Growing Digital Citizens as We Grow Ourselves

Dear Teachers,

When teachers hear the term “digital citizenship”  and want to know more about that topic, they often begin with some kind of interest in addressing cyberbullying. Cyberbullying and other risks of the Internet – computer viruses, identity theft, phishing, etc. – are legitimate concerns, of course, and our students certainly need to be aware of these risks. For too long, though, classrooms across the country have been immersed in a digital citizenship narrative that is based only in fear and warnings. Digital citizenship is about so much more than just “not cyberbullying” or “not talking to strangers” or “being nice online.” Although those are certainly components of the topic, there is so much more to digital citizenship. Teachers who focus only on the “don’ts” of online behavior miss a host of opportunities for their students to claim their full rights – and responsibilities – of true digital citizenship.

Teachers are on a spectrum when it comes to digital citizenship instruction. Many teachers are still doing nothing at all to address digital citizenship – they have the “shut it down, lock it up” mentality. Perhaps they believe that if they don’t use social media in their classrooms or allow the students to bring in devices from home, then it’s not in their purview or responsibility to talk about digital citizenship. And with all that teachers have to do these days who can blame them for not wanting to do “one more thing”?

[click image to see infographic]
Moving along the spectrum of digital citizenship instruction, a common first step in addressing digital citizenship is often to host a school-wide “Digital Citizenship Day” or “No Cyberbullying!” week. These one-shot efforts are usually very well-intentioned and perhaps even get some good short-term behavior from students. Certainly better than doing nothing at all, these event-based digital citizenship efforts may allow teachers to feel as though they can check digital citizenship off a list; if, several months later, a student makes an egregious error on social media, the teacher can respond, “We told you about this at that assembly last fall.”

Once a teacher or a school decides to address digital citizenship in a more systematic way, they may decide to use pre-packaged lesson plans, such as the excellent materials by Common Sense Media. Maybe the librarian shows these videos in library lessons; maybe it’s the school counselor who does so, or a teacher who intends to do the lesson as an “extra.” A first foray into “teaching digital citizenship” often involves a stand-alone curriculum of some kind. These lessons give teachers a springboard for discussion in the future, but students typically do not absorb concepts of any subject when they are presented in isolation. Digital citizenship is in many ways like sex education: everybody hopes that someone else will do a really good job explaining it – and they hope that the kids “get it” with one explanation. This is unrealistic for so many reasons, and one that teachers would understand as preposterous if applied to any content area concept.

Teachers who are paying attention start to realize that the stand-alone, one-shot efforts they have been using to teach digital citizenship might not be the most effective method, and move along that spectrum of digital citizenship instruction. As years go by, more students have more access to devices or might be requesting more opportunities to use social media in the classroom. Teachers often evolve in their thinking to understand that while the specially designated days or weeks or the stand-alone lessons might be good in the short term – and are certainly much better than doing nothing at all – students need more than a very occasional lesson in order to fully understand and assimilate the many facets of good digital citizenship.

In order to truly learn digital citizenship, students have to DO it. They need many conversations over a lifetime about the importance of empathy. They need to be fully engaged in working with the teacher to set the class norms for digital behavior. Jason Ohler, a pioneer of the digital citizenship movement, is fond of saying that students who are given an opportunity to frame the system are much less likely to game the system. Teachers who involve even young students in the process of positive norm-setting from an early age – on a regular, natural, authentic basis – will normalize positive behavior online, rather than focusing only on the potential dangers (which students are likely to tune out anyway). Students need daily authentic experiences where the teachers both tacitly and explicitly weave a digital citizenship lesson into what the students are doing anyway. Layering digital citizenship into what teachers are doing in their classrooms anyway can make the thought of “doing one more thing” somewhat less overwhelming.

ISTE’s and Metiri’s (2017) new way of looking at the student Digital Citizen standard involves encouraging students to develop a great digital self, to be an effective interactor, and to be proactive agents who use the powers of social media for social good. Looked at in this light (which, by the way, is rooted in all the ISTE standards’ Digital Citizen indicators), it might be easier for teachers to see how these elements might be woven into the fabric of what they are doing in their classrooms. A Digital Self can be promoted every time an eportfolio is mentioned; the teacher could say one extra sentence about “making a good digital first impression.” Additionally, a digital self is rooted in the development of the empathy that is so crucial to the digital citizenship conversation.

