2011 eukids on llne 2 full paper proetoimassia gia ekdossi

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2011 eukids on llne 2 full paper proetoimassia gia ekdossi 2011 eukids on llne 2 full paper proetoimassia gia ekdossi Document Transcript

  • APPLYING NEW MEDIA IN THE CLASSROOM: A BLOGGING PARADIGM FOR THE PROJECTION & DIFFUSION OF ALTERNATIVE MEDIA & CULTURAL PATTERNS* Dr. Elisavet Deliyanni Department of Journalism & Mass Media Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece – elsa@jour.auth.gr Dr. Dimitra Dimitrakopoulou Department of Journalism & Mass Media Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece – dimitrakopouloud@gmail.comABSTRACTThe present paper reviews the application of new media, with emphasis on Web2.0 tools (e.g. blogs, social media and networks) in the classroom of primaryschool children. The approach is two-fold: on the one hand, we examine theirintegration in the actual ongoing (traditional) teaching process, whilst on theother hand, we study their use as independent tools for media literacypurposes.Our study is based on the specific case study of the monitoring of the two-yearlyoperation of the school blog [ferentes.blogspot.com] that was run collaborativelyby the teacher of the 3rd (and later 4th in the consequent year) grade in theelementary Experimental School,1 his pupils and their parents. After thecompletion of the two-year operation of the blog, we conducted a follow-upstudy combining two methods: firstly, we distributed self-administeredquestionnaires to the parents in order to access their involvement in theblogging and the related media literacy process, as well as to record theirexperiences from the interactive activities with their children. Secondly, weperformed close focus-groups with the primary school children who initiated1 * The authors of the paper wish to express their sincere appreciation to Mr. DimitrisKorkoriadis, teacher of the class who offered his personal and class work through the schoolblog as material for the case study of the present research piece. Special thanks to Mrs DimitraKehagia, PhD Candidate at the Department of Journalism & Mass Communication (AUTh) forher help in the partial transcription of the focus groups interviews. We would also like to thankMr. Ioannis Kalaitzoglou, Director of the Experimental School and Mrs Katerina Theodoraki,teacher at the School, for enabling us to perform our research with the major possibleconvenience and for arranging practical issues. Last but not least, we would like to express ourgratitude to Prof. Zoi Papanaoum, School of Philosophy of AUTh and Academic Supervisor ofthe Experimental School for giving us the permission to perform our research in the school.t The Experimental School of the University of Thessaloniki, is a special public school, in closeties with the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. The University Committee appoints a SchoolSupervisor, who is, in general, a professor of Pedagogical Studies in the Department ofPhilosophy of the University (information available at http://piramatiko.web.auth.gr/init_en.htm,last accessed 28/4/2011).
  • their active participation in the blog, in order to access the impact of theintegration of the new media in the educational process and, at the same time,to record the diffusion of alternative media and cultural patterns in their dailylives.Previous research has shown that teachers do not use new media and thecorresponding technologies either because they are not familiar with suchtechnologies or because they are not properly trained to do so. Teachers of theyounger generation may be better users of the new media but that does notensure that they know and they can teach the procedure related to theproduction of messages namely the construction of content and their ethics.Based on the two-years operation of the blog and the experience that wegained, combined with the study and observation of new trends in the field ofmedia in education, we reached the following conclusions and suggestions thatare examined critically through our empirical study:• The use of digital technology and interactive new media in education is not limited to the education of technology or the learning of potential risks and dangers.• The simple use of new technologies and communication media in school classes does not suffice so as to build citizens that will know how to deal with the content of new media, and how to use it creatively.• Given that the successful operation of the particular communication medium was born through the cooperation of the fields of pedagogy, communication, ethics of communication and culture in media, the training of teachers in media should include lessons coming from all the aforesaid disciplines. The training material that will be used must come from a close cooperation of all cognitive fields involved.• Finally, in the frame of modern communication societies, the communicational training is something that concerns us all and lifelong learning in media should include wider parts of the population, parents for example.KEYWORDS: digital literacy, Web 2.0, school blog, focus groupsIntroduction: Establishing a rationale for our studyThe new interactive platforms that Web 2.0 has introduced to the fields ofcommunication, content producing and sharing as well as to networking, offergreat opportunities for the learning and educational procedure for botheducators and students. The expanding literature on the “the Facebookgeneration” (Steele & Cheater, 2008) indicates a global trend in the
  • incorporation of social networking tools for connectivity and collaborationpurposes among educators, students and between these two groups. The useof social software tools holds particular promise for the creation of learningsettings that can interest and motivate learners and support their engagement,while at the same time addressing the social elements of effective learning(Kvavik, 2005). At the same time, it is widely suggested that today’s studentsrequire a whole new set of literacy skills in the 21st century.2The current generation learners, namely young people born after 1982, havebeen and are being raised in an environment that presupposes that newtechnologies are a usual part of their daily lives. This new generation of learnersare defined as “Net Generation” (Olbinger & Olbinger, 2005), “Millenials”(Pedró, 2006), “Neomillennial Learners” (Baird & Fisher, 2006; Dede, 2005),“digital natives” (McLester, 2007), “New Millennium Learners” (OECD, 2008). Allterms follow a slightly different or alternative approach to the samephenomenon described above. For them the Internet is part of the pattern oftheir day and integrated into their sense of place and time (Media AwarenessNetwork, 2004). Livingstone & Bober (2005) note in the UK Children Go Onlineproject that computer access is growing and 92% of children now have Internetaccess at school. Though the differences in matters of online access betweenEuropean countries, the ways and the purposes of Internet use amongyoungsters show similarities whereas raise challenges as well. Nevertheless,the Internet is an integral part of young people’s lives as half of all childrenunder 18 years old in the EU25 have used the Internet, with even higher figuresapplying to teenagers (Hasebrink, Livingstone & Haddon, 2008: 5).Social web presents new possibilities as well as challenges. On the one hand,the main risks of using the Internet, as the EU Kids Online project indicates (see(Hasebrink et al., 2008), can be classified to four levels: a. commercial interests,b. aggression, c. sexuality and d. values/ideology. On the other hand, Web 2.0opens a whole new world of opportunities for education and learning,participation and civic engagement, creativity as well as identity and socialconnection (Hasebrink et al., 2008). Wikis, weblogs and other social web toolsand platforms raise possibilities for project-based learning and facilitatecollaborative learning and participation among students and educators.Moreover, project-based learning offers many advantages and enhances skillsand competencies (Paus-Hasebrink, Wijnen & Jadin, 2010). Most of the studieson project-based learning show effects on study motivation (Helle, Tynjälä,Olkinuro & Lonka, 2007), creation of shared learning environment (Wageneder& Jadin, 2007) and cognitive processes (e.g. meta-cognition in Barron,Schwartz, Vye, Moore, Petrosino, Zeck & Bransford, 1998).An emerging learning paradigm2 See for example, Gee, 2009; Jenkins, Clinton, Purushotma, Robison & Weigel, 2006; Jones-Kavalier & Flannigan, 2008; Palfrey & Gasser, 2008; Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2004.
