Digital Transformation Infographic Interview

Mariana Ferrarelli: “Data literacy is an actual eye-opener”

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Interview

mSchools
Although we know that a “literate” person is not defined merely by their reading, writing and math knowledge, we wonder what’s the necessary knowledge someone should have to learn, work and live nowadays in a society that has been digital for decades.
Mariana Ferrarelli
This is a big question, I’d say it’s The Question with capital Q because in essence, every society defines, at the different stages of its development, a series of knowledge, values, and competences that make up the basic know-how allowing for an active participation in the economic, social and cultural life.

Currently, and especially from the pandemic onwards, the digitization of daily life has accelerated and therefore there has been a change in the nature of the knowledge and skills needed in order to function with certain efficiency in the daily exchanges.

Personally, I’m interested in talking about augmented literacies to refer to a set of sensitivities, intuitions, competences, and knowledge that we need every day to interact with others on digital platforms as well as in analog daily life. Both the technological change and the acceleration produced by information overload raise questions concerning how much of that change is inevitably dragging us and how much we can question, resist and even interpellate from each community’s local culture, from each school and classroom.

The fact that something is new doesn´t necessarily mean that it’s better than what we had, that’s why it’s worthwhile to stop and think, and contextualize the mutations promised by platforms. The sole idea of stopping to reflect is a skill that can be practiced and decided. Empowering ourselves as users choosing where and why to participate, deciding how to carry out our exchanges, what contents to read or see beyond the algorithmic regulation are collective and conscious daily exercises. In every case, they are learnings that are built gradually and that bring into play the old and the new and the possible associations established subjectively in a situated and specific context.

Teaching and learning, working or interacting in the new ultradigitized scenarios implies not only incorporating instrumental technical knowledge but also self-regulating our subjectivity to answer with emotional responsibility to the constant stimuli and the message overload. The augmented literacies are proposed as an articulation among varied skills: social, civic, expressive, play, data, narrative, and information skills. For instance, data literacy has become very important in the past few years, and this has become clear with the pandemic.
mSchools
How would you define data literacy and why is it important to incorporate this perspective in the classroom? What are your reflections about it?
Mariana Ferrarelli
In order to define data literacy I particularly like Carolina Gruffat’s definition: it implies “accessing, interpreting, critically assessing, handling and using data ethically” and it also includes a set of cross-cutting skills that aren’t merely technical such as socio emotional and cognitive skills. That is to say, the datafied society needs empowered subjects that can strengthen their learnings and dare to understand the reality in its multiple dimensions, with its complexity and difficulties; subjects that aren’t always in line with the latest trends, and in some cases, are resisting the blows of infoxication, acceleration, and fake news.

This opens up several possibilities for the classroom because we can establish a dialogue between any of the topics we need to teach and some of the portals offering databases to deepen the didactic approach with students: gender issues, tourism, transport, cultural consumption, human rights, etc. At this moment I am working with my secondary students on a proposal that explores their media practices and aims at generating visualizations to compare the cultural consumption quantity and quality in different social media: Instagram, Tik Tok, YouTube, Twitch, etc.
mSchools
What is this classroom project about? Tell us more. Were there any obstacles when working with this topic in the classroom? Which ones?
Mariana Ferrarelli
It’s a project we started in 2015 with the math teacher at the school when I was working as a digital facilitator. She would deal with statistics and data processing and I’d contribute with basic notions of Excel and data visualization. Students had to complete a grid where they reported their daily digital media and social media consumption. The biggest difficulty in this case was to be able to record the effective usage time of the different apps: some cell phones showed the exact social media consumption and others didn't. So we downloaded Quality Time on some devices, an application that precisely allows you to monitor phone usage in real time. There was a tremendous surprise… because many of them (of us) thought their phone usage was much lower than what was actually shown. At that moment we worked with visualizations in Excel and Google Sheets, comparing characteristics and differences of each one, etc. We also made posters and analog exercises on paper.

In our current project I am the classroom teacher and I am assisted by the Computer Science teacher, who also has a BA in Information Systems. In Sociology we worked with qualitative and quantitative research methods last year; for example, with this same group we conducted surveys on different topics (alcohol consumption, social media uses during the pandemic, time spent preparing exams, etc.). Our current challenge is to work with open databases departing from a research question we propose to explore. Last year we dealt with topics that were more related to adolescence and school issues. However, this year the idea is to explore more general topics and to use data to learn about the different dimensions of a single problem: the environment, gender violence, analog cultural consumptions (movies, theater, books), etc. The main obstacle I found was accessing databases that would allow us to work with the topics and questions raised by the students. But this was quickly solved thanks to the enriching and powerful experiences I came across while searching for resources, which helped me to imagine my own proposal and adapt it to my context and possibilities.
mSchools
What were the findings of the project? How did students react to this topic?
Mariana Ferrarelli
About my role as a teacher, it was very useful to ask for help: I realized how valuable it is to find resources and people who can help, give advice, share a reading or a proposal. Being someone who trains teachers and gives them support in their classes and projects, now I had to find someone’s support for a new adventure. And it turned out very well since I was able to get in touch with wonderful colleagues who are still providing me with the groundwork that I need to develop the project.
About the student’s process, I included a final meta cognitive activity in order to start a conversation on how they found this new approach. As a result, there was a strong sense of authenticity in the proposal, the feeling of investigating real world topics with real world tools. All of this brings them closer to their future university and work prospects: working with databases from official websites of different organizations, experiencing the need to work in groups and to agree on working guidelines, and dealing with a topic coming from their own interests.