Sameer Hinduja, a Twitter friend of mine whom I respect very much, says that students should be regularly involved in conversations about morals, ethics, empathy, and resilience. The first three, he says, should aim to create students with “sensitive hearts,” while the last helps students face and deal with the inevitable conflicts that they will face their entire lives, both online and off. This corresponds to Ohler’s (2017) admonitions to introduce character education that address the needs of digital youth. Incorporating character education in relation to technology and device use within a community context – rather than implying that students’ “real” digital lives can happen only outside school – will help develop each student’s digital self in a positive way.

The Digital Interactor develops when students – even young ones – post and respond to the class social media account or respond to another student’s blog post. It takes very little time in a teacher’s day to remind students of the class norms they’ve established for interacting online, but every sentence or phrase that teachers say becomes  a micro digital citizenship lesson. With young students, this might simply involve the teacher complimenting students on their digital communication or the basic courtesy that they use when accessing the class social media account. For older students it could be a discussion about potentially different cultural norms prior to the students engaging in a video conference with a class from another country. If students DON’T interact appropriately, the teacher can use that behavior as a teachable moment and an opportunity to engage students in conversation about more acceptable alternatives, rather than just being reactive and cutting students off from future opportunities.  

Students of any age can be challenged to solve social problems of many types, using social media and crowdsourced suggestions to be Digital Agents for good in the world. Teachers who use project- or problem- based learning experiences in their classroom have a natural avenue to talk about students’ agency and the power of the Internet to help people accomplish amazing things. Connecting students to their passions and encouraging them to claim a social justice issue that is important to them supports their agency – and will very likely change the world. Additionally, teachers who help students to understand the implications of their social media use and bridge the gaps in their knowledge can help to level the playing field for students who might not have tech-savvy role models at home (Casa-Todd, 2017).

These three pillars – self, interactor, and agent – create a much more positive framework for addressing digital citizenship. Instead of a narrative of avoidance, fear and risk, imagine what might happen if every teacher in every classroom every day focused the digital citizenship message on opportunity and empowerment, not as “extra” thing but as a natural part of the thing. Imagine what might happen if every student heard these lessons about digital citizenship – not only about “being a good person” both online and off, but also about the duties and obligations of citizenship – every single day throughout the course of their school career! We need to show students what to do, not just continually tell them what not to do. We might have to get a little sneaky about digital citizenship, making it such a seamless part of our classroom that it is as ubiquitous as the air around us. Breathing in that message over and over again, as part of the natural context of what is happening in the classroom anyway, is what will mold our students into the digital citizens that we hope they become.

There is room in this conversation about digital citizenship for everyone, but many voices are currently missing or underrepresented: people of color, parents of all backgrounds, administrators, and especially the students themselves. All are digital citizens! Student voice is an incredibly important and powerful one, and unfortunately is often ignored. Teachers need to listen to students about their experiences online, ask questions, and use student’s knowledge of the mechanics of social media tools. Teachers have much to learn from students – and teachers have the maturity and life experience that students need to guide them in mentoring relationships in digital spaces. Educators also need to engage parents in discussions about digital citizenship on a regular basis, too, opening the door to conversations about their values and expectations for their child’s device use. Parents, too, are on a spectrum regarding their understanding of digital citizenship. They often have many questions about how to help their children use devices appropriately, and they need to be invited to participate in discussions and to join teachers on their digital citizenship journeys.

Few people can be considered true “experts” on the topic of digital citizenship, as it is such an evolving and far-reaching topic. The journey to fully understanding digital citizenship is not a linear one, and in today’s society touches literally everything that a student might be involved in. It is often uncomfortable and scary to change one’s teaching methods to include anything new or different. But if every teacher in every classroom were to mention a concept of digital citizenship just one time every day, that would make a lifetime of difference for our students – and the world.