  • The changes in the access and management of information as well as inpossibilities for interactivity, interaction and networking signal a new learningparadigm. As described by the Study on the Impact of Web 2.0 Innovations onEducation and Training in Europe (2009: 9), the new paradigm can besummarized as follows: a. Due to information overflow, there is a need to learn how to sift, select, organize and manage information according to its relevance. b. Learning in the digital era is fundamentally collaborative in nature; social networks arise around common (learning) interests and aims and facilitate the learning process by providing social and cognitive guidance and support. c. The learner plays a central role in the learning process – not as a passive recipient of information, but as an active author, co-creator, evaluator and critical commentator. d. As a consequence, learning processes become increasingly personalized, tailored to the individual’s needs and interests.The abovementioned changes signify the foundations for Learning 2.0, resultingfrom the combination of the use of social computing to directly enhance learningprocesses and outcomes with its networking potential (Redecker, 2009). As thereport Learning 2.0 regarding the impact of Web 2.0 innovations on E&T inEurope indicates, there are the following innovative ways of deploying socialcomputing tools in primary, secondary, vocational and higher education: Usingsocial computing to enhance learning and achieving (LA), to foster networking(N) learners, teachers, researchers and E&T institutions, to embrace diversity(D) and open up to society (S) as a potential for richer and more transparentlearning opportunities.3 Together these four approaches to Learning 2.0 giverise to new areas for innovation in learning, to innovative lands for Learning, oriLANDS as shown in figure 1. Figure 1: Together these four approaches to Learning 2.0 give rise to new areas for innovation in learning, to innovative lands for Learning, or: iLANDS. This model aims to show how social computing is currently used in formal educational contexts (Redecker, Ala- Mutka, Bacigalupo, Ferrari & Punie, 2009: 43).3 More in Redecker, 2009: 47-48.
  • In its iLANDS dimensions, Learning 2.0 builds on the synergy and convergence among technological, organizational and pedagogical innovations4 to empower the learner focusing on three major dimensions: technological, organization and pedagogical innovation (see figure 2).Figure 2: Indicating the synergy & convergence among the innovations (Redecker et al., 2009:44).The changes that we are experiencing through the development and innovationthat Web 2.0 introduces are framed by the participatory culture that we live in.Participatory culture is the one with a. relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, b. strong support for creating and sharing one’s creations with others, c. some type of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most experienced is passed along to novices and a culture where its members believe that their contributions matter and feel some degree of social connection with one another (Jenkins with Clinton, Purushotma, Robison & Weigel, 2006: 7).The four forms of participatory culture, affiliations, expressions, collaborativeproblem-solving, and circulations, require “new literacies… [that] involve socialskills developed through collaboration and networking” (Jenkins et. al., 2009: 4).In this environment with new opportunities and new challenges, it is inevitablethat new skills are also required, namely: play, performance, simulation,appropriation, multitasking, distributed cognition, collective intelligence,judgment, transmedia navigation, networking, and negotiation (see table 1).4 See European Commission, 2008.
  • Nevertheless, the participatory culture is prospectively participatory for all, e.g.providing and enabling all to an open and equal access as well as to ademocratized and regulated environment. Three core problems are identified asthe main concerns that should be addressed in any media literacy programme: a. participation gap: fundamental inequalities in young people’s access to new media technologies and the opportunities for participation they represent b. transparency problem: children are not necessarily reflecting actively on their media experiences and can’t always articulate what they learn from their participation c. ethics challenge: children can’t develop on their own the ethical norms needed to cope with a complex and diverse social environment online (Jenkins et. al, 2009: 12, see more on pp. 12-18).The necessity to deal with these challenges calls for a 21 st century medialiteracy, which can be described as the set of abilities and skills where aural, visual, and digital literacy overlap. These include the ability to understand the power of images and sounds, to recognize and use that power, to manipulate and transform digital media, to distribute them pervasively, and to easily adapt them to new forms (New Media Consortium, 2005: 8). The digital generation learnersPupils that still attend school are growing in a technology dominated world. AsHolley (2008) states, youth born after 1990 are currently the largest generationin the last 50 years and live in a technology saturated world with tools such asmobile phones and instant access to information. Moreover, they have becomeavid adopters of Web 2.0 technologies such as podcasting, social networking,instant messaging, mobile video/gaming, IPTV.5 Being the first generation togrow up surrounded by digital media, their expectations of connectivity are high,with technology everywhere in their daily life. The characteristics of the newgeneration of students include, among others, multi-tasking, information agemindset, eagerness for connectivity, ‘fast-track’ accomplishments, preferencetowards doing than knowing, approach of ‘reality’ as no longer real, blur linesbetween the consumer and the creator and expectations for ubiquitous accessto the Internet (Frand, 2000; Oblinger & Oblinger, 2005). These characteristicsshould be definitely taken into account when designing or evaluating a medialiteracy programme. Children use the Internet mainly as an educationalresource, for entertainment, games and fun, information seeking and social5 See also Webwise, 2006.
  • networking and shared experiences with others (Hasebrink et al. 2008: 25).Communication with friends and peers, especially, is a key activity. Numerouscommercial surveys chart children’s favourite websites, showing that childrenvalue this new medium for information, entertainment, relieving boredom andtheir preferred activity, communication.6 They use different tools such as chats,instant messaging or e-mail to stay in contact with each other or to search fornew friends. They also participate in discussion forums or use the Internet tosearch for information, to download music or videos and to play online games. 7Communication and staying in touch with friends and colleagues is rankedhighly for them.8 We could say that they use the social web “to construct,experiment with and present a reflexive project of self in a social context”(Livingstone 2008: 459-477) as well as to achieve and enhance their self-confidence, self-identity and self-esteem (Valkenburg, Peter & Schouten, 2005). Learning 2.0Learning 2.0 is an emergent phenomenon, fostered by bottom-up take up ofWeb 2.0 in educational contexts. Although social computing originated outsideeducational institutions, it has huge potential in formal E&T for enhancinglearning processes and outcomes and supporting the modernization ofEuropean E&T institutions. Learning 2.0 approaches promote the technological,pedagogical and organizational innovation in formal Education &Trainingschemes. As the EU report on Learning 2.0 (Redecker et al., 2009: 11)indicates, Web 2.0 builds up the prospects for a. enhancing innovation andcreativity, b. improving the quality and efficiency of provision and outcomes, c.making lifelong learning and learner mobility a reality and d. promoting equityand active citizenship:On the other hand, there are major challenges that should be dealt with. Whilethere are currently vast numbers of experimental Learning 2.0 projects underway all over Europe, on the whole, Learning 2.0 has not entered formaleducation yet. The following technical, pedagogical and organizationalbottlenecks have been identified (Redecker et al., 2009: 12-13) which mayhinder the full deployment of Learning 2.0 in E&T institutions in Europe: a.access to ICT and basic digital skills, b. advanced digital competence, c. specialneeds, d. pedagogical skills, e. uncertainty, f. safety and privacy concerns andg. requirements on institutional change.6 See further Livingstone 2003: 149. See also Livingstone and Bober 2005; Livingstone andHelsper 2007; SAFT 2006.7 Le forum des droits sur l’internet 2004: 8-9; SAFT 2006: 22; Webwise 2006: 5.8 Medienpädagogischer Forschungsverbund Südwest 2007-2010; SAFT 2006: 6.
