Digital Literacy | News

New EverFi Digital Literacy Program Free to 8-9 Grades in KY and VA

An education tech company that creates interactive applications to teach students life skills recently introduced a new offering about digital literacy, cyberbullying, and related topics. The first set of users are schools in two states, which will receive free licenses through a sponsorship arrangement.

EverFi's Ignition, also known as "My Digital Life," delivers about four and a half hours of curriculum and simulations. Intended for eighth and ninth graders, the new release educates users on cyberbullying, privacy, digital addictions, and social networking in the course of simulating production of a concert in a virtual world.

The curriculum is also intended to help build digital skills, such as creating a blog, maintaining a responsible social networking profile, and evaluating online research sources for legitimacy. The learning platform tracks knowledge gain and changes in student attitudes and behaviors.

"Today, kids have access to technology--smartphones, the Internet, computers--in many cases outside the classrooms," noted company Executive Vice President Tammy Wincup. "They're digital natives outside the classrooms. We want to ensure that within the classroom, they're getting to use that same technology and they're getting to understand how to do it responsibly. The old digital divide was, nobody had technology. Now it's how to use it responsibly."

To teach relevant concepts, students have to put on a virtual concert for their school. "To personalize their stage, choose what music will play, and sell tickets, they have to build a variety of skills. They have to grow a responsible social network, inform their friends on cyber bullying issues, and set up a number of things around privacy and security. Along the way they're earning points and selling tickets," Wincup explained.

"It unlocks knowledge in order," Wincup said. Students can't get access to the lessons on how to understand a wireless bill, for example, unless they've already gone through the wireless community activity where they learn how a text message gets sent. "Behind the scenes it's pretty complex on how it's unlocking things, but to the student, they're in total control of their learning."

As a school rolls out the curriculum, EverFi will be able to provide collective data back to the districts and states based on assessments performed through the software. As Wincup noted, that data could provide a broad look at student opinions about "whether they think cyber bullying is an issue in their lives, do they feel they spend too much time with technology, and do they learn well with technology."

EverFi has wooed Neustar to provide the program at no cost to schools in both Kentucky and Virginia. Neustar has several business divisions focused on the Internet, telecommunications, and network services in a number of vertical segments.

"At Neustar we are passionate about both STEM education and teaching students how to leverage technology in safe and responsible ways," said President and CEO Lisa Hook. "EverFi has developed an entirely new way to deliver this important digital citizenship education to students, and Neustar is thrilled to be the first statewide sponsor of EverFi's learning platform."

Any Kentucky or Virginia school that has an interest in using the software can contact EverFi for licenses. EverFi is seeking additional sponsorships to make the program available in other states and districts.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.