Dear Teachers,

Confession time: I have a teensy little iPhone addiction problem. There is something about that screen that calls my name all day (and sometimes in the middle of the night). Whether it’s quickly scanning Twitter, seeing how hot it’s going to be today, checking email, or playing a couple of dumb games, I often have a hard time ignoring my screen. I’ve played one Sudoku game hundreds of times now, always selecting the “Medium” difficulty level. And I challenge myself not to make any wrong guesses: to not make too many assumptions about what the number might be. So often, I don’t have complete information, and I make the wrong assumption, leading to a (gasp!) red number in the square, which indicates it’s womp-womp wrong.

And I do that in real life too. I make a lot of assumptions based on incomplete information. That happened to me again this past week. A set of circumstances led me to believe that something was one way, and I began to get “in a snit” (as my mother would say) about it. And then one conversation completely turned my prior assumptions upside down.

It reminded me of one of my favorite TED Talks, On Being Wrong. The speaker, Kathryn Schulz, says that feeling of being wrong feels exactly like the feeling of being right: it’s only when you realize you’re wrong that it feels icky. She says that most of the time, we have “error blindness” – meaning that we don’t have internal cues to tell us when we’re wrong about something. It takes having another conversation, or eavesdropping on someone else’s perspective, or getting some other missing piece of the story before we can say, “Oh… I didn’t know that. That changes everything.” Maybe it doesn’t exactly change “everything,” but with a little luck, at the very least it might change us. (And when I say “us,” in this case I actually mean “me.”)  Even a small extra piece of information often catalyzes my empathy, and I can look at something in a completely different way. I’m happy that this past week, one conversation did that for me.

But we have to be willing and able to add the new information to our mental models, and be self-aware enough to maybe change what we think. We humans seem to be awfully heavy these days on the moral certitude and righteous indignation. I get kinda tired of it, honestly – except when I’m the one doing it, I guess.

In the TED talk, Schulz said that she once interviewed Ira Glass, the producer of NPR’s “This American Life.” She said she had noticed a trend in his podcasts, that the show was all about people who ended up being wrong about something. Ira confirmed that that is often a theme. “I thought this one thing was gonna happen, and something else happened instead” makes a good story, it turns out. I thought I’d be a stay-home mom and be celebrating 33 years of marriage this year, but something else happened instead. I thought I’d go to the grocery store last weekend, but something else happened instead (the ER visit is a whole other blog post). This week, I thought I needed to be mad at someone, but something else happened instead.

At the 2017 ISTE conference in San Antonio, Jennie Magiera urged teachers to consider untold stories over a single story. We all create narratives for ourselves and others, sometimes intentionally but most often unwittingly. There are always so many more untold stories in a given circumstance than the single story we create for ourselves. I would challenge you this week to examine the stories you might tell yourself about what’s happening in your life, and to maybe look at things a little more deeply. How might saying “but maybe I’m wrong” help you in your relationships? What untold stories might help you change your perspective? Be willing to be humbled by your inaccurate assumptions this week. Turns out, discovering I was wrong wasn’t so bad after all.



The Intersection of Technology and Humanity

Dear Teachers,

One of the things I most love about being a connected educator is getting to know some really smart people who I would likely never meet in real life. I especially love when I see a particularly smart social media post that really makes me stop and think. Recently that post was one from my brilliant first-on-Twitter-and-now-IRL friend Dr. Kristen Mattson:

Screenshot 2018-07-13 at 3.37.40 PM

I have thought and written about how the “#digcit conversation” has evolved over time, and the process many of us go through when we first start thinking about the term. When I first became aware of the concept many years ago, the focus (at least for me) WAS on Internet safety and preventing cyberbullying. A lot of people I know start their journey into a deeper understanding of digital citizenship in just that way. (I’ve described a typical evolution at this infographic.)

The part of Dr. Mattson’s tweet above that has grabbed me and won’t let me go is “…wrestle with the important ethical questions at the intersection of technology and humanity.” That is some beautiful language right there, and it begs the question: what ARE some of those ethical questions at the intersection of technology and humanity? That is what I have been pondering the past several days. I’ve come up with three major ones for this blog post; more may be coming as I continue to think about this important question.