  • The foundations of our case studyOur study is based on the specific case study of the monitoring of the two-yearlyoperation (school years 2008-2009 and 2009-2010) of the school blog[ferentes.blogspot.com] that was run collaboratively by Dimitris Korkoriadis, theteacher of the 3rd (and later 4th in the consequent year) grade in the elementaryExperimental School,9 his pupils and their parents. The blog was more like anexperiment in order to see if this social medium would give him the chance toimprove –and to what degree- his communication with the pupils of 3rd gradebut also with their parents. What is also worth noticing is the fact that theprogress and the process of the project have been mostly experiential.10The blog did not exclusively deal with school issues. It was full with informationabout things that an 8-9 year old child would probably like: quality music, artand interactive games etc. In addition, the educative posts aimed at giving adifferent view of the lesson in relation to the way it was presented by the schoolbook or at enriching the lesson with additional information. As time went by,children of the class started to explore new worlds, worlds from the past, thepresent and the future, they started to comprehend the difference betweenSakis Rouvas, Lady Gaga and Madonna from one side and Manos Hatzidakis,Louis Armstrong from the other side. Sometimes, children of the class werespending all afternoon playing or discovering new posts on the blog. Theparents from the other side, took a trip to memory lane as we listened again toAll you need is love by Beatles as well as to an updated, universal version ofStand by me. The whole project felt like a spontaneous and unscheduled grouptherapy aiming at improving the class community through art.After observing the intense interest of pupils and parents for the class’ blog aswell as a certain change in their behaviour regarding their amusement habits, itwas realized that the blog with the specific content could be a valuable tool ofalternative communication, a communication medium that would promote analternative anti-Hollywood standard that could possibly lead in a different way of9 The Experimental School of the University of Thessaloniki is a special public school, in closeties with the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. The University Committee appoints a SchoolSupervisor, who is, in general, a professor of Pedagogical Studies in the Department ofPhilosophy of the University (information available at http://piramatiko.web.auth.gr/init_en.htm,last accessed 28/4/2011).10 The leading author of the present paper, Prof. Elsa Deliyanni has participated in Dimitris’ ideafirstly as her daughter was a pupil at the 3 rd grade of the Experimental School of the Universityof Thessaloniki and has shown personal interest in the project. One day at the late Septemberof 2008, her daughter asked for a Google email address so that both of them could upload postsin the blog that has been made by her teacher. The school blog project coincided with heracademic interests during that period as she was supervising the post-graduate thesis of aThessaloniki blogger under the title “Legal issues, morals and ethics in blogs and in the CitizenJournalism” and was also teaching a similar course at the undergraduate course of theDepartment of Journalism and Mass Media of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. It shouldalso be noted that the co-author of the present paper, Dr. Dimitrakopoulou got involved in theproject at the recent evaluation stage of the blog.
  • daily life and habits. In other words, the teacher plays a vital role in theeducational procedure as someone who is transmitting knowledge and cultureand is able to influence pupils and their parents. This blog has been anexemplary and innovative application of the communicative possibilities offeredby the new social media in the field of education.Participation gap Very soon we recognized the power and effect of themessages that were uploaded in the posts and came to realize our tasks andobligations as adults, especially towards children and parents who were notliterate in new technologies and new media. The first year that the blogoperated (2008-09) was more like a test. After that, and as the blog was richerin content, we faced routine problems that had to be solved. First of all, accessof pupils and their parents as well as the aspect of digital divide: how could wepossibly talk about a democratic medium when the participants have not equalaccess, either because they did not have the necessary equipment in order toconnect to the web, or they are not computer literate and thus they cannot makeuse of new technologies. In our case, pupils were not aware of the use oftechnology, very few parents were familiar to the Internet and even less hadaccess from their homes. Moreover, a series of technical issues that had to besolved at the beginning: firstly, the class had to be connected to the Internet soas pupils and the teacher could access their blog at least during the teachinghours. Secondly, adequate number of computers should be installed in theclassroom and thirdly, the teacher had to train pupils in new technologies.Ethical challenge. Another serious issue that came up was how pupils couldlearn to use creatively and with safety the new media. In Greece, the educationabout the Internet and the new media is found under intense protectionism thatis focusing on the dangers of internet without taking into serious considerationthe content of communication: that is to teach children to control and managethe content they receive or send, to learn to search knowledge and culture, touse new technologies in a way that will free their creative forces andimagination and to become users that will comprehend all dangers. In particular,in a social medium where everybody is entitled to upload a post, theadministrator is liable for the uploaded content. What kind of content is properand suitable legally and morally? Also, how do we use third parties’ works,intellectual property issues, behavioral models in the internet including rulesabout not revealing or exposing ourselves to others (children especially) morethan we would do in the traditional public sphere etc. 11 Another important aspectthat we have faced was about how to maintain the character of the medium as amedium that is producing and diffusing anti-Hollywood models, when 25 pupilsand their parents are entitled to upload posts without censoring the content andwithout violating anyone’s right to freely upload the content he/ she wishes.11 These questions led Dr. Deliyanni in 2009-2010 to the creation of another blog entitled “NewMedia Culture” aiming at informing and training on legal and moral issues related to the use ofNew Media. Her goal was to support the teacher’s work, to enlighten parents about relevantissues and of course to inform her students as well.
