Digital Bytes

I have been a fan of Common Sense Media for some time and I’m really impressed with their new initiative called Digital Bytes. In their own words:

“Digital Bytes teaches teens digital citizenship through student-directed, media-rich activities that tackle real-world dilemmas. Teens learn from the experiences of their peers then create collaborative projects that voice their ideas for making smart, safe choices online.

Digital Bytes is ideal for afterschool programs, community centers, or blended-learning classrooms that need short, relevant activities that teach digital citizenship and critical thinking about media consumption and creation. Here’s what teens have to say about Digital Bytes:

“I learned that not everything should be posted online. Also that if you post something and then have second thoughts about it and delete it, it still may not be gone.”

“We learned about how, by being an activist, we can make more things happen than by being a slacktivist. We also learned there are a lot of ways to help our community.”

How It Works
Using the Digital Bytes website, teens choose a topic, or “Byte,” that resonates with their interests. They learn from the real-world experiences of others who’ve encountered digital dilemmas that raise questions such as:Why does cyberbullying happen, and how can you stand up for yourself and others?

  • When is it OK to copy something from the Internet?
  • How can the Internet help you launch a new project or bring a community together?
  • Why should you care if websites track what you do online?

Teens then express their ideas for how they’d respond to these questions by creating multimedia projects, presentations, and videos that showcase their authentic voices and talents.

Get Started!
Read the Facilitator’s Guide, and then try the Bytes yourself.
Point your teens to Digital Bytes, and let them do the rest!

  • Digital Bytes Web Site
  • Facilitator’s Guide

Frequently Asked Questions
What does Digital Bytes cost? It’s free!

Who is Digital Bytes for? Digital Bytes brings a blended-learning solution to afterschool programs, community centers, and classrooms that need short, relevant, and engaging activities for teens. The program is geared toward teens age 13 and up, although you may find it appropriate for some tweens. Digital Bytes works best with collaborative groups, but individuals can complete it, too. See the Facilitator’s Guide for more information.

How long does Digital Bytes take? Each Byte is designed to take 1–2 hours to complete.

What are the tech requirements for this program?

  • Browsers: Internet Explorer 9 and above; Chrome; Firefox; Safari.
  • Operating systems: Windows 7, Vista, and XP or Mac OS 10.5 or higher.
  • Streaming video: The site contains embedded videos from Vimeo. If your network blocks Vimeo, you may need to show the videos on your personal device.

Do I need any other hardware or software? Each Byte includes suggestions for additional tools teens might want to use, such as a video camera and presentation and creation software. Many of the suggested tools are commonly available or free to download.

How does Digital Bytes work in a blended environment? In the Facilitator’s Guide, we’ve aligned several lessons for grades 6–12 from our Digital Literacy and Citizenship Curriculum to each Byte.

How many Bytes are there? What topics do they cover? Currently eight Bytes cover a variety of digital citizenship topics, such as “Internet Hoaxes,” “Copy-Paste Culture,” and “Online Entrepreneurship.” Additional Bytes will be added periodically.

How do teens share their voices? The work they do through the Digital Bytes program can be recorded and shared as videos on YouTube or Vimeo.

How do teens share their videos? Teens are encouraged to record their work and shared it on online. Facilitators can help by creating a group account on YouTube or Vimeo so teens can upload their videos more easily.

Is it OK to share teen videos online? Before uploading videos, we recommend that facilitators read the privacy policies and user agreements of these services and consider whether teens need to obtain parent permission. Before uploading, be sure the videos do not contain any personally identifying information about the students and that materials used fall under fair use and do not violate copyright.

How can teens get their videos featured on the Digital Bytes site? Digital Bytes features videos submitted by teens and selected by Common Sense Education staff. To have your teens’ videos considered, mark them as public (omit any identifying information), and email us the link at schools [at] commonsense [dot] org with the subject line “Digital Bytes Video.” (Note that we cannot feature all videos received.)

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