How to Teach Students About Digital Identity

When I was in the classroom, I worked hard to integrate social learning into the day as often as possible. Many teachers claim that they understand the importance of social learning, and that they teach and practice social skills with their students throughout the day. Today, there is a new layer of teaching that must occur in the classroom (and at home) and it surrounds the idea of social learning that occurs when students use technology, or more specifically, the Internet. Although it may feel uncomfortable for teachers and parents who are not tech savvy, it is quite necessary. Digital learning is becoming…or has become social. We MUST teach students how to find their digital identity, and to be responsible digital citizens.

Resource #1: I must give credit to Jac de Haan ( and Ted Kalmus (Head of School, Billings Middle School)  for opening my eyes to this issue and putting words to what I had been thinking for a long time during their session at SxSWedu: TheirSpace: Educating Digitally Ethical Teens. Jac’s blog TechWithIntent is a great resource for learning more about tech integration in the classroom, and I especially enjoy checking out his teacher profiles to see what other teachers are doing in their classrooms. Check out their presentation here.

Resource #2: I’ve been following Common Sense Media for awhile now and I am quite impressed by their Digital Literacy and Citizenship Classroom Curriculum. What excites me the most is the fact that Common Sense Media is making this aspect of learning and making it just as important as literacy and math. The curriculum even has a Common Core Standard Alignment Chart. The following definition comes from the FAQ page at CommonSenseMedia. It has helped me to better understand the ideas behind digital citizenship and responsibility.

“Digital Citizenship is a relatively new term and concept that is being used by educators, policymakers, and thought leaders alike. It refers to the set of skills and behaviors that one must learn to be a safe, responsible, and respectful member of our 21st century society online. Common Sense Media defines a “digital citizen” as: Someone who is able to think critically about the ethical opportunities and challenges of the ‘digital world’ and makes safe, responsible, respectful choices. Our mantra: With these powerful technological tools comes great responsibility.” (CommonSenseMedia)

Resource #3: My latest resource is Digital Disruption, a project that I am most excited about! Digital Disruption is a project by Bold Creative and is based in London. This team is taking our youth seriously, and as an educator I really appreciate that. The voice of our youth is underrepresented in many of the conversations we are having in education today, but for Digital Disruption, the voices of our youth are at the center of the conversation. Teachers are also very much a part of the development of Digital Disruption and the team is always looking for more teacher feedback.

Digital Disruption’s mission is to provide young people with the tools they need to improve their “digital judgement.”  According to Digital Disruption, young people “trust and use the Internet more than any other generation, but are not always savvy, critical consumers of online content” (Taken from Digital Disruption’s site.) The project aims to support our youth in becoming better able to tell the good information from the bad and to distinguish fact from fiction.

For more information on Digital Disruption, check out their site and read this review on EdGeeks.

What resources do you know of that can help us all become more knowledgeable about why and how to teach social learning in the digital age?


Comments (7)

  1. Much needed information. Great post, Marisa and good links for the resources. Thanks for sharing. – Wanda

    • Thanks for reading Wanda, so glad the resources were helpful!

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