  • Evaluation of the blog & feedback by pupilsThis summer (June 2011) we decided to proceed to the implementation of anevaluation process, combining methods based on the specific case under study.We decided to start first12 with conducting focus groups with the primary schoolchildren who initiated their active participation in the blog, in order to access theimpact of the integration of the new media in the educational process and, atthe same time, to record the diffusion of alternative media and cultural patternsin their daily lives.13 We decided to conduct all focus groups in a particular dayso that all children shared the feeling of participating in the same thing withoutcreating any feelings of exclusion and being left out from something that ‘theother kids are doing’. Before the implementation of our research we had to askpermission from the Director and the Academic Supervisor of the school 14 aswell as from the parents of the children. In the case of the parents, we sentthem a detailed information letter about our research accompanied by a consentform that they return filled in and signed to the researchers. This way wereassured that they all understood the nature and the purposes of the researchproject and they were reassured that their personal data are anonymous andconfidential – however, they can refuse any question or withdraw at any timeFrom the 25 children of the particular class we formed five focus groups (fivepupils in each group).15 The pupils were divided into groups by their teacher -inthat year- Mrs Katerina Theodoraki who was asked by the researchers to formthe groups taking into consideration the need for a balanced number of boysand girls in each group as well as issues of computer literacy and technologyefficiency. On the actual day of our research we were informed by the teacherthat four pupils refused to participate so we had to reorganize the groups intofour groups of five pupils. In order to create a more relaxed and unofficialenvironment, we conducted the interviews in a neutral (not classroom) room in12 Our research in progress will be enriched with the results from the questionnaires addressedto the parents whose children participated in the school blog as well as with interviews madewith the school teachers.13 A deficit in our study is that it was conducted one year after the blog ceased its operation, aproblem that we had to take into account when designing the questionnaires and interviewguides with the children and their parents. On the one hand, we are aware that we miss thespontaneity of the actual use and experiential experience of the blog as well as the actualmemories that could possibly fade away. On the other hand, we benefited from the recording ofa more holistic experience of the overall programme as it was evaluated from a distancethrough more mature emotions and other in- and out of school experiences.14 As we mentioned earlier, the Experimental School is supervised by the Aristotle University ofThessaloniki that had to provide us with permission to conduct the research in the pupils and inthe school’s premises. As the Experimental Schools regulate under special conditions under theUniversity’s supervision, we didn’t have to ask for permission from the Ministry of Education.15 The research team followed in its preparation and the implementation of the project the BestPractice Guide of the EU Kids Online Project available athttp://www2.lse.ac.uk/media@lse/research/EUKidsOnline/BestPracticeGuide/Home.aspx [lastaccessed 12/7/2011].
  • the school selecting carefully the seating of both researchers and pupils so thatit doesn’t seem or feel like exams or ‘interrogation’. We all sat on the sameheight and style of chairs in a circle around a table forming more aconversational environment rather than an official ‘meeting’. We didn’t go for aplace like a café or school yard as we wanted to maintain the attention andconcentration of the children and at the same time be able to use the school’sfacilities for the purposes of our research design.16 We distributed colourfulname tags to the children, the teachers and us as a distinguishing mark that weall share something in common. The semi-structured interview guide was basedon the following issues based on our research questions: a. use of computersand the Internet, b. acquisition of technological knowledge, c. digital gap, d. self-administered information seeking and retrieval, e. awareness of usefulinformation and added value of new media, f. interactivity and interaction, g.copyright and safety issues and h. alternative media and culture consumptionpatterns. During the interviews we used cards and photos in order to visualize aquestion or remind the children about a particular case that the Mr Korkoriadisinformed us beforehand.17 The focus group interviews were formed more asrelaxed discussions, suitable for underage children. The interviews weretranscribed by the research team in total detail and the answers were studied asunique units of analysis.18 Analysis of our findingsOur analysis consists of the clustering and the evaluation of repetitive patternsand issues that the children raise and introduce to the discussion of the focusgroups.19 Following the dynamics of the discussions and based on our project16 Both teachers, Mr. Korkoriakis who worked with the children together for the blog and MrsTheodoraki as the consequent teacher of the class were present as observants in case aclarification or help was needed and in order for the children to feel more relaxed with theirfamiliar teachers present.17 Examples of the cases that were mentioned include a painting of Joan Miró to remind themtheir visit to his painting exhibition in the Teloglion Foundation of Art in Thessaloniki and aphotograph of the famous Greek pop singer Sakis Rouvas in order to remind them thediscussion held in class and online about mainstream and alternative music and culturalpatterns.18 At the end of the interview of each group, we provided the children with a large papersurface, pictures of Web 2.0 applications and tools and colour markers. We asked them toconstruct a group collage, a kind of mind map combining the pictures and their personaldrawings and text messages. They were motivated to express themselves freely bydrawing, writing down messages or ideas even on the other children’s creations onlywith the restriction that they had to choose one specific colour in order to be able for theresearchers to track their interactions.19 It should be noted that the results of our findings are grounded on the children’s replies andtheir perceptions and not on the actual facts. Our interest at this point is to record the pupils’own understanding and evaluation of the issues under study. A further analysis and cross-checkwith the teacher and the parents will follow at a later stage of our research.
  • topics, we analyze in the following section our findings and results.20 Particularparts of the discussions around certain topics are highlighted, leaving others forfuture research in combination also with our broader study. Use of computers & acquisition of technological knowledge On our first issue regarding the use of computers and the Internet, the vastmajority of the children (19 out of 20) responded that they own a PC at home.Though it became apparent through clarifying questions that they actually usetheir parents’ or siblings’ computer, it is important that they find themselves inthe position to be able to characterize a PC as ‘their own’ showing this way thefrequency and the amount of computer use at home. The PC was mentioned asthe only means to enter the online world (and not mobile devices for example).The main sources for the acquisition of technological knowledge are parentsand the school teachers. The gender gap in technological matters is evident inthe children’s responses, as the father is mentioned as the dominant figure thatis able to teach them how to use the computer and enter the Internet whereashelping in frequent troubleshooting while being online. However, in the case ofinexpert parents, the help of other members of the family, as older siblings,proves to be of greater significance to the younger ones in case of need. Theteacher of the class is also contributing to a great extend to the technologicalknowledge of the pupils, especially during the Flexible Zone21 of the schooltimetable.It is worth mentioning that expertise is not attributed to official learning oracquisition of technical skills: it is more linked to learning by doing and by trial,indicating a tendency of young children to deal with computers and the Internetin an informal, freely and spontaneous way imitating a game and not formalknowledge. Autonomous online searchMost children use the Internet on their own in order to locate and findinformation for their assignments, class work or just for fun. Due to timeconstraints of their parents, children often claim to surf online by themselves,although they ask for help if they face unexpected difficulties. They do admit to20 See Annex for quotes from the focus groups in relation to our research findings.21 The Flexible Zone Teaching is based on investigative and participatory methodologies thatmaximize the use of cross-thematic concepts in order to promote a cross-thematic and holisticapproach to learning. The following pedagogic initiatives are promoted: a. increased degrees offreedom to the class teacher, b. greater involvement and active participation of students in theplanning and execution of their own learning and c. promotion and connection of schoolknowledge with language, arithmetic and social literacy skills (for more on the Flexible Zone,visit the site of the Pedagogical Institute of the Ministry of Education, Lifelong Learning andReligious Affairs at http://www.pi-schools.gr/content/index.php?lesson_id=1000 [last accessed2/9/2011].