  1. Many adults seem to lament that “kids these days don’t know how to have a real relationship,” but I would submit that informed and empathetic digital citizens are all about relationships. I’ve seen first hand how the digital relationships that we create can often be just as rich and satisfying as ones cultivated through more traditional means, and for our students, there is often not a line between digital and “real life.” Because for them, digital IS real-life. At the same time, I have observed no small number of people who scroll through their phones absent-mindedly even though actual people are right in front of them, longing for some conversation and connection. Talk to your students about the ways that the digital world can both unite and divide us. Also, we could use a lot more civility in many of our online spaces, so while you’re at it – please mentor your students in how to disagree without being disagreeable.
  2. Informed and empathetic digital citizens develop “digital soft skills” along with the technical skills they need when they go online. I love this blog post by Dr. Josie Ahlquist, where she discusses some soft skills that every incoming college freshman needs. As someone who admits to a HUGE problem with digital focus (my team teases me relentlessly about the number of tabs I have open at any given time), I try to imagine what it would be like to be a NINE YEAR OLD and have to manage the amount of distraction that came my way every day! Kids that age have always been impulsive. They’ve always wanted to look at naughty pictures. They’ve always been bad at anticipating consequences of their actions. We need to talk to our students about online decision-making, digital focus, and the necessity of empathy, just as we would talk to them about cutting in line, scribbling on someone else’s paper, or blurting out inappropriate comments. Sometimes teachers forget the value of a good conversation if the topic happens to involve technology.
  3. Informed digital citizens fact-check EVERYTHING. In today’s era of “fake news,” indiscriminate forwards of urban legends, and easily manipulated images and videos, it is crucial to the survival of our democracy that students understand how information – and misinformation – is disseminated. All of us must know how to scrupulously fact-check, carefully examine our own filter bubbles and possible confirmation bias, and commit to careful and honest reflection about the quality of our own posts.

leeann tweet

And this doesn’t even begin to address much brainier ethical considerations that technology provides: artificial intelligence, 24/7 surveillance, cyber security, preventing identity theft, and on and on. What are your thoughts? Where do you see “ ethical questions at the intersection of technology and humanity”? I am still pondering this meaty question, and I think it behooves all of us digital citizens to do the same.




For further reading:

The Many Ethical Implications of Emerging Technologies – Scientific American, 3.13.15

Tech’s Ethical Dark Side: Harvard, Stanford and Others Want to Address It – New York Times, 2.12.18


It’s Time to #DigCitCommit

Dear Teachers,

The ISTE 2018 conference is now a fading memory. It’s always such a great experience to connect with other like-minded educators, overwhelming as it is. (Read about ISTE 2018 by the numbers here.) As you might expect, I spent no small amount of time talking #digcit with my nerdy friends from far and wide. We were all so excited that Richard Culatta, ISTE CEO, specifically called out the importance for all educators to address digital citizenship. He spent about 20 minutes in his pre-opening-keynote address urging all of us to commit to teaching our students to build more positive online communities, to engage in online disagreements respectfully, to work to change public policy, and to critically assess the validity of online resources. That is a tall order!

But as I always say, it doesn’t all have to happen at once; it just takes all of us on the same page, actively working toward these goals. My mantra is “Every Teacher, Every Classroom, Every Day” – meaning that if every teacher in every school across America and the world would make just one reference a day to some aspect of digital citizenship, we could make significant positive changes to our online spaces. But I’ve also been thinking lately that digital citizenship efforts are a lot like my yoga practice: even though I *intend* to go to yoga class 5 days a week, if I go even ONCE a week, I feel better. So if you miss an opportunity to preach a good word for #digcit one day – don’t give up and just go back to your old habits! This week maybe you’ll say just one thing; next week perhaps it will be two or three. The more you do it, the easier and more natural it will feel (also like yoga), and saying SOMETHING about #digcit is better than saying nothing at all! The point is: COMMIT to making a concerted effort to encourage your students to have the best possible citizenship, both online and in their face-to-face interactions. For most of our students, there is not a hard line between digital and real life.

digcitcommit tweets

I was so gratified to see how the digcit conversation continues to expand. The DigCitPLN meeting had a whopping *31* people in attendance! I loved hearing how important #digcit is to each person who attended the meeting. My tenure as co-chair of ISTE’s DigCitPLN is over, and I’m pleased to be turning it over to the exceedingly brilliant and competent Lauren Villaluz and Vanessa Monterosa. I can’t wait to see how the concept of digital citizenship continues to evolve over the next year!

