Adults may think of students' online, mobile, and technological activities as "digital life" but to young people they are just life. The lessons in this unit are designed to harness students' enthusiasm, encouraging them to talk about the impact of digital media on their lives, their communities, and our culture. Students discuss the positive and negative aspects of digital life and are introduced to the concept of digital citizenship.
Students review their media habits and the array of media they use on a weekly basis, and then reflect on the role of digital media in their lives. They log the time they spend with different forms of digital media and create bar graphs that provide a snapshot of their digital media lives. For the Extension Activity, students make a photo story of their digital lives.
With Power Comes Responsibility
Students explore what it means to be responsible and respectful to their offline and online communities as a step towards becoming good digital citizens. Students reflect on what responsibilities and privileges come with being a citizen of a country or a member of a community offline. They then diagram their responsibilities in different spheres of online life to understand more about what it means to be a good digital citizen. For the Extension Activity, students create comic strips about how good digital citizens can harness the power of digital media to make the world a better place.
In a world in which everyone is connected and anything created can be copied, pasted, and sent to millions of people, it is important that students bring a sense of ethical responsibility to the online spaces where they consume, create, and share information. In this unit's lessons, students learn to manage their own privacy and respect the privacy of others.
Trillion Dollar Footprint
Students learn that they have a "digital footprint" and that the information that makes up this digital footprint can be searched; copied and passed on; seen by a large, invisible audience, and can be persistent. Students watch the Privacy Student Intro Video – The Digital Footprint to learn how information online can easily get out of one's control. They then examine the digital footprints of two fictional host applicants for a popular television show to learn how online information can affect how others view us and our future opportunities. For the Extension Activity, students design digital footprints for themselves 10 years into the future, and for homework they review the TV show host profiles and the major lesson takeaways with their parents.
Opps! I Broadcast It on the Internet
Students are introduced to the benefits of sharing information online and the potential risks of sharing inappropriate information. Students view the Privacy Student Video Vignette (Eva's Story for 6th, Brittney's story for 7-8) – a documentary-style story of a young girl who has posted information online that she later regrets. Students then discuss, role-play, and offer solutions to an online privacy dilemma with the goal of demonstrating their understanding of the possible consequences of inappropriate sharing (over-sharing). For the Extension Activity, students make their own videos modeled after the stories of Eva and Brittney.
Digital media provide countless ways for people to communicate and connect with others. The lessons in this unit explore the ethics of participating in and building positive online communities. Students also explore when community dynamics are upset because of cyberbullying and other damaging behaviors. The lessons explore the impact of students' individual actions – both negative and positive – on their friends and on the broader communities in which they participate.
Students will learn to assess people's intentions and the impact of their words and actions – both positive and negative – in online environments. Students learn about the benefits and drawbacks of online relationships by watching the Student Intro Video – Our Connected Culture. They are then introduced to a variety of scenarios about online relationships and physically chart each situation on an axis to identify how online communication can be helpful or hurtful (impact), and whether it might be intentional or unintentional (intent). For the Extension Activity, students make up their own Chart It scenarios, and for homework they plot Chart It scenarios with their parents.
Cyberbullying: Crossing the Line
Students learn to distinguish good-natured teasing from cyberbullying. Students learn about serious forms of cyberbullying, which include harassment, deception, "flaming," or threats to safety. They then watch the Connected Culture Student Video Vignette – a documentary-style story of a young person who has been involved in a cyberbullying situation – and discuss the video and related case studies. For the Extension Activity, students brainstorm ideas for an anonymous reporting system for cyberbullying.
Young people are creating and publishing their own writing, music, videos, and artwork. They live in a world where information is easily available to copy, paste, and remix. The lessons in this unit address students' rights and responsibilities about respecting creative work, as well as explore topics ranging from copyright to fair use. Students reflect on the ethics of using creative work from others, and they are encouraged to celebrate their role as 21st-century creative artists.
A Creator's Rights
Students learn about copyright, fair use, and their rights as 21st-century creators. They explore the copyright history of the “Happy Birthday” song and create an original happy birthday song of their own. They learn that giving and getting credit is a matter of respect.
A Creator's Responsibilities
Students reflect on their responsibilities as creators and users of creative work. They view the video vignettes of young people who have published their own creations online, and discuss the challenges of our "cut and paste" culture.