Saturday, December 29, 2018

Common Sense Education - A One-Stop Shop for Digital Literacy for Parents, Educators and Organizations

Common Sense Education is a non-profit organization with a mission to help us all understand our relationship with the daily bombardment of media in our lives. As the website is chock-full of ideas and resources this post is a mere drop-in-the-bucket overview of the learning available at Common Sense Education. For parents, schools, organizations and individuals this is a bottomless pit of knowledge.

We’ll approach it with an overview of resources in each of the tabs. Also have a look at the wealth of videos on the Common Sense YouTube channel that provides tips and tools for educators. (and don’t forget the Donate button in the top right!)

At the top left you’ll find three tabs, For Parents, For Educators, and For Advocates. For Parents will take you to TV & Movies, Books, Apps and Games, and Advice for Parents. These include reviews and the Common Sense approval seal for honorable mentions. Teachers can find resources for promoting Digital Citizenship, positive Educational Technology, as well as professional development. The For Advocates tab will provide you with resources, and news that with help educators (and their students) to take action for positive and healthy engagement with media. This is all grounded in research that demonstrates the level of effort Common Sense is putting into giving users the most up-to-date information on how we engage with media.


There are other tabs in the banner dedicated to educators.

Digital Citizenship provides lessons for teachers, games and interactive tools for kids, resources for engaging parents and downloadable classroom posters. There are tutorials for curriculum content, as well as toolkits for: Social & Emotional Learning, News & Media Literacy, Digital Citizenship, Internet Safety, Anti-Cyberbullying, and Gender and Digital Life.

EdTech Reviews & Resources has a wealth of resources in the recommended apps and edtech tools, teacher-created lesson plans, as well as tips for teachers using technology in the classroom. There is also a video library about digital tools, best teaching practices, and technology integration.

Professional Development includes a one-hour tutorial on Common Sense Digital Citizenship curriculum, and the Common Sense Educator program. Both provide a certificate upon completion. There is a commitment to become a Common Sense Educator, which opens you up to the Common Sense community. The deadline for 2019 is June 30, so get started. You’ll also find monthly webinars, expert advice, a video library, and case studies of schools successfully implementing digital citizenship programs.

Recognition & Community recognizes individual educators, schools, and entire districts for efforts towards “lead[ing] responsible and effective tech use in your school communities and build your practice along the way.” There is information on the Common Sense Ambassador program and how to become one.

The Common Sense Privacy Initiative is a “coordinated effort to evaluate edtech tools, protect student privacy, and build in safety and security from the start.” It’s better said from the Common Sense website:
  • Privacy Evaluations - Common Sense evaluates popular edtech apps using a broad range of legal requirements and best practices for data privacy. We focus on the core concerns of safety, privacy, security, and compliance.
  • Information Security Primer - Great for district and school technology leaders, this toolkit is for those looking to learn more about evaluating the information security practices of educational software.
  • Privacy Questions - Make sense of a vendor's terms of service with this question set that helps educators and administrators come to decisions based on their specific school and district policies.

As a final word, I highly recommend technology coaches and administrators have a careful and deliberate look at Common Sense Education as a vehicle for improving digital literacy in schools and at home.

Footnote: for further reading that will benefit educators and parents, read “Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World” by Devorah Heitner. Here is my review of the book.

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