Untangle Digital Life Digital Compass

Teens are constantly in a state of living and learning, they are constantly taking in information through peers, media, family and various forms of technology. With so much information coming and at fast rates, it's no wonder why teens get confused. "But another possibility is that confusion is itself a step toward learning — an experience that motivates the learner to reconcile an inconsistency or remedy some deficit (Lombrozo, 2015)." Teens need to think about what they can say or do, take a picture of and post, and so much more. The difference now is that with technolgy, it is now recorded for time to see. This adds extra layers of thoughts, ideas and peer pression which then can lead to confusion. Teens generally look at the world through their own eyes but how can they start to see the world through a different perspective?

How can we as teachers help students through these years and all the confusion that come with growing up in an age of technolgy? By using what they know and understand - technolgy.

Digital Compass is an interactive game that is focused towards teens and how to untangle the confusion of digital citizenship. It uses role-playing in order for students to see the world through another set of eyes. The game consists of 8 characters, all focused on a different digital problem you would find in a teen's everyday life.

Which character would you choose?

The story begins with a background story and then sets up a problem to which the student can decide which path he/she would like to take. Topics range from internet safety, cyberbullying, digital footprint, self-image and creative credit to name a few. Each of the stories have 9 possible endlings, 23 decision points, 32 paths and 50 possible combinations. "The positive and not-so-positive twists and turns emphasize the wide range of consequences in a student's daily digital life (Common Sense Media)."

After the story, the student plays a mini-game that is based on the theme of the story they just watched. It reinforces the skills that were just discussed and bring it into a situation they would see in their lives.

Students can repeat the story, try making different choices using their critical thinking skills and see how that affects the outcome of the story. They earn bagdes for completing the stories by reaching different endings and for their scores on the mini games.

Should I comment? What should I say? Who will see this? Will they judge me? What wil they say? Can I copy this? Is it creditable? Should I post this picture? Make it public or keep it private? How many likes did I get?

So many questions and so many different perceptions! Teachers can now take this to the next level by engaging their students on what they learned and saw. What steps did the take that they felt comfotable with and which one did they not feel comfortable with? Did they relate? How can they connect this with their lives and what is happening in the classroom or school they are in? Students can then take part in a reflective writing assignment or come up with a story of their own with experiences they have had or seen. Group students together so they can play their peer's game and see what their outcome is.

Discuss! Ask students to share what they learned and what surprised them.

Games are a distraction and used to pass time, right? Wrong! By using games in the classroom, students can learn and develop various different skills that can help them in the real world. "Gaming provides a safe way to explore, try, and fail repeatedly, without the stigma or anxiety attached to botched exams or bad grades. Game playing also offers educators a unique view of how students approach problems, deal with frustration, and brainstorm solutions (Chen, 2018)." Teachers will have an insight on how their students are working. Just as how the students are learning how to see the world in a different perspective, the teacher is seeing the students from a different angle. The classroom is a safe place for students to ask questions and test out new ideas.

In order to build on what our teens are learning in and outside the classroom, they need to learn about responsibilty and what their digital footprint will look like. With the more technology advances, the smaller the world gets and the ISTE standards of being an Empowered Learner, Digital Citizen and Creative Communcator will all be needed. If we can create the base within the classroom through interactive gaming and role playing to start opening up student's eyes and creating discussions about hard to talk about subjects within their schools, it can also be used to discuss topics beyond their schools walls and for students to have a better understanding of different perspectives to bring into their life.


Lombrozo, Tania. (2015, December 14). Sometimes Confusion Is A Good Thing. Retrieved March 13, 2018, from https://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2015/12/14/459651340/sometimes-confusion-is-a-good-thing

Common Sense Media. (n.d.). Educator Guide for Digital Compass. Retrieved March 13, 2018, from https://d1e2bohyu2u2w9.cloudfront.net/education/sites/default/files/product-docs/educator_guide_093015.pdf

Chen, S. (2016, February 23). Classroom Gaming: What It Isn't, What It Is, and How to Do It Right - EdSurge News. Retrieved March 13, 2018, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2016-02-23-classroom-gaming-what-it-isn-t-what-it-is-and-how-to-do-it-right

ISTE Standards for STUDENTS. (n.d.). Retrieved March 13, 2018, from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-students

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