Get Your Fill of Digital Bytes

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 10.06.52 PMI have anticipated the release of Digital Bytes since first hearing about Common Sense Education’s development of the website this summer. So, imagine my surprise when I realized I missed not one, but two posts on Google+ extending an invitation to explore the new program. (If you have not already circled Common Sense Education on G+, then this is the time to do it!)

Digital Bytes exceeds my expectations. According to Common Sense Educators, thematic Bytes that can be completed in one to two hours and are meant to engage teens in:

1. media reflection
2. media deconstruction
3. media creation (more time may be spent in this activity)

Currently, there are four digital citizenship themes or buckets with two Byte options within each. Common Sense Education plans to add more Bytes over time. Once a visitor selects their Byte, they work their way through five steps. A progress bar at the top of the screen shows where you are through the entire process. Here is an example from the Byte, Haters and Trolls (more on why I was exploring this particular Byte down below.)

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Designed to meet a variety of needs, this flexible program can be used by individuals or small groups with teacher facilitation or independently. It is appropriate for middle and high schoolers; although, Common Sense Media has an audience of 13 years-old and up in mind. Sixth and seventh grade teachers will want to facilitate use only after previewing all the content to determine if their students can handle the material and discussion with maturity.

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 10.04.03 PMIncluded in the program is a Facilitator’s Guide complete with an overview, information on badging, essential vocabulary, curriculum ties to the long-standing CSM Digital Citizenship and Literacy lessons, and even templates for adapting Digital Bytes activities into Project Based Learning entry events.

HSDLdigitalmedia2After exploring Digital Bytes a little bit, I can see that students might find inspiration to create a piece for the Hoosier Student Digital Leaders Digital Media Festival. I like the idea that they could share their work in both places. If you are looking for an entry activity to get your students thinking about writing and producing a digital media piece on cyberbullying, the theme for this year’s HSDL Digital Media Festival, then I suggest you select this specific path in Digital Bytes:

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How can you cultivate kindness online?
Activity B

Or you could have students scroll pass the filter to the main menu and select Our Generation > Haters and Trolls, which also leads them to the question, How do you cultivate kindness online?

Aside from getting specific definitions for troll and cyberbullying, your students can learn what disinhibition means and discuss its repercussions in this particular Byte. In every Byte’s final step, students are provided a list of creation tools that they might want to use to create their product. There are many reasons why I will be highly recommending this program to educators looking for ways to make digital citizenship discussions a regular part of learning. And I definitely plan to have my 13-year-old complete a Byte on her next snow day!