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Critical digital literacies and young adult literature

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  1. 1. Developing Preservice Teachers’ Critical Digital Literacies Through Young Adult Literature Amy Piotrowski, Ph.D. Amanda Plaizier, M.A.
  2. 2. The Issue Technology is impacting our lives, from artificial intelligence to the data collected about us every time we go online. Are we thinking about the ethical implications of the ways today’s technology tools are used?
  3. 3. The Issue Teacher educators would do well to encourage preservice teachers to think critically about technology’s impact on society so that they can facilitate this kind of critical thinking with their students. Discussing YA novels that feature Internet Communication Technologies, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence can open up important discussions.
  4. 4. Research Question How do preservice teachers develop critical digital literacies and teaching practices through designing lesson plans on young adult literature?
  5. 5. Review of Prior Research Critical Digital Literacies enable development of: ● “Crucially adaptive competencies” (Blevins, 2018) ● “Innovative thinking, critical thinking, communication, digital citizenship, self-regulated learning, and (computer-supported) collaborative learning” (van de Oudeweetering & Voogt, 2018, p. 116). ● Collaboration learning and sharing of technological skills to identify and redress group inequalities (“critical metacognitive pedagogy”) (Voss, 2018)
  6. 6. Review of Prior Research ● Assess cultural and social lenses used in readings and student writing (Greene, Seung, & Copeland, 2014). ● Exploration of social justice issues (Hughes & Morrison, 2014), political rhetoric (Sulzer, 2018), and feminist theory (Hutchison & Novotny, 2017) within the classroom.
  7. 7. Review of Prior Research Facilitate discussions of: ● Consent and user agency (Hutchison and Novotny (2017) ● Learning and sharing of technological skills and to redress group inequalities (Voss 2018) ● Current inequitable and exclusionary practices in education, multilingual and multiculturally inclusive classroom practices, and empowerment practices of literacy within minority groups (Camilly- Trulio & Romer-Peretti, 2017; Price-Dennis, Holmes, & Smith).
  8. 8. Review of Prior Research Critical digital literacies provide a valuable framework for examining teaching practices (Watulak and Kinzer, 2013): ● Cultural, social, and historical contexts within technology use ● Ethical technological usage ● Critical and reflective analysis
  9. 9. Methods ● Case Study ● Setting: research university ● Participants: 8 preservice teachers who took an undergraduate English Teaching course, Teaching Young Adult Literature ● Collected course assignments: Beginning of Semester Questionnaire, Book Reviews for Scythe and Warcross, Technology in YA lesson plan assignment, End of Semester Questionnaire
  10. 10. Methods ● Key project was Technology in YA: preservice teachers created rational, assignment sheet, and rubric for a project their secondary students would do after reading either Scythe or Warcross ● 4 participants did Technology in YA project independently, so their assignments were analyzed. Other 4 participants did project with a group, but since not all group members gave informed consent, their projects were not analyzed. ● Researchers coded data independently and compared coding to resolve any disagreements
  11. 11. Methods ● Data coded using framework for critical digital literacies from Watulak and Kinzer (2013): ○ Understanding cultural, social, and historical contexts of technology use ○ Critical thinking and analysis ○ Reflective practice ○ Facility with the functional skills and tools of digital technology production
  12. 12. Results ● Participants reported that getting experience designing an assignment for their future students was useful. ● Multiple participants commented that digital technology is such an important part of life today that digital tools should be examined critically. ● One participant said that the Technology in YA assignment “helped me to remember that we should create bridges between literature and the real world.”
  13. 13. Results - Technology in YA Projects ● Leo - Picking the Backbrain: Patron Historic ○ Research a historical figure and write a persuasive essay defending the choice of this figure for their Patron Historic, modeled after Citra’s speech to the Scythedom defending her choice of Anastasia ○ Students must use digital tools to research and think critically about what this person did that makes them worthy of being a Patron Historic
  14. 14. Results - Technology in YA Projects ● Rachel - Guess the Character ○ Students pick a character from Scythe, make a poster with 5 symbols representing the character, then present poster to class to see if classmates can guess character from symbols ○ Students also write an essay explaining why they chose those 5 symbols to represent the character
  15. 15. Results - Technology in YA Projects ● Megan - Scythe, Technology, and Me ○ Students read privacy policy for Google to see how their data could be used. Find three online sources and then write paper or make a presentation on how criminals and public agencies could gather and use their data and information - even in ways that are legal. ○ Students challenged to consider issues of privacy and social implications of data collection and use.
  16. 16. Results - Technology in YA Projects ● John - Technology in Warcross and Right or Wrong ○ Students research technology we have that is in novel, such as VR or online gaming. Then students will choose whether Emika or Hideo is morally correct on Hideo’s proposed use for the NeuroLink to prevent crime. Students present research and opinion in an essay. ○ Student have to critically think about the moral issue underlying Hideo’s plan - using technology for social control vs. free will.
  17. 17. Results ● Throughout the Technology in YA projects and other assignments collected, preservice teachers thought of ways to get their future students to think critically about the social and ethical implications of digital technologies, consistent with Watulak and Kinzer’s (2013) call to “emphasize the critical understanding of and engagement with technology skills within the broader contexts of technology use.”
  18. 18. Results ● Preservice teachers thought of ways to get their future students to confront head on ethical dilemmas proposed by novels: Internet safety, control vs. free will, could AI run things better than humans, should we work towards more powerful tools like the Thunderhead, hacking, privacy, team work vs. working alone. ● YA novels can enable critical thinking and discussion of these important issues.
  19. 19. Results ● As one participant put it, these novels enable us to discuss “relationship between people and technology. Who is ‘good’ and who is ‘bad’ in varying world of humans vs. machines?” ● Reading and teaching YA can be about discussing issues facing the world, not just building skills. After all, tools and skills have social, cultural, and ethical implications.
  20. 20. Questions? Contact Information ● Amy Piotrowski ○ Email: ○ Twitter: @piotrowskiamy ○ Website: ● Amanda Plaizier ○ Email: