Social-Emotional Learning Article

With whom we learn in the digital world

Share
  1. New learning opportunities and new digital divides.

We are living in a historical moment where it is easier to learn practically anything: how to make a cooking recipe, how to play a musical instrument, how to speak a foreign language. This is mainly because technology helps us access different kinds of information (in multiple languages and platforms), build knowledge,  and share it with the rest of the world. And we are not learning alone. Social technologies are increasingly present in our society and they offer new possibilities to live learning, communication, and culture.

Every technological advance within our reach offers new opportunities, creating a new culture around it. Applications, software, and their growing accessibility make a long-time dream of many educators’ possible: to facilitate personalized learning and to develop it both at a social and networking level. Also collectives with intellectual or physical disabilities, have now more opportunities to be connected and learn together.

Digital education implies developing competences that enable us, by using  knowledge, to choose how we want to live culture and practice digital citizenship. There are, however, three divides that need to be counteracted, especially in the most vulnerable social groups: access divide (to have access to devices such as a cell phones, tablets, computers); use divide (to have the skills to use applications and manage content); and purpose of use divide (to make a purposeful, sovereign, and ethical use) of the digital world. We usually pay more attention to the first divide because it is the most visible one, but dealing only with it doesn’t ensure our right to a good digital education.

  1. We learn with digital education.

Digital education, as well as its hybrid face-to-face virtual format, is applied largely at schools and high schools to help students’ development in the current society. This is not the society we adults grew up in. Nowadays we have a new communicational, relational, and cognitive ecosystem. But it’s not about choosing between books and screens: now we can educate so as to get the most out of books, screens, and the new culture resulting from that interaction. The educator must know and be familiar with these media, and the best way to achieve that is using them to share experiences, resources, and learning projects.

Faced with the possibility to access information practically every time and everywhere, we have to develop a critical ability to become active and responsible citizens, and not just information and product consumers. It is necessary to work on the treatment of information and the communicative competence in order to understand and make explicit all ideological, political, and economic interests that are implicit in the messages we send and receive. At the same time we need to know how to manage privacy (know what we are sharing), security (to avoid and deal with risky situations), and how to be critical with information, knowing its cultural and consuming values.

Students need to be able to learn how to think in the current context and to act accordingly. Although the digital medium is very rich, education is necessary to tackle elements such as fake news, cyberbullying, digital identity, hate speech, emotions in social media, sustainability, data sovereignty, and algorithmic bias. We know that this environment will be increasingly more complex with the development of quantum computing, blockchain, artificial intelligence, robotics, biotechnology, metaverses or certain social control mechanisms on platforms that are immersed in the economy of attention and vigilance. 

Many youngsters have been protagonists of digital education by teaching their families how to use communicative tools like video calls. During the COVID pandemic we could witness how digital tools were used to maintain ties and to give emotional support in situations of uncertainty, anxiety, and grief. Many children saw their mothers and fathers work and parents saw their sons and daughters learn in a different way: through active learning, new interfaces, digital portfolios, collaborative methodologies, and virtual environments. Emergency remote education didn’t happen in an ideal scenario, but it seems that from now onwards we will have to coexist with a hybrid system.

  1. We learn within the family environment

Consuming content doesn’t mean knowing and making a competent use of the tools we have. In fact we must help families to intergenerationally educate one another, in a natural and knowledgeable way. The traditions, habits, and values within the family environment, the place where we usually spend more time, are key elements. It is increasingly necessary to have a global vision focused on the process of education and accompaniment, and not so much on a device or specific age. Another important point to consider is the difficulty of balancing schedules, since we can’t foresee everything, and we must learn to deal with daily contingencies. In an increasingly digitized society, it is essential to educate on issues concerning connectivity as well as to learn to get offline when it’s convenient.

Considering a scenario where everything is connected, our main challenge is to achieve families’ digital literacy. That’s not an easy goal to accomplish since the digital environment is in constant change, and because in spite of the good initiatives, there is no consensus on who will lead them or carry them out. Digital literacy of families is very important because of, at least, three reasons: it empowers families when faced with digital media, it enables them to help the young ones build criteria using their knowledge, and it demands both companies and institutions an ethical, informed, and transparent use.

Families are diverse. Some of them understand their responsibility and take the time to get  informed about these issues. They conduct a periodic monitoring of the inquired content or the Internet activities. They look for alternative spaces, activities, and time free from technology, respecting meal times and sleep hours. Others go to the opposite extreme, managing their children’s school homework without realizing that might be overprotective. Some families ask for miracle formulas that may help them with this management. In some cases, fear of possible dangers leads to  parental prohibition. In others, inhibition makes them turn a blind eye.  It’s even more complex to make the conscious choice of creating focused offline and online spaces when concerning dysfunctional families and when there aren’t any agreed criteria of technology use. 

Neither prohibiting nor allowing everything. The right choice, as usual, is to educate. How can we achieve that? Sharing experiences between grown-ups and children to develop criteria. Giving them support to prevent them from being digital orphans who know how to use the tools but don’t understand their implications. Developing a healthy digital diet with reasoned rules that can be agreed and revised regularly. Working on responsible and autonomous access to the Internet, social media, touch tablets, or cell phones from early childhood. If necessary, using tools such as filters or parental control, though the best way to monitor should always be done by people.

  1. We learn with our peers

Humanity is more connected than ever before. Many of our daily activities are digitized: communicating, reading, traveling, playing, learning. More precisely, many young people use the digital environment to search news, develop their creativity, live their emotions, get socially involved, and experiment and build their identity. That’s why it seems natural, and even more so in pandemic times, that they want to use the Internet to socialize with their peers.

They can take advantage of an ever-growing networked society to learn from and with others. They can meet people who will help them integrate the new formative opportunities, such as adults who are also articulating networks of interests where they collaborate to build knowledge. Young people must  learn not only how to be present but also how to set up these virtual spaces so as to generate scenarios of significant learning.

How to know where they are and what they are doing? More than controlling (which is impossible), the best way is talking, being close, and trying to put into practice the elements of the following formula. If we work on these elements, which are actually very little technological, we will probably succeed. However, it is true that there is no guarantee because there are no magic formulas to educate.

  1. We learn with the whole society

When problems arise, it is easier to look for external factors: the use of the Internet, the cell phone or social media; however, a bad use is sometimes a symptom that something is wrong. It’s very common to associate lonely people with the use of technologies when it is exactly the opposite. We also need to know that technologies are not neutral and their own design can influence processes, how we think, and how we feel. That is why we should get educated in this environment and get all the social agents actively involved. 

As educators, we always say that “it takes a village to raise a child” when we want to highlight the importance that every member of a community has, since we are all responsible for educating, and not just those involved specifically in the education field. This includes communication media, private companies, and public institutions. Everybody is responsible for building a new social consensus which reconsiders our relation with technologies and for defining how our digital world will be.

In order to go along this path, together with the sociologist Liliana Arroyo, we developed the New Digital Culture Manifesto https://manifestoculturadigital.wordpress.com/. Our intention is to help build awareness on how the constant technological advances affect us in different areas such as politics, health, or economy. These changes imply a great opportunity to design a new digital culture that can develop a better society. To achieve it, we need to reflect, share, and connect people and entities that may enable us to act from an ethical, reflective, and informed perspective.

About the author

Jordi Jubany i Vila

Teacher and Anthropologist. Trainer and advisor in digital competence, culture and citizenship. Author of “Hyperconnected? Educating us in a digital world”(Lectio, 2018) and“ Social and Personalized Learning ”(Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, 2012). He collaborates with institutions, universities and the media in different countries. Co-author of the Manifesto for a New Digital Culture.
Read more
Digital culture
Digital wellbeing
Digital education
Empathy
Digital fracture
Emotional health
Design Thinking Article

EDhack – Design Thinking in a vibrant and memorable learning environment

Share

The origin of the term Hackaton comes from hacker and programmer communities, referring to the encounters organized to create new apps and solutions to problems or challenges. The term integrates two concepts: first marathon, meaning you won’t win, you will enjoy, improve, overcome a challenge. Second, hacker, meaning a person that defies status quo, who does not settle, who creates, resolves, compromises and someone who is always learning. If we take both things into account, adapting a hackaton to the education sector enables us to maximize the experience and results, creating an environment filled with motivation. We include a methodology fit to get the students to generate new ideas through a creative process, and also, that allows them to overcome their fear of making mistakes and appreciate contributions, whether they are their own or the ones made by their group, during the process of creating solutions and prototypes.