If you’re looking for #digcit resources to help you get started, you might start with #ISTE18 – My Top Takeaways by Gail Desler, the winner of the DigCitPLN’s inaugural PLN award. And check out my growing, curated list of all things #DigCit at my Cultivating a #DigCit State of Mind site.

What will YOU commit to doing this year to grow great digital citizens in your classroom? We can’t continue to NOT act on this: the future of democracy truly depends on our students’ citizenship – digital and otherwise.



What Are You Reading?

Dear Teachers,

As a former librarian (and you know I always say I’m forever a librarian in my heart!), I’m always curious about what people are reading. I’ve been known to start a conversation in airports with strangers who are reading, particularly if that book happens to be one I’ve read. I’ve gotten lots of suggestions over the years for books to try because of books that people might be holding in their hands; I’ve even made a couple of good friends from striking up conversations about books that were read at the pool or in a restaurant.

Recommendations of books are so important; that’s what most good reading teachers do for kids – right? We read constantly so that we can talk about books and motivate kids to read them too. Students are much more likely to read a book that a teacher or peer has recommended. And adults are the same way! While I love to look over the New York Times Best Books list, I’m significantly more inclined to read a book if a friend tells me about it and tells me what they liked about it.

51k2SdxarJLTwo books about digital citizenship come to mind when I think of books that I want others to read! Social LEADia: Moving Students from Digital Citizenship to Digital Leadership by Jennifer Casa-Todd is the first one. This book is full of examples of kids doing amazing things with social media, and how those kids claim their roles as digital leaders when given the opportunity to do so. In providing these examples and framing the #digcit conversation in a positive light, Casa-Todd gives many specific examples of how schools can provide opportunities for digital leadership.

productimageThe second #digcit book I can’t recommend highly enough is Dr. Kristen Mattson’s Digital Citizenship in Action. Dr. Mattson stresses the importance of modeling & mentoring students in digital spaces, and providing lots of opportunities for students to engage in online spaces. Mattson covers big ideas like the roles that people play in digital communities, the skills that students will need in order to be able to make meaningful contributions on social media, and the importance of providing authentic opportunities for students to participate in online spaces. And she does so in six easy-to-digest chapters that feature real-life examples and lots of encouragement.

Jennifer and Kristen are two of the smartest voices in digital citizenship today, and both books are, in my opinion, required reading if you want to grow your own thinking about what digital citizenship means. I encourage you to add both books to your summer reading list.

And because, as I mentioned above, people are more likely to read books that have been recommended, I’d like to ask you what YOUR recommendations are. One of my contacts at ISTE has asked for educators to write book reviews on Amazon. If you are so inclined, it would be terrific if you could respond to their request:

We’d love to hear what you, our readers, think of our books! Please consider sharing your thoughts with us and the community.

Your feedback helps ISTE create the best possible resources for teaching and learning in the digital age, and we take your feedback seriously. With this in mind, we are reaching out to ask if you would be willing to post a book review on We welcome honest comments about our product quality so we can continue publishing the kind of books you want to read.

If you need an ebook or print copy of the book for your review, please let us know.

–From the ISTE Books Team, 

Here’s a link to ISTE’s books page, which includes all their current and forthcoming titles: I know there are hundreds of worthy books out there, but if you find one that makes a difference to you and your teaching practice, share your thoughts about it with others who might benefit from your review!

I wish you, dear teachers, a wonderful summer of reading and recharging.





Getting Ready for ETSI 2018!

Dear Teachers,

It’s my favorite time of year again: the time when I plan with my awesome team to develop our district’s annual Ed Tech Success Initiative (ETSI) professional learning experience. Each year, we tweak and modify ETSI, and I have to say, I think each year it gets better and better. I’m proud of the fact that we have a huge waiting list again this year, and I’m excited to help shape the event.