  • face difficulties while looking for information, often ending up beingoverwhelmed by the amount and the quality of information online and finding itdifficult to choose the useful and accurate information.Their most frequent cited searching ‘strategy’ is to look up in Wikipedia and thenturn to Google if they cannot find something that they can truly distinguish asuseful information. Most of the children are aware of the fact that the mostuseful information is not always shown among the top results so they often godeeper to the findings pages and look through the results. They often mentionthat is takes a lot of time to find what they are actually looking for. When theyare discouraged by the timely information acquisition, they often turn to theparents or the teacher for help. Developing the class blogTurning to the discussion regarding the blog that the class was running for theperiod of two years, it immediately became apparent from the children’s repliesthat it was regarded as a new learning tool, offering a diverse and fun ‘teachingrealm’. Although it was not clear from the very beginning the ways they couldmake the most out of it, by doing and by getting involved gradually andprogressively they became extremely attached and devoted to it. Computerswere directly linked to the “f(s)unny” side of the learning process, whereastraditional teaching methods were described as boring and inevitable. The kindand the quality of information that the teacher was publishing on the blog incombination to the type of work and assignments they were able to do throughthe blog offered to the pupils a new learning environment where knowledge wasconstantly described by the children as interesting and fun. At the same time,working on the blog in groups as well as a team brought the children closer,giving them the sense of the community and of coordinated and common actiontowards a certain aim. The value of self-expressionThe exchange of opinions and comments through the blog was recognized as acore added value, providing them with the opportunity to express themselvespublicly not only to their peers and their teacher, but also to their parents and toother people following the blog and even not in the tight time and roomconstraints of the school timetable and the classroom respectively. Childrenused words and phrases as “popular”, “a chance to be heard”, “more peoplefollow my opinion” when describing their experience through the sharing of theirviews and opinions on the blog.At the same time, some children raised the issue of online exposure with itspossible dangers and hazards. They seemed to be aware and advised on not
  • over-exposuring themselves by posting comments that would mark a break intheir privacy boundaries. Interactivity opportunities & potentialsThe interactivity offered by the blog proved as a great tool for new opportunitiesfor communication among the children especially after the school day. This wasalso one of the reasons for motivating the children to go online and connect tothe blog. At the same time they valued the blog as a common platform that theyall shared in order to relate to each other through reading others’ posts andcommenting on them. The blog also served as an alternative ‘classroom’ bygiving the opportunity to the less active (during the lesson) pupils to be heard.The children also mentioned that they often discussed with their parents whatthey would post on the blog, making this discussion and sharing of the contentof the blog a common experience between them. Dealing with safety issuesTurning to parents proves a solution when children face safety issues whenthey are online. The pupils proved to a large extent aware of the possibledangers online regarding exploitative and dangerous contacts with strangers orspam advertising. Dealing with the possible online risks, parents are developingrules for managing their children’s Internet use. Many children report that theirparents set rules, especially concerning the time spent in front of the computerscreen, or they monitor or restrict their use.The children were also very critical when they referred to incidences of relativesand friends facing online or gaming addictions. They characterized it as‘annoying’ and ‘unthinkable’. Awareness about copyright issuesThe children’s awareness on copyright issues was though less apparent. Whenthe discussion turned to issues regarding the attribution of sources found online,most children didn’t consider necessary to state where they have found theinformation. They are aware of the word “copyright theft”, but they claim that itcannot be considered as theft if you show a presentation or project to a fewfellow pupils. The exact attribution of sources needs to be frequently remindedby the teacher as the children tend to neglect or forget this necessity. A shift in media and cultural consumption patternsA very interesting finding in our study has to do with the change of televisionhabits during the period the class was operating the blog. The vast majority ofthe children mentioned that when they were using the blog on a regular basis
  • they watched less television or even not at all. It was also mentioned that thekind of television programs they were watching changed during the course ofthe blog operation. Some children claimed to look for more quality televisionprograms, marking an indication that the use of new media can lead to theemergence and adaptation of alternative media products.In addition to the change in the media consumption habits, the blog also servedas the means for getting to know a more alternative and less popular culture.The blog gave to the teacher and the pupils a ‘getaway’ from the classcurriculum and a surplus of knowledge, linked to their lessons but yet not strictlyconfined to them. Moreover, the blog served in making the children feel moreattached to the learning process in the class by enriching the lesson with newand exciting knowledge. It also provided the teacher with the tools to initiatediscussions regarding the critical approach of the contemporary consumersociety and the mass culture and entertainment, whereas at the same time hewas able to speak of and present to them less popular and non-mainstreamcultural products. A large discussion about the Eurovision song contest servedas an example for comparing mainstream pop music to timely and quality music(see the last two replies recorded).A brave new realm of Learning 2.0Our case study highly demonstrates the importance for motivation andengagement of both teachers and pupils as well as of the parents who act moreas a supporting ‘net’ for the online activity of their children.Although the uses of Web 2.0 were mostly exploratory rather than embeddedthey do prove the dynamics of participatory media to create a collaborative,participatory and creative environment with applications both online (schoolblog) and offline (class room). The dynamics developed demonstrated agrowing empowerment of the pupils inside and outside the classroom,projecting the learning process in a more fun and interesting way at home andengaging the pupils to extra curriculum projects and activities. More specifically,we trace signs of active and autonomous online search modes among thechildren. Although they are still in need of guidance and advice from theirparents or teachers, especially in cases they were insecure about or suspiciousof information found online, there is a tendency towards independence ofInternet enquiries.More evident in our case study is the engagement in collaborative learningactivities among the pupils. Web 2.0 tools are ideal for supporting suchcollaboration schemes. However, they are not sufficient for the motivation andcommitment of pupils; the character, the personality and the personal
  • engagement of the teacher are of major importance for organizing andstimulating learner-oriented activities extended also beyond the lesson basedon interactivity and interaction and facilitated through the social Internet. Web2.0 platforms offer also a new kind of engagement with new media literaciesthat outline required skills for the young generation and aim towards a morestudent-centered pedagogy. Nevertheless, they have the potential to give rise tonew areas for innovation in learning (iLANDS), starting from Learning andAchieving, going through Networking and embracing Diversity and resulting toopening up to Society.22 The posting of content was enthusiastically welcomedby the pupils, who felt that they were doing something important. Sharing andpublishing their thoughts in a written word was highlighted as a major factor forenhancing their sense of engagement towards a collaborative activity, value oftheir peers’ assessment and awareness of a possible larger audience outsidethe classroom. The blog platform proved as the most common and user-friendlypublication outlet, through publication of presentations prepared for the lessons,engaging in online learning games and activities, building personal weblogs anduploading photographs and images.The two-year operation of the blog as well as the rich experience we gained,combined with the study and observation of new trends in the field of media ineducation, have led us to certain conclusions and suggestions. First of all, theuse of digital technology and interactive new media in education is not limited tothe education of technology or the learning of potential risks and dangers. Thesimple use of new technologies and communication media in school classesdoes not suffice so as to make citizens that will know how to deal with thecontent of new media, and how to use it creatively 23. Moreover, as shown inpast researches,24 teachers in the Greek schools do not use new media and thecorresponding technologies either because they are not familiar with suchtechnologies or because they are not properly trained to do so. Teachers of theyounger generation may be good users of mass media but that does not ensurethat they know and they can teach the procedure related to the production ofmessages namely the construction of content and their ethics.25 However, itshould be noted that new literacies are linked to an interdisciplinary approach ofteaching, namely pedagogy, communication, ethics of communication andculture in media. Therefore, the training of teachers in media should include22 See for more on the iLANDS approach in Redecher et. al., 2009.23 See on the matter, EU Commission Recommendation on media literacy in the digitalenvironment for a more competitive audiovisual and content industry and an inclusiveknowledge society, available athttp://ec.europa.eu/culture/media/literacy/docs/recom/c_2009_6464_en.pdf, last accessed2/7/2011].24 See for example Marantos, 1999.25 Committee on Culture and Education, Rapporteur: Christa Prets, available athttp://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+REPORT+A6-2008-0461+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN [last accessed 2/7/2011]as well as the EU Commission Recommendation on media literacy (ibid).
  • lessons coming from all the aforesaid disciplines. It is essential that the trainingmaterial that will be used must come from a close cooperation of all cognitivefields involved.BIBLIOGRAPHYBaird, D. E. & Fisher, M. (2006). Neomillennial User Experience Design Strategies: Utilizing Social Networking Media to Support Always On Learning Styles. Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 34, 5-32.Barron, B. J. S., Schwartz, D. L., Vye, N. J., Moore, A., Petrosino, A., Zeck, L. & Bransford, J. D. (1998). Doing with Understanding: Lessons from research on problem- and project-based learning. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 7, 271-311.Commission of the European Communities. Recommendation on media literacy in the digital environment for a more competitive audiovisual and content industry and an inclusive knowledge society, C(2009) 6464 final. Retrieved from http://ec.europa.eu/culture/media/literacy/docs/recom/c_2009_6464_en.pd f.Dede, C. (2005). Planning for Neomillennial Learning Styles. Educause Quarterly, 28 (1), 7-12. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/pub/eq/eqm05/eqm0511.asp.European Commission (2008). Commission Staff Working Document. The use of ICT to support innovation and lifelong learning for all - A report on progress, SEC (2008) 2629 final. Retrieved from http://ec.europa.eu/education/lifelong-learning- programme/doc/sec2629.pdf.Frand, J. L. (2000). The Information-Age Mindset: Changes in Students and Implications for Higher Education. EDUCAUSE Review (September/October Issue). Retrieved from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERM0051.pdf.Gee, J. P. (2009). Big thinkers: James Paul Gee on grading with games [video]. Edutopia: What Works in Public Education. The George Lucas Educational Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/digital- generation-james-gee-video.Hasebrink, U., Livingstone, S. & Haddon, L. (2008). Comparing children’s online opportunities and risks across Europe: cross-national comparisons for EU Kids Online. Deliverable D3.2. EU Kids Online, London, UK. Retrieved from http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/21656/1/D3.2_Report- Cross_national_comparisons.pdf.Helle, L., Tynjälä, P., Olkinuro, E. & Lonka, K. (2007). ‘Ain‘t Nothin’ Like the Real Thing.’ Motivation and Study Processes on a Work-Based Project Course in Information Systems Design’. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 77, 397-411.Holley, J. (2008). Generation Y: Understanding the Trend and Planning for the Impact. Paper presented at the 32nd Annual IEEE International Computer Software and Applications Conference. Retrieved from http://conferences.computer.org/compsac/2008/pdf/KEY-COMPSAC-jean- holley-GenYTrends.pdf, last accessed 12/8/2011.
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  • Medienpädagogischer Forschungsverbund Südwest (2010). JIM-Studie 2010. Jugend, Information, (Multi-) Media. Basisstudie zum Medienumgang 12- bis 19-Jähriger in Deutschland. Retrieved from http://www.mpfs.de/fileadmin/JIM-pdf10/JIM2010.pdf.Oblinger D. G. & Oblinger J. L. (Eds.) (2005). Educating the Net Generation. Washington, DC: EDUCAUSE. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/books/educatingthenetgen/5989.OECD (2008). New Millennium Learners. Initial findings on the effects of digital technologies on school-age learners, OECD/CERI International Conference “Learning in the 21st Century: Research, Innovation and Policy”. Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/39/51/40554230.pdf.Palfrey, J. & Gasser, U. (2008). Born digital: Understanding the first generation of digital natives. New York: Basic Books.Partnership for 21st Century Skills (2004). The intellectual and policy foundations of the 21st Century Skills Framework. Retrieved from http://www.p21.org/route21/images/stories/epapers/skills_foundations_fina l.pdf.Paus-Hasebrink, I., Wijnen, C. W. & Jadin, T. (2010). Opportunities of Web 2.0:Potentials of learning, International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics, 6 (1),45-62.Pedró, F. (2006). The new Millennium Learners: Challenging our Views on ICT and Learning. OECD-CERI. Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/ 1/1/38358359.pdf.Practice Guide of the EU Kids Online Project. Retrieved from http://www2.lse.ac.uk/media@lse/research/EUKidsOnline/BestPracticeGui de/Home.aspxRedecker, C. (2009). Review of Learning 2.0 Practices: Study on the Impact of Web 2.0 Innovations on Education and Training in Europe. European Commission: Joint Research Centre & Institute for Prospective Technological Studies. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. Retrieved from http://ftp.jrc.es/EURdoc/JRC49108.pdf.Redecker, C., Ala-Mutka, K., Bacigalupo, M., Ferrari, A. & Punie, Y. (2009). Learning 2.0: The Impact of Web 2.0 Innovations on Education and Training in Europe. Final Report. European Commission: Joint Research Centre & Institute for Prospective Technological Studies. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. Retrieved from http://ftp.jrc.es/EURdoc/JRC55629.pdf.Report on media literacy in a digital world (2008/2129(INI)), Committee onCulture and Education, Rapporteur: Christa Prets, available athttp://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+REPORT+A6-2008-0461+0+DOC+XML+V0//ENSAFT (Safety Awareness Facts and Tools) Project. (2004-2006). SAFT 2006 Parent and Children survey. 2004-2006: Norwegian Action Plan for Children, Youth and the Internet and the European Commission Safer Internet Action Plan: Norwegian Media Authority.Steele, K. & Cheater, M. (2008). Connecting with the Facebook Generation: Social Media Strategies for Web 2.0. Paper presented at the Atlantic Association of Registrars and Admission Officers-Interchange 2008
  • Conference Diverse Perspectives: A New Generation of Students. Retrieved from http://www.academicagroup.com/AARAO-2008.Valkenburg, P. M., Peter, J. & Schouten, A. P. (2005). Friend Networking Sites and their Relationship to Adolescents. CyberPsychology and Behavior, 9, 585-590.Wageneder, G. & Jadin, T. (2007). ELearning 2.0 – Neue Lehr-/Lernkultur mit Social Software?. In Verein ‘Forum Neue Medien’ (ed.). ELearning: Strategische Implementierungen und Studieneingang. Tagungsband 13. fnm-austria Tagung, Graz: Verlag Forum Neue Medien. Retrieved from http://wageneder.net/artikel/fnma-13.html.Webwise (2006). Webwise 2006 Survey of Children’s Use of the Internet. Investigating Online Risk Behaviour: National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE). Retrieved from http://www.webwise.ie/GenPDF.aspx? id=1389.ANNEXAnalysis of our findings accompanied by representative quotes from thefocus groupsOur analysis consists of the clustering and the evaluation of repetitive patternsand issues that the children raise and introduce to the discussion of the focus
