Digital Literacy | News

California Schools Given Free Access to Digital Literacy Program

A middle school in San Francisco is the first to adopt a free program that teaches its students about responsible computing. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Academic Middle School will be using a program called "My Digital Life," in the classroom to teach its students about privacy, security, cyberbullying, digital relationships, and digital addiction.

The company behind development of the program, EverFi, uses a unique model to fund development and delivery of its applications into user environments. The program, also known as "Ignition - Digital Literacy & Responsibility," while free to the schools and districts that use it, is actually supported and delivered through a corporate sponsorship program.

In this case, sponsorship is being provided by Neustar, which provides real-time information and analysis to multiple sectors, including telecommunications, information services, financial services, retail, media, and advertising. Neustar also sponsors its use in Virginia and Kentucky schools as well.

Through the sponsorship, any school within the state of California will be able to adopt My Digital Life. The company said in a statement that 55 middle and high schools have signed up for the program already.

The program, which combines text, interactive media, and gaming, delivers three and a half hours of curriculum designed for students in grades eight and nine. Besides building digital literacy and social responsibility, the software covers creation of blogs, maintaining a responsible social networking profile, and evaluating online research sources for legitimacy.

"Students today often have access to the tools necessary to succeed--computers, the Internet, smartphones--but do they leverage the technology in a responsible way?" asked EverFi Chief Operating Officer Tammy Wincup. "For many students, knowledge on such issues as cyberbullying, privacy, and responsible social networking is the new digital divide. EverFi is working to tackle this knowledge gap head on and at scale."

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who attended a launch event at the school, added, "In the U.S. and especially in California, our students must have the knowledge and tools they need to make responsible online decisions. But their knowledge has to go beyond just being safe; we need to prepare them to succeed in the knowledge economy, to fill countless California jobs in science, technology and engineering. My Digital Life has the potential to give them that knowledge."

About the Author

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