Discovering the Digital World Together, Safely and Critically

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Author: Maija Katkovska

Within the framework of the Safer Internet Program, Latvia organized a Safer Internet Day to bring parents, teachers and young people together to discover the digital world safely. According to current findings, safely means critically, because digital literacy skills are strongly linked to the ability to perform a critical evaluation of online content, which is automatically related to personal safety online.

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Discovering the Digital World Together, Safely and Critically

  1. 1. From the field Discovering the Digital World Together, Safely and CriticallyAuthor Within the framework of the Safer Internet Program, Latvia organized a Safer Internet Day to bring parents, teachers and young people together to discover the digital worldMaija Katkovska, ProjectManager safely. According to current findings, safely means critically, because digital literacyLatvian Internet Association, skills are strongly linked to the ability to perform a critical evaluation of online content,Safer Internet Centre which is automatically related to personal safety online.maija@drossinternets.lv Research conducted by EU Kids Online in 2010 showed that only 54% of children and young people say they are able and do compare information from different onlineTags sources before accepting it as true and trustful. To check this assumption, the Latvian Safer Internet Centre, together with Latvian social networking site Draugiem.lv, set upcritical digital literacy, an experiment to test young people’s caution when providing personal information.media education, national The findings point to a need for greater measures that address and enhance youngcurriculum, policyrecommendations people’s critical digital literacy. The slogan and theme of this year’s Safer Internet Day was focusing on bringing parents, teachers and young people together to discover the digital world together and safely. Ac- cording to current researches and finding safely also means critically, because digital literacy skills are strongly linked to critical evaluation of online content which automatically is linked to personal safety online. Research conducted by EU kids online in 20101 showed that only 54% of children and young people say they are able and do compare information from different online sources before accepting it as true and trustful information or source. To check this assumption in real life, we Latvian Safer Internet Centre together with Latvian social networking site Draugiem.lv set up an experiment. The experiment was organised as a fake campaign by Safer Internet Centre, promising to win an iPad2, just by registering and providing personal information. The banner was available for Draugiem.lv users aged 10 – 20 in a form of a typical fake banner (Like: “You have won! Click here to claim!”). When clicking the banner a registration form opened inviting the per- son to provide with their name, age and contact information. The field contact information was intentionally left just as “contact information” to see how much personal information children and young people would disclose. After finishing the registration form and submit- ting the form, information, that this is a fake campaign organised by Safer Internet Centre, was displayed. Tips and link to Safer Internet Centre’s web site were provided inviting the person to be more careful when displaying the information online. 1 EU Kids Online Research is accessible here: http://www2.lse.ac.uk/media@lse/research/EUKidsOnline/Home. aspx ing earn eLearning Papers • ISSN: 1887-1542 • www.elearningpapers.eueL ers 28 u ers.e gpap .elea rnin n.º 28 • April 2012Pap www 1
  2. 2. From the fieldDuring the campaign the banner was clicked by 2281 children in the process of education and the actual usage. As main rea-and young people, out of those 1211 registered and provided sons lack of technical equipment in classrooms and at children’spersonal information, most of them e-mail addresses and living places are named, however we would like suggest thatphone numbers, but 36, as their contact information, provided such factors as lack of methodological guidance on how to usetheir home address. The banner included information that the media critically and safely are more significant.campaign is organised by Safer Internet Centre, and if the site Fortunately only 10% of teachers think that media usage is notof Safer Internet Centre was entered the information could be appropriate or possible in the subject they teach and hopefullyfound that a fake campaign is being organised and one should future researches will only show decrease in this number. Teach-not register. ers acknowledge that critical digital literacy skills are needed andAs predicted, the results of this experiment proved that critical that school is the place to provide children with this knowledge,digital literacy skills are not the best developed skills amongst meantime results show that 51% of teachers acknowledge thatchildren and young people. it is difficult or very difficult to show and teach children how to evaluate media content critically and check if the information isThis is also proved by results of a study conducted by the Lat- true or false and the source is trustful.vian Language Agency of the Ministry of Education and Sciencein Latvia on Media Competence of Schoolchildren and Teachers From our visits to schools, when organising seminars, we seein 20112, focusing on forms, frequency, aims and ways of media that knowledge about basic internet safety issues from the per-used by