ETSI collage2

Over the course of the past school year, our district has gone 1:1 with Chromebooks, and we are designing ETSI this year to focus on digital citizenship and the pedagogical changes necessary when working in a 1:1 environment. As always, we will focus on ISTE Standards and use the SAMR and TPACK reflection tools as we encourage our educators to think more deeply about their technology integration decisions.

Our essential questions for ETSI 2018 are:

  • How do I become an effective advocate for digital citizenship?
  • How does my pedagogy need to change in a 1:1 environment?
  • How can I leverage technology to truly transform learning experiences for students?
  • What is a “digital citizen” and why is that term important?
  • What do I need to do to ensure that students are empowered digital learners?

Once again, we are putting together the kind of PD that I would like to participate in! No sit and get allowed – there is a lot of conversation and hands-on activities planned as we try to model the kinds of experiences we want our teachers to be facilitating in their classrooms. I can’t wait to see how ETSI 2018 impacts our classrooms and learners! I’ll keep you posted.



Accurate Reflections

Dear Teachers,

Have you seen the recent reports about how selfies distort your face and make your nose look bigger? “Researchers now are cautioning that patients interested in cosmetic procedures should not turn to self-photographs as guidance when considering making changes to their faces,” says a recent CNN article. Even before selfies, I noticed a tendency in almost everyone I know to look at a photo and zoom in to identify our own flaws to the exclusion of anything positive in the frame. (My right eye, seriously, IS a lot squintier than my left, by the way.) And so there is now some evidence to suggest that a look at our own selfie pictures is creating even more opportunities for self-criticism, leading more of us to undergo elective SURGERY. Crazy, right?


I’ve been reading lately about the value of reflecting to help us improve our teaching practice, and I couldn’t help but see the parallels between the distorted selfie pictures and the way my own reflecting usually goes. I am all for productive reflection. For example, I bet that if you are a secondary teacher, you usually feel like the 5th period’s lesson is significantly better than the one you tried in 1st period. That’s because you thought about what could have gone better, realized where and how you needed to be more clear, and made adjustments based on those reflections. A few days ago, I was tweaking a presentation just minutes before I was about to begin it. The teacher near me observed what I was doing and said, “Yep, that’s being a teacher.” I guess most educators are just built that way. Productive reflection that helps us improve our lesson delivery is a good thing, of course.

But sometimes I feel like my self-reflection goes too far, or at least it goes too far in the wrong direction. I find myself reflecting about things I am long past being able to control or change. You may know what I’m talking about: that kid I wish I’d been a little nicer to. The parent conference from early in my career where I surely offended someone with my know-it-all suggestions. A horrifying memory of the way I spoke to a co-worker. The endless litany of the ways I screwed up as a mother, and the crushing knowledge that there are no do-overs.

It’s like there is a very accomplished chorus of Mean Girls in my head, eager to point out to me every shortcoming and flaw I’ve ever had and every regrettable thing I’ve ever said or done. And I not only listen to them, I seem to invite them in and then turn up the volume. If only I hadn’t been so strict and controlling. If only I had listened more. If only I had acted with just a little more love & compassion. If only I had been less harsh and more helpful; less critical and more compassionate.  If only…if only…if only…

“You can be forgiven for not being perfect” is something I read a few weeks ago, and I’ve been trying to remember to say this to myself when my brain goes on autopilot to all the memories I harbor where I wish I’d behaved differently. I’m often much quicker to forgive others – or to encourage others to forgive themselves – than I am to forgive my own flaws.

I’m guessing that you’d be surprised at how routinely I torture myself with these “wish I had” and “should have done” memories. I’m assuming that I don’t look nearly as obsessive and flawed from the outside. So I gotta wonder, do any of you do this, too? Like me, are your selfie memories maybe a little distorted?  Because just so you know, from my perspective, you all look great. From my vantage point, your nose looks just fine, and you are beautiful.




How We Grow into a #DigCitStateofMind

Dear Teachers,

I’ve been thinking, as I so often do, about how my thinking about Digital Citizenship has evolved over time. I’ve noticed some patterns and similarities in the way that I and many other educators have grown in our understanding.

So I cooked up this infographic to try to to describe what I’ve observed. I am hoping it might encourage educators and education stakeholders to grow into more sophisticated ways of thinking about digital citizenship.


