HB213: Safe Technology Use and Digital Citizenship Education

HB213

School community councils need information and support to implement HB213. The EPIK Alliance Community has an opportunity to help.

What is HB213?

In this last legislative session, Keven Stratton (who has participated in some of the EPIK community meetings) sponsored and the legislature passed a bill that proposed amendments to an already existing law. These amendments stipulated that a new responsibility for school community councils is to partner with the administration in making decisions about filtering of school devices that access the internet and to oversee training of students and parents to assist students in making smart media and online choices. (You can read the text of HB213 here.)

This legislation was precedent setting.

Through EPIK’s relationship with Media Literacy Now, a national non-profit, we became aware that this legislation (particularly the concept of putting the concept of digital citizenship in the books) was precedent-setting, as no other state has language codifying the need for digital citizen education.

Sometimes policy can help spur cultural shift!

EPIK Deliberate Digital’s Collaborative Role 

HB213 allows for school community councils (which include administrators, teachers, and parents, and who could work with their school youth councils) to seek assistance from non-profits in the implementation of the digital citizenship training element of HB213. EPIK Deliberate Digital is collaborating with the School Children’s Trust Section at the Utah State Office of Education.

To aid in supporting councils, parents, and youth, EPIK Deliberate Digital will host a digital citizenship website that will provide resources and information around the many facets of digital citizenship. Because EPIK Deliberate Digital is focused on community collaboration, we hope to involve many community partners in content creation for this website (see next section).

We will also be seeking to expand the conversation around digital citizenship to include more focus on leveraging the positives of technology (not just preventing the negatives).

Since the plans for the 2015-2016 school year have already been submitted by school community councils and approved by local school boards, the current plan is to collaborate with 8-10 councils in pilot mode. In addition to seeking input from these pilot councils on the digital citizenship website, we will also work with these pilot councils to engage with student leaders at their schools to select and implement a digital citizenship project that focuses on leveraging the positives of technology. This can help councils state-wide to have some examples they can draw upon as they plan for the 2016-2017 year.

How EPIK Community Partners can get involved

1. Contribute resource and program information for an EPIK digital citizenship resources website

EPIK Deliberate Digital will be hosting a website educating about the facets of digital citizenship, and informing school community councils and parents about the many resources available for digital citizenship education.

If you are interested in having your organization spotlighted on the website, and/or interested in writing a guest post for the website, please contact aubrey@epik.org or michelle@epik.org

2. Help expand the concept of digital citizenship to include using technology in creative, contributing ways

A good majority of digital citizenship dialogue and efforts focus on preventing potential negative outcomes that can exist with technology use. Initiatives and programs around internet safety, netiquette, cyberbullying prevention, protecting identity, etc. are essential elements of digital citizenship. But an EPIK definition of digital citizenship expands beyond preventing negatives and helping kids be smart consumers and users of technology to being contributors, connectors, and creators in their families, schools, peer networks, communities, and society at large.

We are hoping to connect with more organizations focused on this more proactive approach to technology use for kids. Please contact michelle@epik.org if you know of any organizations doing such work.

3. “Not about them without them” — Work with youth to brainstorm new ways we all can use technology more deliberately and positively 

We invite you to watch Devorah Heitner’s TED talk if you haven’t yet (or watch it again if you haven’t watched for a while). She talks of “co-creating solutions” with these youth who have “lived experience” with technology. The solutions of tomorrow regarding kids and tech can’t be created without tapping into the know-how and needs and ideas and energy of the kids and youth of today. They are the leaders of tomorrow. They are digital natives and have perspectives on and experiences with technology that we as adults don’t have. Let’s let them help create their future and ours.

Part of the website will include an ongoing list of ideas for ways technology can be used for good.

For example, youth of today can use their tech know-how and skills to:

  • Inspire and encourage others through social media interactions
  • Help fund-raise for good causes
  • Build relationships with loved ones and friends
  • Build skills for future jobs and technological advances in society
  • Provide positive peer support and help
  • Create art, music, video, inspirational messages, etc
  • Learn about and engage proactively with their world
  • Expand and share their knowledge of other cultures
  • Connect with other youth around the world

Good digital citizenship needs to be a cultural mindset, a way of life 

It’s exciting to have a law that has the potential to spur cultural change. HB213 will likely motivate many school community councils to find a program, presenter, or other one-time resource that can help a school community take a closer look at digital citizenship education. Over time, we hope that our efforts will help digital citizenship become more a way of life and a positive cultural movement. In summary, HB213 implementation can spur the potential for that kind of progress, as we work together to:

  • Create a clearinghouse of resources
  • Involve many community voices and experts — including youth — to spur more conversation about the many facets of digital citizenship
  • Brainstorming more ways youth can use technology to connect, create, and contribute in their families, schools, peer networks, cities/communities, and society at large

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