  • groups.26 Following the dynamics of the discussions and based on our projecttopics, we analyze in the following section our findings and results. Particularparts of the discussions around certain topics are highlighted, leaving others forfuture research in combination also with our broader study. Use of computers & acquisition of technological knowledge On our first issue regarding the use of computers and the Internet, the vastmajority of the children (19 out of 20) responded that they own a PC at home.Though it became apparent through clarifying questions that they actually usetheir parents’ or siblings’ computer, it is important that they find themselves inthe position to be able to characterize a PC as ‘their own’ showing this way thefrequency and the amount of computer use at home. The PC was mentioned asthe only means to enter the online world (and not mobile devices for example).The main sources for the acquisition of technological knowledge are parentsand the school teachers. The gender gap in technological matters is evident inthe children’s responses, as the father is mentioned as the dominant figure thatis able to teach them how to use the computer and enter the Internet whereashelping in frequent troubleshooting while being online. However, in the case ofinexpert parents, the help of other members of the family, as older siblings,proves to be of greater significance to the younger ones in case of need. Theteacher of the class is also contributing to a great extend to the technologicalknowledge of the pupils, especially during the Flexible Zone27 of the schooltimetable.“My father has taught me how to use the PC and work in Powerpoint since I was 7-8and has shown me how to access the Internet or what to do if I can’t get online”.“I learnt most of the stuff in the computer classes and sometimes my brother helpsme”.“My mum is an engineer and she has taught me since I was very young to work on thecomputer, but I have learned better with my teachers”.“[I was taught] by my father but also by my teachers at school”.26 It should be noted that the results of our findings are grounded on the children’s replies andtheir perceptions and not on the actual facts. Our interest at this point is to record the pupils’own understanding and evaluation of the issues under study. A further analysis and cross-checkwith the teacher and the parents will follow at a later stage of our research.27 The Flexible Zone Teaching is based on investigative and participatory methodologies thatmaximize the use of cross-thematic concepts in order to promote a cross-thematic and holisticapproach to learning. The following pedagogic initiatives are promoted: a. increased degrees offreedom to the class teacher, b. greater involvement and active participation of students in theplanning and execution of their own learning and c. promotion and connection of schoolknowledge with language, arithmetic and social literacy skills (for more on the Flexible Zone,visit the site of the Pedagogical Institute of the Ministry of Education, Lifelong Learning andReligious Affairs at http://www.pi-schools.gr/content/index.php?lesson_id=1000 [last accessed2/9/2011].
  • “[I was taught] by my father. Mum doesn’t have a clue!”“Mine neither! She doesn’t even know where ‘backspace’ is!”It is worth mentioning that expertise is not attributed to official learning oracquisition of technical skills: it is more linked to learning by doing and by trial,indicating a tendency of young children to deal with computers and the Internetin an informal, freely and spontaneous way imitating a game and not formalknowledge.“I heard of people talking about the Internet and I wanted also to learn and do, to seehow it is”.“Since I was little I played [computer] games with my dad and I started learning andstarted visiting other sites and games [...]”“[Our teacher] taught us a few things about Powerpoint and then I was searching andfinding on my own”.“We are used to a few pages. When a friend shows us another one, we may go thereas well”. Autonomous online searchMost children use the Internet on their own in order to locate and findinformation for their assignments, class work or just for fun. Due to timeconstraints of their parents, children often claim to surf online by themselves,although they ask for help if they face unexpected difficulties. They do admit toface difficulties while looking for information, often ending up beingoverwhelmed by the amount and the quality of information online and finding itdifficult to choose the useful and accurate information.“I mostly search by myself and if I can’t find on my own a lot of information I ask helpfrom my sister, if she has the time and she is willing to help”.“Sometimes it is difficult, according to what you are looking for, and sometimes it iseasy”.“Most of the times it is easy… but I remember that once I was looking for something[…] there were a lot of pages and I couldn’t find what I wanted…and I didn’t know whatto do”.“Most of the times there are no specific results and I have to search for long time”.“I do too get online to find information and stuff and I end up with irrelevant things”.Their most frequent cited searching ‘strategy’ is to look up in Wikipedia and thenturn to Google if they cannot find something that they can truly distinguish asuseful information. Most of the children are aware of the fact that the most
  • useful information is not always shown among the top results so they often godeeper to the findings pages and look through the results. They often mentionthat is takes a lot of time to find what they are actually looking for. When theyare discouraged by the timely information acquisition, they often turn to theparents or the teacher for help.“When I am bored, my mom is searching and does it fast”.“I ask for help only when I can’t get online and I can’t fix it by myself”.“If you can’t find at once what you are looking for you can change the letters or thepage you are in, namely you will go to the second page of the results”.“We keep looking because there could be another better [webpage]”. Developing the class blogTurning to the discussion regarding the blog that the class was running for theperiod of two years, it immediately became apparent from the children’s repliesthat it was regarded as a new learning tool, offering a diverse and fun ‘teachingrealm’. Although it was not clear from the very beginning the ways they couldmake the most out of it, by doing and by getting involved gradually andprogressively they became extremely attached and devoted to it. Computerswere directly linked to the “f(s)unny” side of the learning process, whereastraditional teaching methods were described as boring and inevitable. The kindand the quality of information that the teacher was publishing on the blog incombination to the type of work and assignments they were able to do throughthe blog offered to the pupils a new learning environment where knowledge wasconstantly described by the children as interesting and fun. At the same time,working on the blog in groups as well as a team brought the children closer,giving them the sense of the community and of coordinated and common actiontowards a certain aim.“The lesson was nicer, it was fun!”“We sometimes stayed in the class during the break, we wanted to continue!”“When we worked with the computers the first time, it was like a baby goes toKindergarten […] We did it [the blog] the first day, we said ‘Great, we are missing thelesson!’… the second time we said the same… huh, the third time we understood thatthis was our new lesson!”“I like the lesson better with the blog […]. It became more interesting”.“We dealt with the computer, but we also learned things thanks to the computer”.“We did something more interesting, we weren’t just sitting and having lessons…”.
