Using Digital Citizenship to Bridge the Gap Between Higher Ed and K-12

Contributed By

Marialice B.F.X. Curran, Ph.D.

Associate Professor for the School of Education at the University of Saint Joseph, CT

Using Digital Citizenship to Bridge the Gap Between Higher Ed and K-12

Posted in Community | September 15, 2016

Originally posted in 2012 on the Schoology Blog. It's just too good to not repost.

Learn. Lead. Live. is a motto I emulate as I guide teacher candidates through a full learning experience of mind, heart, and hand. I am committed to preparing preservice teachers for today's 21st century classroom of diverse learners in a globalized, digital, networked world. Guided by this pedagogy of social justice and service to others, I believe that learning is a lifelong endeavor and should be a transformative experience.

I am an assistant professor in the School of Education at the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford, Connecticut. As a constructivist grounded in teaching and learning in a student-centered, hands-on, inquiry-based classroom, I have always embraced being an agent of change. My courses critically examine what it means to be socially responsible citizens with particular focus on diversity, empathy and tolerance as we explore issues surrounding digital citizenship, the digital divide, and our digital presence.

Motivated to be a learner first and always, I strive to embrace change and constantly am seeking new learning opportunities. In June 2011, I had the good fortune of meeting Beth Sanders at ISTE. Through social media, my college freshmen and Beth's high school juniors collaborated on what it means to be an iCitizen nationally, globally, and digitally. Our final multimedia project concluded:

The iCitizen Project was put together to promote consciousness and empathy in a digitizing world. Dr. Curran's First Year Seminar, Pleased to Tweet You, worked with Ms. Sanders's class at Tarrant High School to share and create big ideas about what the project means and what they could do to contribute to it. Both classes used a blend of Schoology, Twitter, and Skype to communicate with one another, bridging the gap between the two schools and creating an online iCitizen community.

We initially put a lot of emphasis and focus on the issue of bullying, and while it does remain a large problem both on and offline ... we felt that teaching empathy first is more effective than trying to stop bullying later. Together we learned what it means to be an active citizen instead of just a resident, an enabler of change, and not a bystander. We learned to humanize the person on the other side of the screen.

For a generation who has mostly grown up around computers, it's hard to think there's anything new that you could possibly learn about the Internet. But this class has shown us that there is always room to grow, connections to forge, and communities to contribute to, both in your backyard and behind the computer screen. And the tools we've acquired by working together on this project will be used to benefit and educate others, to create a much more rewarding online experience for everyone.

The iCitizen Project became more than just a school project; it was a transformative experience for all those involved and developed into an opportunity to change minds, attitudes, and hearts.

Currently, my undergraduates are collaboratively writing A Book for Life to positively address the issues surrounding social justice, empathy, diversity, and acceptance. Inspired by a recent guest speaker on our campus, Curtis Acosta, we are taking his Mayan philosophy of "In lak'ech," which means, "You are my other me" and creating a multimedia presentation in response to the recent suicide of Amanda Todd.

The Other Me
In Lak'ech

Tu eres mi otro yo
You are my other me

Si te hago daño a ti
If I do harm to you

Me hago daño a mi
I do harm to myself

Si te amo y te respeto
If I love and respect you

Me amo y me respeto yo
I love and respect myself

About the Author


Dr. Curran is an Associate Professor for the School of Education at the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford, CT. Her teaching, scholarship, and service focus on digital citizenship and social media in K-12 teacher education. Named one of the Top 10 Digital Citizenship bloggers to follow in 2014 by Common Sense Media, Curran co-founded (2011) and moderates the digital citizenship #digcit chat on Twitter.

You can contact Dr. Curran at the University of Saint Joseph via email ( or on Twitter (@mbfxc) if you're interested in collaborating on any future projects.


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