21st Century Learning

Common Sense Education Launches Free Gaming Platform to Teach Digital Citizenship

Common Sense Education has released Digital Compass, a free, interactive gaming platform created to help sixth- through ninth-graders learn digital literacy and citizenship skills.

Based on lessons from Common Sense Education's K-12 Digital Literacy and Citizenship Curriculum (which is currently taught in more than 89,000 schools nationwide), Digital Compass addresses cyberbullying, privacy and security, creative credit and copyright, information literacy, Internet safety, digital footprint and reputation, self-image and identity, relationships and communication. The platform is designed to give students the freedom to explore how their digital interactions may impact their real-life relationships and future opportunities. 

Digital Compass is an animated choose-your-own-adventure game that puts students in the role of one of eight characters (four male, four female), each of whom is faced with a series of digital dilemmas. Students determine their character's actions — and the story’s outcomes — by making a series of decisions between one of two options.

There are eight topical modules with eight corresponding mini games, and each mini-game has three levels of gameplay. Each module has nine endings (three each in the categories of neutral, good, and not-so-good), 32 paths and 50 unique combinations based on decision points. The multiple storylines prompt users to replay in order to explore alternative paths. Printable extension materials are tied to Common Core writing standards.

According to Michael Carter, a creator of digital games for health and learning, "We know that good learning games engage students more than lectures, improve retention over text, support higher-order thinking skills, and encourage kids to persist.... Digital Compass does all this in a developmentally appropriate way that challenges middle schoolers to explore, experiment, make decisions, rationalize, take risks, judge conventions, assert individuality, express themselves and interact with peers — within a safe, walled-garden experience."

Versions of the app for iOS and Android tablets, as well as a version designed to work on the Edmodo platform, will be available in app stores at the end of this month.

Digital Compass is made available for complimentary use by AT&T. It was designed in collaboration with Producto Studios, a California-based animation studio, and with the support of the Best Buy Children’s Foundation, the Grable Foundation, the Sherwood Foundation, the Bezos Family Foundation and Symantec.

About the Author

Christopher Piehler is the former editor-in-chief of THE Journal.