 Our proposal is the EdHack project, designed by Bofill Foundation. It includes a methodology and values inspired in the hacker culture and Design Thinking, making a connection with those educational transformtions we are going through. This is, learning while doing, taking advantage of passions and curiosity, having a community approach or accepting mistakes as a source of significant learning. The main ingredients that make EdHack are limited time in the creation steps, quick decisions that look for efficiency, taking risks without the fear of making mistakes, constant learning to improve solutions and creative freedom. The participants (Edhackers) decide everything, in a flat organization, so there are no barriers because the values are on passion and the commitment of working in teams and in an open way. They can make experiments since the prototyping of solutions allows you to think with your hands. All of this in an environment in which passion and teamwork are encouraged to improve by collaborating, learning and building through empathizing with the beneficiary of the challenge.

We can assure you it works!

There have been encounters in Barcelona´s Raval neighborhood, in Girona, Tarrega and Reus, where very young users have worked nonstop for two days with incredible energy and excitement and accomplished highly satisfactory results. Edhack has also inspired some projects in learning centers where Design Thinking invites students to create ideas that can respond to the real challenges of their surroundings.. Some examples of these projects are Jo puc canviar-ho in Mataró, with the GEM Foundation and Iluro Foundation, in which 15-16 years-old students go from the complaint to the proposal stage by building projects to improve the city. The IES Monturiol in Figueres has developed Icaria educational proposals through the Musseu de lemporda and high complexity IES Cendrassos has built the Pligoniga project, a proposal which involves all lines in 1 ESO to give solutions to challenges linked to the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Shall we start? 

Edhack with its design thinking inspired proposal offers educators a methodology that speeds ability-based learning and helps make innovation tangible in the classrooms.

Author

Pep Marés

A graduate in History from the University of Girona and a Master in Cultural Management and Communication from the University of Barcelona, Pep has more than 15 years of experience in cultural management. His professional career spans between private enterprise and cultural management, participating in corporate social return projects, sponsorship and development of innovation strategy projects and positioning of cultural entities.
Read more
Co-creation
Learning experiences design
Scientific method
Empathy
Ideation
Project-based learning
Service learning
Media Literacy Article

Jose Puig I Cadalfach Institute: “Our students weren’t aware of the dangers behind misinformation”

Share

Our Institute, the Jose Puig i Cadafalch Institute, is a teaching community. The learning process of our students is extremely important to us but we strongly believe that it has to go along with proper behavior models, a great amount of autonomy and a sense of responsibility. In this regard, one of the main goals of our institute is to favor the students’ access to digital technologies, and to help them relate in the healthiest way possible with mobile devices and their  apps.

These cross-cutting learnings are meant to be strengthened through the  long-term project “Digital Media Awareness” that has been implemented , with our Erasmus+ platform international partners, . This project, with English as the working language, provides the students with a space to research and learn about current ICT related subjects.  This space allows them to share common thoughts and worries with their international classmates, and discuss  important subjects such as misinformation, fingerprints, digital identity and digital fingerprints, as well as hate speeches and cyberbullying. The project Fake News has been developed together with 4th year ESO (secondary) students.  They have created workshops and dynamics, to develop during the visit of their international classmates, and to work in the classrooms with the younger students from the school

When the Fake News workshop started,all students from the Institute and all participating students from international schools that are part of the program were surveyed. Results showed the lack of knowledge and awareness about the dangers behind misinformation, the lack of analysis and revision of accessible information, andand what we can do to spot false content in time.

Once the Project ended, the same survey confirmed that the 4th year ESO students had increased their awareness on these issues and how to act on them. It was highly rewarding to see how their work had an impact on their behavior and their use of information sources. The rest of the surveyed students showed a fundamental change in their knowledge of this phenomenon and how they perceived themselves as agents involved in the fight against misinformation.

We are aware that we need to continue working and creating materials that can be used in the classrooms. Due to the wide range of possibilities to apply these workshops we will continue to use them in our school, to educate new generations that arrive at 1st year ESO The materials and workshops will also continue to be available as information sources so other teachers in the Erasmus+ platforms can use them during their lessons. The result of this project has been a success and we are very satisfied. We have been able to create awareness in our students and have resources to form and educate them in the best possible way.

