Org Partner Spotlight: Digital Citizenship Institute

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When did your organization launch and why?
The Digital Citizenship Institute launced in 2016 as a result of planning and hosting the first conference focused solely on digital citizenship. The Digital Citizenship Summit was held in October 2015 at the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford, Connecticut and since then has become a global movement.
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What does your organization do? What are its main goals? Main projects?
The Digital Citizenship Institute is committed to promoting social good through the use of technology and social media. We are a diverse group of thought leaders who think differently and believe in amplifying the positive and practical applications of learning in the digital age. The Institute provides a community-driven approach to educating and empowering digital citizens to create solutions in local, global and digital communities. The Institute turns negatives into positives and helps to transform participants into designers, creative thinkers, global collaborators, problem solvers and justice-oriented digital citizens. We partner with districts, schools, parents and organizations to provide a community approach to digital citizenship.

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What makes your organization stand out? What would you say is the most unique thing about your organization?

The Digital Citizenship Institute is committed to changing conversations and culture around kids and technology. We unite organizations, educators, industry, parents and students by working WITH youth, not AT them; celebrating our shared humanity; working to do good with tech in your own sphere; and connecting with others doing good, so we can create a WE mindset. This multiple stakeholders approach provides an opportunity to address the positive ways to address social media and technology use as a community. 
We view digital citizenship as an action, something that we need to practice and do every single day. In today’s networked world, this is our opportunity to put global education into practice to empower others to become change makers for using tech for good in local, global, digital communities. 
To us, digital citizenship promotes the importance of being critical thinkers and solution creators who make a positive impact. In doing so, digital citizenship is about the heart of being human, creating ripples of good, continuously learning side by side and that when we work together, we are better together. 
We work towards solutions, promote best practices, and empower citizens to be the digital change.   
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What are recent projects or new resources that your organization would like to share with other NAMLE members?
This July, we hosted the Digital Citizenship Summit in Lagos, Nigeria. In collaboration with the University of Lagos, we brought digital citizenship and media literacy to the forefront. Using a collaborative approach, the DigCitSummitNG speakers focused on digital citizenship, media literacy and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. The DigCitSummitNG participants engaged in roundtable discussions creating action plans around how to apply digital citizenship, media literacy and SDGs into everyday practice. 
In October, the DigCitSummit is heading to Monterrey, Mexico for the first Spanish speaking Summit. DigCitSummitMX will follow with the second Spanish speaking Summit, DigCitSummitES in Madrid in January 2018. These global Summits will also be happening in Australia, Kenya, the UK, Ireland and Colombia in 2018.
We are also looking forward to the 3rd Annual DigCitSummit being hosted by EPIK Deliberate Digital in Utah on November 2 &3rd.
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What are the connections between the work of your organization and media literacy?
Digital citizenship and media literacy need to be leading the conversation both in and out of classrooms.  We see a natural connection between the digital citizenship and media literacy as we continue to navigate how to consume and produce digital media in today’s networked and connected world. 
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Why is media literacy important to you?
Over a hundred years ago, John Dewey argued that schools need to become mini societies mirroring the real life social activities of the students they teach. This was true hundred years ago before we even had digital access and now it is imperative that media literacy and digital citizenship is embedded in everything that we do. It is our responsibility to make this a priority and we are determined to help change the narrative around what it means to be a connected learner.
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Anything else about want our readers to know about your organization, your mission, your staff?
The Institute is proud to share DigCitKids, digital citizenship for kids by kids. Inspired by President Barack Obama, DigCitKids asks, “How are you using technology every day to make a real difference for your community, other kids and the world?”  DigCitKids are kids who share their voice with the world, solve problems and create solutions and empower other kids through their actions and words. Take the DigCitKids Pledge, become a DigCitKids Ambassador, participate in the monthly DigCitKids challenges and #bethatKINDofkid.