  • “The whole class was uploading things. We did something in the computer alltogether”.“I like it very much because maybe it [the blog] was what taught me to use thecomputer and it was so much fun... beacuse everyone was telling his opinion,everyone was describing something that happened. Others out from school, out of theclass were visiting it and they were seeing what we were doing and we had a lot offun!”. The value of self-expressionThe exchange of opinions and comments through the blog was recognized as acore added value, providing them with the opportunity to express themselvespublicly not only to their peers and their teacher, but also to their parents and toother people following the blog and even not in the tight time and roomconstraints of the school timetable and the classroom respectively. Childrenused words and phrases as “popular”, “a chance to be heard”, “more peoplefollow my opinion” when describing their experience through the sharing of theirviews and opinions on the blog.“I felt that I was expressing my thoughts in the blog. And I liked it…it pleased me”.“It was nice because you usually say your opinion and they barely listen to you…whereas when you write something, someone will wonder to see what you wrote andeveryone knows what you are writing, they know your opinion”.“I felt somehow popular, if I may say it? […] To be able to communication with theothers”.“[I felt] happy, as I am also a member of the blog community”.At the same time, some children raised the issue of online exposure with itspossible dangers and hazards. They seemed to be aware and advised on notover-exposuring themselves by posting comments that would mark a break intheir privacy boundaries.“You always have to keep some distances because you are not the only one who seesthat blog […] anyone can see it and you have to be careful with your words […] youshouldn’t write whatever comes into your head”.“It’s nice [to post online] but you have to be careful with what you say and write […] youshouldn’t post addresses, names, because a crazy person may see it”. Interactivity opportunities & potentialsThe interactivity offered by the blog proved as a great tool for new opportunitiesfor communication among the children especially after the school day. This wasalso one of the reasons for motivating the children to go online and connect to
  • the blog. At the same time they valued the blog as a common platform that theyall shared in order to relate to each other through reading others’ posts andcommenting on them. The blog also served as an alternative ‘classroom’ bygiving the opportunity to the less active (during the lesson) pupils to be heard.“I liked it because we could also speak, express ourselves through the blog”.“Sometimes we don’t have much time [in the class] and we don’t always raise ourhand”.“At home we have as much time as we want [to write our opinion], whereas in the classwe have less time and you have to speak fast”.“[I feel different when I say something in the class. I raise my hand and I will be heardonly by the ones who are there. On the contrary, if you write it on the blog, othersoutside the class can see, read it too”.“When I was posting something, I was eager the next day to see the comment thatsomeone would make on mine”.The children also mentioned that they often discussed with their parents whatthey would post on the blog, making this discussion and sharing of the contentof the blog a common experience between them.“I discussed it sometimes. I said ‘dad, mom, I am going to post this’ and so I did”.“Sometimes we asked them what to post if we didn’t any ideas”. Dealing with safety issuesTurning to parents proves a solution when children face safety issues whenthey are online. The pupils proved to a large extent aware of the possibledangers online regarding exploitative and dangerous contacts with strangers orspam advertising. Dealing with the possible online risks, parents are developingrules for managing their children’s Internet use. Many children report that theirparents set rules, especially concerning the time spent in front of the computerscreen, or they monitor or restrict their use.“I report it to my mom and she tells me to shut it down when I see something weird”.“I tell it to my mom and she sees it too and advices me what to do”.“If I see something very weird, I shut it down. If it is something of medium level, I willtell it to my mom and we will talk about it”.“Once I entered some pages that were asking weird things, such as ‘is your house bigor small’ and I am somehow afraid of these things and of course I discuss them withmy parents […] Because I have a lot of such things […] I often call my mom”.
  • “There are some online advertisments and various messages pop up...’answer thisquestion and you will win a cellphone’ or ‘you will win 500 euros’...I never played. Itwould be right”.The children were also very critical when they referred to incidences of relativesand friends facing online or gaming addictions. They characterized it as‘annoying’ and ‘unthinkable’.“I am not one of these kids who are computer maniacs and play games and don’t leavethe computer for four hours. I enter the computer when I have to prepare apresentation or to do something interesting. I know some children who sit even a wholeday in front of the computer…How can they do that? It’s crazy!”“I think it is a bit scary, I can’t understand how they sit so many hours in front of thecomputer”. Awareness about copyright issuesThe children’s awareness on copyright issues was though less apparent. Whenthe discussion turned to issues regarding the attribution of sources found online,most children didn’t consider necessary to state where they have found theinformation. They are aware of the word “copyright theft”, but they claim that itcannot be considered as theft if you show a presentation or project to a fewfellow pupils. The exact attribution of sources needs to be frequently remindedby the teacher as the children tend to neglect or forget this necessity.“The truth is that if I see a good text, I hurry to get it and post it. And then I use it. I takeout the useless information and keep the useful ones”.“I sometimes read them and copy-paste them in Word. I don’t have to [write where Igot them from], neither in the photos].“I don’t write [write where I got them from], because, ok, it won’t be considered a theft ifwe show it to a few kids…because most of the texts we find are for assignments…sowe don’t have to”.“I don’t write it in the presentations because I think it is somehow excessive… becauseit seems to me as advertising… it seems to me as you are interrupting the presentationand say ‘stop, let me tell where I got the image from’ and then you continue”.“Sometimes in our presentations we wrote where we got the material and the imagesfrom. Sometimes, not always”.“We did it for some time…then it was forgotten”. A shift in media and cultural consumption patternsA very interesting finding in our study has to do with the change of televisionhabits during the period the class was operating the blog. The vast majority of
  • the children mentioned that when they were using the blog on a regular basisthey watched less television or even not at all. It was also mentioned that thekind of television programs they were watching changed during the course ofthe blog operation. Some children claimed to look for more quality televisionprograms, marking an indication that the use of new media can lead to theemergence and adaptation of alternative media products.“When the blog stopped operating I even watched more television because I didn’thave anything to do”.“The blog gave me ideas for activities, so that instead of watching television, I could dowhat I was thinking”.“I became more eclectic, while I was watching crap things before the blog. As I startedto have an opinion on the Internet about something, I had then also opinion about thetelevision as well […] I started thinking more”.“I regarded television as ancient compared to the blog!”“Television can get boring, while the Internet doesn’t get that boring…the Internet hasa lot of more interesting stuff than the television…”.In addition to the change in the media consumption habits, the blog also servedas the means for getting to know a more alternative and less popular culture.The blog gave to the teacher and the pupils a ‘getaway’ from the classcurriculum and a surplus of knowledge, linked to their lessons but yet not strictlyconfined to them. Moreover, the blog served in making the children feel moreattached to the learning process in the class by enriching the lesson with newand exciting knowledge. It also provided the teacher with the tools to initiatediscussions regarding the critical approach of the contemporary consumersociety and the mass culture and entertainment, whereas at the same time hewas able to speak of and present to them less popular and non-mainstreamcultural products. A large discussion about the Eurovision song contest servedas an example for comparing mainstream pop music to timely and quality music(see the last two replies recorded).“We learnt a lot of new things...about arts, music, history, maths...This blog was asource of knowledge!”“We learned a lot of things that we had never heard of before...”.“I also believe that I learned more through the blog because it was working as asecond school... whatever you couldn’t learn in the class, you entered the blog and youlearned something more”.“Our teacher has said that some songs who go to the Eurovision will be rememberedfor 1-2 years, whereas some others stay for ever...”.
  • “This discussion made is think differently. People still so listen to some older, morequality, songs...”.