The American Rescue Plan Act has recently made unprecedented investments into education, allocating federal dollars to build statewide capacity and provide students with devices and broadband access on- and off-campus. More than ever, there is the potential to ensure students are involved in active and engaging learning experiences transformed through technology, state policy and funding. In the upcoming post-pandemic era for learning, how can we ensure that states leverage newly invested digital tools to reinforce student competencies for lifelong success?
A topic of growing interest, some states are considering and investing in opportunities to sustain digital citizenship, defined in the ISTE Standards as the ability for students to “recognize the rights, responsibilities, and opportunities of living, learning and working in an interconnected digital world.” The Education Commission of the States finds that the majority of all states have introduced policies, via legislation or regulation, to promote digital citizenship. However, few have taken steps to codify digital citizenship in practice.
Three reflections from the past year show why states must not lose momentum:
1. Digital citizenship empowers students to engage with the most culturally relevant problems of today.
In the past year, we have observed numerous examples of technology used to raise awareness of ongoing social justice issues, which have led to significant policy shifts. At the same time, technology accelerated the sharing of misinformation about the pandemic. By helping students grow as digital citizens who use technology to facilitate the productive and equitable exchange of information and opportunity, rather than sow discord, we can empower them to engage with global challenges.
2. Digital citizenship takes advantage of active uses of technology.
Teachers note that one of the most significant challenges in the past year has been engaging students in the learning process. Digital citizenship allows students to engineer their own learning processes in two critical ways:
3. Digital citizenship provides a means to further engage the community in students’ learning.
One advantage of remote learning in the past year has been the increased involvement of parents and caregivers in students’ learning. Building on this momentum, some districts have begun exploring how to involve this broader, external community in students’ learning about digital citizenship and reinforce the competency from home.
How are some states leading?
Several states have recognized this imperative and have taken systemic action to promote digital citizenship. For example:
With these examples in mind, states can consider the following actions to ensure that digital citizenship becomes an area of focus in the post-pandemic era.
COVID-19 hit a reset button on education, helping leaders think about what is really important when it comes to setting students up for lifelong success. A focus on digital citizenship as a critical competency in a time where technology is integrated into virtually every part of public and private life must be a part of the rethink and redesign efforts involving stakeholders to identify needs and take first strides.