Stanford History Education Group


Digital Literacy Curriculum in Chicago and Los Angeles Schools

Young people meet the world through the internet. But the dominant approaches for teaching digital literacy are woefully outdated (think: antiquated checklists that tell students that websites ending in .org are more trustworthy and that a site is credible if it lists a contact address). Dated strategies make students vulnerable to bad actors, who exploit easily-gamed signals of credibility. A national survey by the Stanford History Education Group showed that high school students struggle to perform basic evaluations of online content. In the face of this digital threat, the costs of inaction are grave. The health of a democracy depends on an educated citizenry and its ability to separate reliable information from sham.  

There are better ways to prepare students to navigate the internet. Based on research with professional fact checkers, the Civic Online Reasoning curriculum helps students sort fact from fiction online. The Stanford History Education Group is now embarking on a partnership with leaders in the Los Angeles Unified School District and Chicago Public Schools—the second and third largest school districts in the United States. Together, the Stanford team and their partners will develop research-tested Civic Online Reasoning materials for specific subject areas (e.g., art, math, English, science, and social studies) tailored to the needs of students in each district.

To inform this work, the team will conduct a needs assessment with students, teachers, and administrators. Team members will document students’ online practices and observe classes focused on digital literacy. They will work together to design new curriculum materials and professional development for teachers in each district. The project aims to serve as a blueprint for other school districts working to integrate digital literacy across core school subjects.


For more information, please contact:
Joel Breakstone
Director, Stanford History Education Group