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I'm Kristen Mattson 

In 2015, I was working as a high school library media specialist while also completing courses for my doctorate in curriculum and instruction leadership. Like many of you, I had been tasked with teaching digital citizenship in my school. And, like many of you, I turned to the internet to see what resources I might find to help.


To say that I was disappointed in what I found was an understatement. In those early days, digital citizenship lessons seemed rooted in the assumption that all teenagers were either bad actors who went online to cause trouble or were naive victims who could be lured from their homes by an online predator. In my gut, I knew we could do better. 

Digital citizenship curriculum became the focus of my doctoral studies and for close to a decade now, I've been on a mission to "teach digcit differently."  Thanks for joining me in the work. 

Headshot of Dr. Kristen Mattson.

What's Different About This Approach to DigCit?

If you perform a basic Google Search for "digital citizenship lessons" you'll find a plethora of high quality content from a variety of publishers. So what sets this work apart? There are three core principles I keep in mind when building content: it should be embedded in the work teachers and students already do, it should honor student voice and put them in the driver seat of their learning, and it should help everyone explore the gray areas of life in a digital age.

  • Embedded:  Many digital citizenship resources require teachers to find 30-40 minutes of time for direct instruction, but teachers already have so much to accomplish in the school day. Where do you fit a standalone digital citizenship lesson when you already teach reading, math, social studies, science and more? The truth is, you can't, and so digital citizenship gets pushed to the bottom of the priority list. My goal always has been (and always will be!) to show teachers how digital citizenship skills and concepts can and should be embedded within the content you are already teaching. 

  • Student-Centered: Many digital citizenship resources are designed through a direct instruction approach. The teacher has a "script" and/or a set of resources to use to impart knowledge on the students. The students are then asked to recall important details from the lesson to show what they've learned. While this approach can work as an introduction to new concepts, it doesn't often allow for students to share their own experiences or dive deeper into topics that interest them. My goal is to acknowledge our students as the digital citizens they already are, provide opportunities for them to share their experiences, and open the door for further inquiry and discovery. 

  • Nuanced:  As a school librarian, I remember getting a weird feeling when I'd tell kids "do not share your passwords with anyone" and then ask a kid for their password as I helped them troubleshoot their school issued device. I also tell parents it is a good idea to know their young child's passwords. "Don't share your password" is an easy lesson to give and students are readily able to fire back the "correct answer" when you ask for it. But the topic isn't so black and white, is it? Most of our digital lives and experiences can't be summed up in bumper sticker-like slogans like "be kind online." It's just more complicated than that! My goal is to help students and teachers explore the gray areas at the intersection of technology and humanity, and empower learners to view a variety of perspectives and possibilities as they do so. 

Education and Experience

University Supervisor

Since 2023, I have been supporting pre-service teacher librarians in the field during their clinical semesters. 

Learn more about School Librarian Licensure at the University of Illinois.

School Librarian

I am certified as a K-12 librarian in Illinois. I served at two different high schools from 2010 to 2020. During that time, I had so much fun renovating learning spaces, supporting meaningful instructional technologies and practices, and watching students find their voice and passions.

Adjunct Lecturer

I absolutely love teaching courses that lead to a Certificate in Teaching Media Literacy through the University of Illinois.

Don't tell my students, but I'm pretty sure I learn more from them than they do from me. 

Classroom Teacher

I began my career in the classroom teaching middle school English. It was the fabulous school librarian in my first building that inspired me to move beyond the classroom in order to support literacy, innovation, and inquiry at a building level.  


Since 2021, I have been working with Dr. LeeAnn Lindsey under the name Edvolve. We've served as subject matter experts, professional developers, and content creators. It's a joy to say "yes!" to projects that are exciting and meaningful. 


E.d.D. in Curriculum and Instruction Leadership from Northern Illinois University, 2016

Master's in Instructional Design and Technology from Northern Illinois University, 2012

Bachelor's of Science in Education, Northern Illinois University, 2006

Things I've Written (and contributed to!)

Projects I am Proud Of

It's been an absolute honor to contribute content and subject matter expertise on these major projects. 

Kentucky Department of Education's Digital Driver's License
Digital Skills for a Global Society
The SmartTalk Tool
The SmartTalk Program
Ready, Tech, Go!
Build Up and Belong

Me, Beyond Work

When I am not working, I absolutely love spending time on home renovation projects (including yard stuff!) and find joy watching my three teenagers carve their own paths in life. My husband and I enjoy traveling to places near and far, checking out distilleries and breweries, and kicking butt at bar trivia under the team name "Dr. and Mr." 

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