both – teachers and schoolchildren – in the process of sonnel in schools is often missing – the content filters in schoolseducation. are used rarely, teachers, when giving assignments on infor- mation search, are not using safe search options and internetMain conclusions showed that different types of media (inter- browsing history is not being deleted after every user. If teach-net, TV, radio, printed press) are used daily and the most im- ers had their own experience and knowledge of what kind ofportant media used, to no one’s surprise, is internet – 91% of information children just might come across and what threats toteachers and 86% of children use it daily. The difference starts encounter online, lack of above mentioned basic safety issueswith aims – while teachers claim that in cases when more than would not be there.3 hours are spent online it is for work/ professional purposesand for personal usage internet is not being used more than an We see that the problem is there and to try to find a possiblehour a day; children for study purposes mostly spend no more solution and come up with actual suggestions on how to inte-than 1 hour a day, and if longer period is spent online – it is for grate critical digital literacy skills in the system of education inpersonal interests. This shows that for teachers internet is a me- Latvia as a part of Safer Internet Day Celebration in Latvia wedium for searching information and work while for children it is organised a Conference “Discovering the digital world togeth-a medium for interaction and communication. er... safely!” It brought together youngsters, parents, teachers and experts from industry and universities to discuss the lackThis leads to the second big difference in significance of media of usage of modern technologies in the educational process inin the process of education – perception of how important it is Latvian schools and discuss the absence of critical digital literacyto use media to perform well at school. Only 15% of teachers and media competence skills amongst children and teachers.say that use of media is not needed to perform well while 58%of children think that usage of media will not affect their perfor- The main conclusion of the discussions of the conference wasmance at school. This shows the situation in schools in Latvia – if that in the current system of Education in Latvia needs to beit is not written in the study book, it will not be asked in the test changed. Media education and development of critical digitalor exam, so I do not need to know it! These results also show literacy skills should become a part of the educational processthe gap between the teacher’s attitude about the media usage as we are living in the society driven by technologies and infor- mation.2 Study of Latvian Language Agency is accessuble here (in Latvian): http://www. Some of the conclusions coming from the Conference experts bilingvals.lv/uploads_docs/BISS_Mediju_komptence_2011_1323249632. include: pdf ing earn eLearning Papers • ISSN: 1887-1542 • www.elearningpapers.eu eL ers 28 u ers.e gpap .elea rnin n.º 28 • April 2012 Pap www 2
  3. 3. From the field • Educational personnel need to be provided with informa- tion and training developing media competences and al- lowing seeing its pedagogical potential. • The use of media should become an integral part of every stage of education from pre-school to high-school. • The focus on the values and ethical aspects of the ways me- dia and sources are used should be present in media educa- tion. • When teaching about media, the focus on technical aspects of just how to use the technology or a program should be as important as the focus on the smart usage of the technol- ogy for study purposes and one’s benefit. • The focus of possible threats of the use of technology should be substituted by development of skills to choose media rationally, critically and creatively.At the moment together with the experts Net-Safe Latvia SaferInternet Centre is working to develop practical advice on howto integrate media education and development of critical digitalliteracy skills in the process of education in Latvia.To conclude this we feel that Latvia definitely is not the onlycountry in Europe or the World where a change in the Educa-tional System is needed. We would like to invite other Safer In-ternet Centres to approach relevant partners and organisationsto point to them how important it is to develop critical digitalliteracy skills and ensure that media education becomes an inte-gral part of the educational programs. We – Safer Internet Cen-tres can only warn that there are risks out there and one shouldbe careful, but as long as there isn’t media education in place– our work is not as effective as it could be. Edition and production Name of the publication: eLearning Papers Copyrights ISSN: 1887-1542 The texts published in this journal, unless otherwise indicated, are subject Publisher: elearningeuropa.info to a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivativeWorks Edited by: P.A.U. Education, S.L. 3.0 Unported licence. They may be copied, distributed and broadcast pro- Postal address: c/Muntaner 262, 3r, 08021 Barcelona (Spain) vided that the author and the e-journal that publishes them, eLearning Phone: +34 933 670 400 Papers, are cited. Commercial use and derivative works are not permitted. Email: editorial@elearningeuropa.info The full licence can be consulted on http://creativecommons.org/licens- Internet: www.elearningpapers.eu es/by-nc-nd/3.0/ ing earn eLearning Papers • ISSN: 1887-1542 • www.elearningpapers.eu eL ers 28 u ers.e gpap .elea rnin n.º 28 • April 2012 Pap www 3

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