#I4ED, TechTask

Students and the Digital Age

For this blogpost, I have created a graphic that depicts what I think a Student Network would look like. Inspired by Building a PLE/PLN  – Be a Connected Educator! and the graphics therein, I have tried to reflect on what connections students make in their daily lives that influence them in some sort of way, and what their Personal Learning Environment and/or Network may look like. As you can see, there is a lot going on, and students need tools to be able to properly navigate and responsibly engage with the huge network of sources and resources available to them. As a teacher, it is therefore your responsibility to make students aware of the implications of being so connected to the digital world, and what they can do to become and stay responsible digital citizens.

This is especially important if you plan on using technology and digital resources in your classroom, and a good way of setting your students up for the school year, is by starting the year or semester off with a unit that includes outcomes dealing with Digital Citizenship and Digital Literacy. This type of unit can fit in just about any curriculum, as you can always customize the core content to suit your teachable subject while hitting curricular outcomes from the ICT curriculum as well. That is the beauty of digital literacy – it can be thought in conjunction with just about any subject, as the digital world is as versatile as the subjects you can teach as a teacher.

I want to share this fun little image I came across when finding sources for this post, as I think it is quite fitting in a way where lot of the things many teachers see as physical and hands-on activities, have largely moved to an online space now, adding all of these things into the networking repertoire many students (and teachers) have today.

Some of the main implications and concerns the digital world and vast connections our students are exposed to on a daily basis, are outlined in this infographic by Media Smarts. Misinformation is one of the top concerns parents have in terms of their kids’ digital well-being, and this pandemic has likely amplified that a lot in the past year or so, as people have been very divided over just about every single aspect of the pandemic and information surrounding it (i.e. anti-maskers, people believing it is a hoax, safety of vaccines, etc.). Over the last few years the popularity of conspiracy theories, fake news, and has sky rocketed, and in a lot of ways it has become harder and harder for the average person to distinguish between fact and fiction.

Another concern raised when it comes to kids’ digital well-being, is the excessive use of digital and online devices – and this, of course, has also sky rocketed with the pandemic, as most kids have – at least at some point, and to some extent – moved to remote learning, where they are using devices for several hours daily for educational purposes, in addition to the time they spend on devices for personal use. Both of these concerns can be addressed with proper education and awareness on digital practices and ICT, though, much like critical thinking and citizenship skills get infused in our curricula.

Education about proper digital sources and the ability to critically analyze information on digital media is not only a related to ICT, but practically any other subject taught in schools. It may be something that is most likely covered in more depth in an English Language Arts or ICT specific class, but a basic reminder of proper digital practices and instruction on critical review of sources is something that has to be taught for any research based task. Having students reflect on their device and digital media usage, providing resources to reduce excessive usage, as well as regularly incorporating mindfulness activities in your classroom, can also help your students gain more present moment awareness, and become more mindful of the time they spend digitally. If your students are learning remotely, you also need to be aware of the excessive time they are spending on devices, and allow for frequent breaks and work periods, and together create an environment that uses technology in a way where it is helpful, rather than harmful.

Sources:

Building a PLE/PLN – Be a Connected Educator!
https://mikenantais.wixsite.com/buedtech/getting-connected-ple-pln

Manitoba ICT Curriculum Framework
https://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/tech/index.html

The Digital Well-being of Canadian Families
https://mediasmarts.ca/sites/mediasmarts/files/publication-report/summary/infographic-digital-canadian-families.pdf

Vintage Social Networking
https://wronghands1.com/2013/03/31/vintage-social-networking/

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