Friday, August 2, 2013

Digital Driver's Licenses

In the article, “Students Need a Digital Driver’s License Before They Start Their Engines,” authors Gerry Swan and Marty Park discuss The Digital Driver’s License (DDL) project, which is designed to educate students about digital citizenship.  “The US Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act emphasize schools’ responsibility to educate students about internet safety” (pp. 26); the DDL is designed to help educators do just that by tracking students’ progress on a set of self-paced cases.  “The DDL has five core cases and one final cumulative license case that captures the skill sets of nine elements of digital citizenship, as outlined in Mike Ribble and Gerald Bailey’s book Digital Citizenship in Schools” (26).  Using two types of assessments, the “practice-its” and “prove-its,” the DDL cases, or modules, expose students to information regarding digital etiquette, digital communications, security, digital access, health and wellness, digital commerce, media fluency and digital law, rights and responsibilities. 

I think that the DDL should be mandated in all schools which allow students to use technology, in or outside the classroom.  Exposing students to these ethical and legal behaviors, which are expected of them in the NETS-S standards for digital citizenship, at a young age will help to ensure ethical and legal behavior throughout their learning and professional careers.  In my future classroom, I would use this at the beginning of the year to create accountability for internet and device use; being sure that kids know that plagiarism, cyber bullying and online safety are serious issues will probably help to deter immoral conduct.  

I did see a couple of negatives within this particular article.  I see the tracking of a student’s digital citizenry by a private company as just one more instance of corporate profiteering from student information.  If these kinds of programs either generated funds for the schools which implement them or if these kinds of programs are developed for non-profit use, I would see no problem with it.  Another issue that I found was blocking access to students who didn’t complete the modules; this seems unethical on the part of the schools because it prevents students from learning everything they might need to.  I understand that access would only be blocked on devices provided by the school, but that could still alienate some students.

Park, M. & Swan, G. (2012-2013) Students need a digital driver’s license before they start their engines. Learning &Leading with Technology, 40(4), 26-28.


  1. A digital driver's license sounds like an interesting idea! I'm glad that I personally didn't discover the internet until I was mature enough to make good(ish) decisions, and I worry that young people might be doing things they will later regret online. I think it is a good idea for schools to restrict internet access unless students can pass a DDL course. Thanks for the interesting post; I did not know that something like this existed.

  2. With or without a digital driver's license, students need to learn about and practice digital citizenship. Having a license makes it formal. Not a bad idea. But a more important thing is action. Knowing about something is different than actually doing it. The license is just a start. All should continue to behave and be a good digital citizenship. When a license is used, it needs to be renewed in a certain period of time.