Press release

Schoology Announces Winners for Digital Citizenship Challenge

Over 1 million students represented by 1,000 educators across the country participated in contest highlighting the importance of digital citizenship education

NEW YORK (May 23, 2018)—Schoology, the leader in learning management systems (LMS) for education, today announced the winner of its Digital Citizenship Challenge. Stephen Rao, elementary school computer teacher for Howell Township Public Schools in Monmouth County, New Jersey, was the winner of the challenge for his submission of digital citizenship teaching materials, including detailed presentations to guide class lessons. Rao was one of over 1,000 educators representing more than one million students who participated in the challenge.

Designed for students in grades third through fifth, Rao’s program first ensures that students understand responsibilities to themselves, their family and friends, and lastly their community. Once this basic understanding of “responsibility” is understood by all, the program then moves on to the responsibilities of being a good digital citizen. The lesson also dives into some more difficult concepts like identity theft, email phishing, how to properly use search engines and more.

“While topics such as identity theft and email phishing may seem too advanced for third graders, the reality is these are issues they will be dealing with for the rest of their lives. By teaching students life skills around digital citizenship at an early age, my goal is for students to engage in the use of technology both effectively and responsibly in order for it to become second nature to them by the time they reach their teenage years,” said Challenge winner Stephen Rao. “I would like to see educators from across the country use the digital lesson plans which I developed as a springboard to jump start conversations and raise awareness around the importance of digital citizenship education for students across all grade levels.”

The Digital Citizenship Challenge launched on February 14, 2018 to rally the global community of educators and the millions of Schoology users around the increasingly relevant and important topic of digital citizenship. Schoology asked educators to participate in a 30-day Challenge by submitting resources for fellow educators to help teach or promote better digital citizenship among students. With the  increasing use of technology among children, Schoology recognized the importance of this initiative to equip educators to take the steps necessary in preparing students to be good digital citizens.

“Our vision for the Digital Citizenship Challenge was to empower educators to raise awareness for digital citizenship education in our schools,” said Schoology CEO Jeremy Friedman. “The challenge was a major success as we saw educators nationwide share revolutionary ideas on how to integrate digital citizenship education into school curricula. Stephen’s submission is a testament to the power educators can have in helping students navigate the digital world with responsibility and respect for their own safety, reputation, and real-world success.”

Stephen Rao’s submission was chosen by a blue-ribbon panel of judges because it offers teachers a helpful guide to shape digital citizenship lesson plans for their own classes, empowering teachers to integrate this important subject into ongoing curriculum for their elementary school students. His full lesson plan is available for other teachers to use, and can be accessed here.

Other educators recognized for their submissions to  Schoology’s Digital Citizenship Challenge include:

  • Amanda Lanicek and Amanda Mask, Coppell Independent School District, Texas for developing CISD Empowered Citizens—a course built for Coppell ISD learners, educators, and parents to empower a culture of digital natives
  • Nancy Rivas, Paramount Unified School District, California for building  group modules within Schoology which cover online security skills, communication, and safety
  • Amy Crisp, Tammy Rodriguez, Emily Baker, Karrina Lynch, and Michelle Norcia,  Olentangy Local School District, Ohio for creating a Schoology course on digital citizenship for fifth grade classes and introducing it to parents and future students
  • Rob Kamrowski, Gale Ettrick Trempealeau School District, Wisconsin for developing a gamified course for his eighth grade class where students play for experience points to defeat “AfterZ,” an evil organization that has taken control of the internet after the zombie apocalypse using tactics such as cyberbullying, hacking, and fake information to control humanity
  • Rao is receiving an all-expenses paid trip to Schoology NEXT, the company's annual user conference to be held July 15-18 in San Diego, where he will present his winning submission to the nearly 1,000 educators attending the conference.

According to the 2015 study The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens, 45 percent of teens say they use social media on a daily basis, with most teens devoting over an hour to social media use each day. Time on digital devices starts early—with five- to eight-year-olds spending nearly three  hours per day on screens—and only increases as kids get older, with teens spending nearly nine hours per day on devices. Because of this, Common Sense Media, an organization dedicated to helping kids thrive in a rapidly changing world, recommends that digital citizenship education starts in kindergarten, tackling issues like internet safety and privacy, and moving into more complex issues like cyberbullying, digital footprint, and identity as kids get older.

For more information on the finalists’ submissions, with screenshots and descriptions, visit the Schoology blog:



Media Contact: 

Kathleen Hopkins
InkHouse for Schoology | 609-980-6500