companies, parents and students are working towards building school communities where we work together to build positive school climate, mentor instead of just monitor and help students humanize the person sitting next to them, around the world and across the screen.
Created by Belinha De Abreu, Ph.D. for the Digital Citizenship Institute
So, what is digital citizenship?To us at the Digital Citizenship Institute, digital citizenship is about human connections online where participants are active citizens who are designers, creative thinkers, global collaborators, problem solvers, and justice-oriented digital citizens. We believe that digital citizenship needs to be an action, something we practice and do every single day. Ultimately, we believe that digital citizenship is about seeing and valuing the human being sitting next to us, around the world and across the screen.
Now, let’s think about the future — specifically the future of work. With emerging technologies — augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality, machine learning, artificial intelligence — our world is changing at such a rapid pace that we need to ask if we are preparing our students for their future?
Will our students be ready? It’s up to us to ensure they are DigCit Ready.
This is why, in today’s networked world, digital citizenship is everyone’s responsibility, it doesn’t matter what language you speak, where you live or what religion you practice — to us, digital citizenship is all about community. We believe digital citizenship is an opportunity to empower others to become changemakers in their own communities because once you make an impact in a local community, it has a ripple effect an influences both global and digital communities simultaneously.
Our mission and definition of digital citizenship came as a direct result of a collaborative student project called the iCitizen Project during the fall of 2011. The project happened as part of a First Year Seminar for incoming college freshmen at the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford, Connecticut. The course, Pleased to Tweet You: Are You a Socially Responsible Digital Citizen? is the beginning of our digital citizenship journey. Despite geography and different time zones, the college freshmen collaborated with high school juniors in Birmingham, Alabama through a variety of social media tools like Skype and Twitter to connect and learn together. The iCitizen Project defined citizenship in the 21st century as an active citizen instead of just a resident; an enabler of change and not just a bystander. The focus on local, global and digital communities emerged as the foundation for being an iCitizen in the 21st century.
The iCitizen Project focused on student voice and student choice. It was the impetus behind wanting to create the first ever digital citizenship conference, the Digital Citizenship Summit, or the DigCitSummit as it is most commonly called, as well as the Digital Citizenship Institute. Understanding that the iCitizen Project is at core of our foundation will help better explain our digital citizenship community model which we refer to as our DigCit Community.
We want to help communities look out through this new community lens of digital citizenship. Instead of seeing local, global and digital in isolation, we want you to see them as one entity. In this way, we are able to model how all it takes is one person to stand up, to speak up, to take action and make a difference. In our work, we have repeatedly seen how ONE becomes MANY because of the ripple effect of choices, words and actions.
Our DigCit Community Model prepares us to see the humanity in everything we do both on and offline, where we humanize the person sitting next to us, people around the world and across the screen. Although today’s headlines might remind us that we’ve lost the art of civil discourse, that we are more divided as a human race; it is our goal to change those sensational headlines with stories about our young people as leaders who inspire and awaken others to action. Just like the iCitizen Project, our DigCit Community Model or what we also call being #DigCitReady allows us to be active citizens in our local, global and digital communities.
You’ll notice that our DigCitSummit logo includes a person shaped to resemble the letter “i” as a connection to the iCitizen Project. In many ways, the “i” also is a reminder of our own choices, words and actions. This local, global and digital community lens is our way to view digital citizenship as a foundation built on being safe, savvy and ethical. Our ‘we not me’ focus continues to highlight our shared humanity where we are learning together side by side in school, at home and in the workplace.
Knowing the “i” in our DigCitSummit logo represents each of us, our DigCitSummits happen in communities all around the world. We unite organizations, educators, industry, parents and students to work towards solutions, promote best practices, and empower citizens to be the digital change.
In order to do this, we have identified four core dispositions necessary to support this #DigCitCommunity Mindset Model with four specific attributes: an Empathetic Mindset, an Entrepreneurial Mindset, an Inclusive Mindset and an Innovative Mindset.
We believe that our students need to lead with empathy because an Empathetic Mindset allows you to understand and share the feelings of another and to walk in their shoes. The next layer we add is an Entrepreneurial Mindset because an entrepreneur is someone who identifies a need, any need and fills it. Our students need an entrepreneurial opportunities every single day to be action driven and willing to collaborate deliberately and mindfully to be critical thinkers, creative problem solvers and who ultimately are transforming minds, hearts and attitudes by solving real problems in local, global and digital communities. Our next layer is focused on an inclusion where access for all, diversity and equality are at the heart. Applying the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework, an Inclusive Mindset gives all individuals equal opportunities to learn. It promotes personalized learning where all learners and all abilities are recognized, included and valued. UDL provides flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs in order for everyone to have access to the same learning opportunities. An Innovative Mindset is our last disposition needed for a DigCit Community Mindset because innovators are asking questions that haven’t been asked yet, they are the makers, the dreamers, the doers, the futurists who constantly think outside the box. Leading with an Innovative Mindset allows you to be filled with an insatiable sense of curiosity.
When you combine these four dispositions into one DigCit Community mindset, we focus on being DigCit Ready, on being proactive and highlight the importance of providing our students opportunities to be actively participating deliberately and meaningfully online, who know how to navigate the digital landscape and produce media not just consume it. This DigCit Community Mindset unites people who are mindful that their choices, words and actions matter deeply. Much like the Future Ready Framework, our DigCit Community model prepares citizens to be DigCit Ready at school, at home, and in the workplace.