What Can We Learn?
About Common Sense Media
Made up of a group of independent writers, media specialists, journalists and parents, Common Sense Media offers plenty of resources promoting responsible media use. You can find free lesson plans, videos and other resources for students, parents and teachers. They also review movies, apps, games, websites and other products to determine both quality and age-appropriateness. They are aligned with no companies or sponsors that create a conflict of interest.
Common Sense Media has a clear code of 10 values, including the belief that “the price for free and open media is a bit of extra homework for families". They have a library of over twenty videos dedicated strictly to digital citizenship. Many include children relating opinions and experiences about their digital world. Topics include self-image, gender differences, gossip, drama and cyber-bullying.
In one video, students debate whether or not they are extra nice or extra mean online. One boy notes that anyone posting a picture of themselves is always trying to prove something: that they're cool, popular, funny or sexy. No online communication is indifferent or unbiased.
Their lessons are organized in a “Scope and Sequence" format. Educators can easily scan through to find the right topic for the right grade level. Each unit has follow up questions and quizzes to gauge student learning. Common Sense provides toolkits for each lesson, combining posters, videos, activities and outreach materials for parents.
Common Sense has a suite of games, activities and videos called Digital Passport. This program is built for students in grades 3-5. It guides each individual through the process of becoming an informed and responsible digital citizen.
High school and university teacher Mike Ribble built this website. The articles and other resources on the site are the products of his three year dissertation project. He writes primarily to aid students, but his concepts are useful for anyone who uses technology.
He links to sections of his books Digital Citizenship in Schools and Raising a Digital Child. He also includes articles from other sources, including the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).
Ribble organizes his teachings along nine themes: digital access, commerce, communication, literacy, etiquette, law, rights & responsibilities, health & wellness and security.
His views on digital access are intriguing. Not only do we need to be good citizens while online, but respect the fact that not everyone has constant access. Social and economic forces may severely limit a person's ability to participate digitally. Not only should we not alienate them for it, we should strive to make access universal.
Ribble's opinions on health and wellness are things many people often ignore: eye safety, ergonomics, repetitive stress plus the physical and psychological effects of internet addiction.