Author

Lorena Anido

She has a degree in English Philology from the University of Barcelona and a postgraduate degree in Business Techniques and Management and a Master's in Business Administration and Management (Executive MBA), also from the University of Barcelona. She is currently the coordinator of international projects and a teacher of English at the Josep Puig i Cadafalch Institute.
Read more
Digital literacy
Media literacy
Creativity
Digital skills
Collaboration
Digital citizenship
Critical thinking
Hybrid Education Article

Learning in times of COVID-19: Reflections by Manel Trenchs, a high school teacher

Aprenentatge híbrid
Share

The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus more than two years ago has caused a great deal of stress around learning at home and online. Suddenly, teachers from all over the world found themselves immersed in an unfamiliar scenario: how can we continue our teaching practice if we can’t go to school? I, as a teacher, can tell you that I remained, and still do, calm. Some will think, how is this possible?

Well, I’m calm because technology has allowed us to continue our teaching practice without interruptions. My students had and still have all the material and activities in the cloud, so they can access it from anywhere, anytime. In addition, I can access and contact them in a very easy way, and take care of all the activities.

Did we need to have a conversation about something? No had no problem. We used Google Hangouts, the tool we had already used during the course to talk to people from Japan, Peru, or even a sick student who couldn’t come to school.

I felt very reassured that we could continue with the learning because they already knew all these tools that enable us to do homework and work from the cloud, and therefore students had a basic digital competence to be able to manage everything. So my students and I, in that time of crisis and now, do not have to rush to find resources: we already have them.

Digital skills are habits. And like all habits, they require time. It is important and much more effective to apply good habits from the beginning of the course.

Manel Trenchs,

Art History teacher, Pia School, Mataró

 

There are many resources that we used, and still do, to manage class activities.

Do I have to make a list to be able to prepare assignments for the class? I share it via Google Classroom and give the students permission to edit and they. Need to share a document and work in groups? The students themselves make a doc with permission to edit between them.

Need to watch a video and answer some questions? We use EDpuzzle, which helps us to manage the answers, systematize the deliveries and incorporate all the important information for the teacher.

Need to do some content review? We use Socrative, Kahoot Challenge…Need to share a document in the cloud ? We can do it via Drive, for example.

In short, we did not do anything that we would not have done during the course. The only difference is that I was not present in class. This, however, is also noticeable. I want to say that it is not the ideal situation, of course. There is nothing like face-to-face contact with students. But it is not necessary to see each other every day. There are some classes that, at all costs, the same students want to do by Hangout as soon as possible to be able to see us and each other, even if it’s on the computer or mobile screen.

As a teacher, well, I was and am calm. During the pandemic, many colleagues wrote to me telling me that, in the midst of this crisis, they felt overwhelmed, with a great sense of loss of control. I have helped them and continue to do so as much as I can. But I regret to say that if you haven’t incorporated digital tools with time, and as a habit, it will be difficult for you to implement them now, all of a sudden.

Ultimately, digital skills are habits. And like all habits, they take time. It is important and much more effective to apply the “slowly” mindset, and create good habits from the beginning of the course, than to pretend that, suddenly, we are all experts because the urgency of the moment asks us to do so.

Article author

Manel Trenchs

Professor of Art History at the Pia School in Mataró. Google Innovator and Trainer and member of GE3 (Google Earth Education Experts), Google Local Guide Level 9. Adobe Creative Educator Level 1 & 2. Interested in rethinking learning, the use of ICT and all those educational aspects that serve to help improve the education of 21st century students.
Read more
Digital culture
Digital education
Social-Emotional Learning Article

Screen time in the covid age

Share

Michael Robb, director of Investigation in Common Sense Media explains the scientific reasons behind the new rules of screen time.

 Families and caregivers need to rethink the screen exposure children have, especially since the pandemic.

Quality over quantity

That is the question

What can we do from the schools?

Talk to children about their digital practices, help them alter its nature and question their beliefs about them.

IN This Common Sense Media article, a non profit organization, you will find key points to address this debate.

Access the article here
Digital culture
Digital education
Digital fracture