[Click image to open infographic in a new window.]
How does this description of stages compare to what you’ve observed? I would love your thoughts about your experiences. Please comment, if you like, to help me improve this infographic.





Adding to My Nerdiness…

Dear Teachers,

I was invited to be a guest on Region 10’s Digital Radio Learning podcast. Let my 15 minutes of fame commence!
Region10podcastimagePhoto credit: Region 10 Digital Learning Radio.
Podcast available at at 

A quick recap of what we discussed:

  • The terrific Master of Education in Digital Learning and Leading program at Lamar University, and the #COVA model which you can read about here and here.
  • How #COVA led me to create CLICK, a website of student-created technology tips (my baby, and the project that got me to the Google Innovator Academy in London)
  • How CLICK relates to digital citizenship
  • My additional thoughts on digital citizenship, including a shoutout to ISTE’s new three-pronged framework that empowers digital learners to develop as Digital Self, Interactor, and Agent

Finally, if you really haven’t gotten enough of me and that #digcit thing, you can check out the ISTE Professional Learning Series webinar that I did with my buddy Julie Paddock recently – the title was Digital Empowerment: Everyone as a Digital Leader.

Hope to see you at TCEA! You could visit my poster session on Cultivating a #DigCit State of Mind on Monday and also drop by our DigCit Meetup on Thursday!



#DigCit Nerd Heaven!

Dear Teachers,

It is dreary out as I write this: cold, cloudy, and threatening rain. The perfect day to stay indoors in front of a fire, with a blankie, a good book, and cup of something hot. Which is what I had every intention of doing, until I started thinking about all the cool things coming up in my little corner of the Digital Citizenship world. I tell you, it takes somebody really nerdy to feel so ENERGIZED about this topic. What is that old saying again? “It’s better to keep quiet and have everyone think you’re a #digcit nerd than to write a blog post and remove all doubt”? Or something like that…

Anyway, I know there are a few of you out there who share my passion for this topic and understand its importance. My district is in the process of going one-to-one with Chromebooks, and I know that it is non-negotiable that we get all teachers on board understanding digital citizenship principles and how to put those principles into practice. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities coming up for those who are just beginning to get curious and for those who are already passionate about the topic like I am.

If you are an ISTE member, one thing you can do between now and January 26 is to vote for a proposal that Julie Paddock and I have submitted to the first-ever People’s Choice session selection. We were so appreciative of the positive feedback we received at our session last year, and as PLN leaders, she and I feel that we definitely have something to contribute on this topic. This year, our proposed session is titled Digital Empowerment: Everyone as a Digital Leader. Thanks in advance if you could head over to that link and give our session a quick click!

The next event on the #digcit lineup is the @DigCitPLN’s monthly Twitter chat. The chat will happen on January 18 at 6pm PT/ 8pm CT/ 9pm ET, and this month’s topic is “Building a Positive School Culture Through Community Initiatives and Honest Conversations,” led by Kevin Rokuskie and friends. I hope you can tune in and join us.

At the end of the month, Julie Paddock and I will deliver a webinar through ISTE’s Professional Learning series. Our topic will be a preview of what we hope to present at ISTE in June. We hope you will register and tune in on Wednesday January 31 at 4pm PT/ 6pm CT/ 7pm ET. We’ll have some good tips for you on Digital Empowerment and ways to become a digital leader. No matter where you are on your #digcit journey, we hope you’ll find something useful to take away (and it’s only a half hour long).


Right after our webinar, there’s a couple of things I’m REALLY excited about: two events at the annual TCEA convention in Austin. First, I’ll be doing a poster session on “Cultivating a #DigCit State of Mind” on Monday, February 5th from 3:00-5:00 pm. I’ll have lots of ideas and suggestions for how you can weave digital citizenship into what you’re already doing, and you’ll have a chance to contribute to a collection of resources, too! Then on Thursday, February 8, there will be a first-ever #DigCit Meetup at 4:45 in Room 11AB. This will be a chance to meet other like-minded teachers and discuss ways to move the #digcit conversation forward. Click here to let me know what you’d be interested in seeing at the #DigCit Meetup – I’m so looking forward to getting to know some of my fellow nerds!