Interviewed

Mariana Ferrarelli

Mariana Ferrarelli has a BA in Communication Sciences (UBA) and a Masters in Scientific Research Methodology (UNLa). She works as an undergraduate and graduate professor and is a techno-pedagogical consultant in different institutions where she designs and supports digital projects.
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Educational transformation Interview

How to incorporate educational technology from scratch?

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Corina Rogovsky  coordinates the Education Technology Department  at the La Salle Argentina network and, specifically at the La Salle Florida school, in Buenos Aires, Argentina La Salle Schools are present in 82 countries, and have been in Argentina for more than 100 years. Their learning methodology is based on the culture of thinking and on the permanent training of teachers.

In this interview, Corina talks about her first steps working at the Florida school , where she organized the incorporation of educational technology from scratch, and explains the strategies she chose and the resources she optimized. She also shares resources and advice to strategically and significantly incorporate educational technology in schools.

Speaker

Corina Rogovsky

She coordinates the Department of Innovation and Educational Technology at La Salle Organization and is also the coordinator of Educational Technology at La Salle Florida School.

Corina Rogovsky holds a Master in Educational Technology from the U.B.A, a BA in Communication Sciences (U.B.A), and is a Specialist in Education and New Technologies (FLACSO) and in Educational Technology (U.B.A). She is a Hebrew teacher, a non-formal educator and advises educational institutions on Educational Technology. She coordinates the Department of Innovation and Educational Technology at La Salle Organization and is also the coordinator of Educational Technology at La Salle Florida School.

She is in charge of the Pedagogical Management of the Higher Diploma in Education and New Technologies at Pent Flacso and is a professor in that project. She is a member of the Research team, author of courses and formative experiences, and professor of UNC Masters and Flacso Uruguay.
She is coauthor of the book How to teach learning. Education, Innovation, and Technology in times of crises.
Social-Emotional Learning Interview

Eva Bach: “Without emotional health, there is no health, wellbeing or academic performance”.

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Eva Bach is a pioneer in introducing emotional education in the learning and family environments in Cataluña as well as other autonomous communities in Spain. Teacher, trainers’ trainer and writer, she specializes in personal development, emotional intelligence, communication, and interpersonal relations.

mSchools talked to Eva about the importance of socio-emotional education.

The importance of social-emotional education

mSchools
Eva, what do you consider to be our starting point in education?
Eva Bach Cobacho
We come from an education model that has prioritized, and still does, reason over emotion, wisdom and knowledge over feelings and sensitivity. We have encouraged accomplishments and milestones or external motivations, leaving personal needs, feelings, and internal wellbeing behind. This is a big and serious mistake since academic titles hanging on walls are not of much use when adversity knocks on your door, or when we have a collective crash such as the Covid-19 Pandemic, or when we suffer personal crises or relationship conflicts. Neuroscience has shown that having a high IQ, a privileged mind or a brilliant academic trajectory will not guarantee “success” in life, understanding by success a life lived with meaning, balance, and personal and social wellbeing. And on the contrary, not having great academic results will not make us unhappy or imply negative life results.
mSchools
So, where are we now?
Eva Bach Cobacho
Even though scientific evidence shows that it is as important to learn to think and reason properly as it is to learn how to develop emotional intelligence, we often continue to teach as if we didn't know that. We lack knowledge and conscience about what emotions represent and how we should address them. Often, there is no emotional maturity to do this. The fear of self-knowledge, along with a lack of sensitivity and self-responsibility about these topics, stops us from taking the necessary chances to develop emotional education. When, despite all these barriers, we manage to do it, we often fail in the “hows” , not having adequate procedures and resources. We miss information, awareness and training, not only in a professional and psycho-pedagogical way, since individual emotional growth is also needed.
mSchools
According to your knowledge and experience, why do we need emotional education?
Eva Bach Cobacho
There is enough evidence to support that emotional education favors physical and mental health, self-knowledge, self-esteem, empathy, and that it also improves personal life and relationships.. It can also help prevent violence and risky behaviors, improving social and personal wellbeing, it continues to create more positive and solid group environments and, pay attention to this, it can also help improve learning and academic outcomes. This happens at every vital and educational stage, and for people of every age.
mSchools
What are the conditions needed to achieve it?
Eva Bach Cobacho
There are some basic requirements for these results to happen and last , for example the continuity in time of different programs and their evaluation, training of teachers and other educational agents in charge of the implementation as well as the involvement and support from every area besides the school, including the family and the community. The whole educational community needs to be involved in this, from management teams to educational administration, and, above all, families. The methodology used is also key to elaborating programs and activities.
mSchools
What happens if we don’t involve emotions in education?
Eva Bach Cobacho
Emotional education is key because without emotional health there will be no health, wellbeing, or academic performance. A person who is emotionally blocked is also emotionally annulled, as the Spanish doctor Mario Alonso says. There is evidence that general performance peaks are obtained with a medium level of emotional activation. Without emotions, there is no motivation, and there are no results. Where there is an excess of emotions, if the person is overflown by emotions, there are no results eithers. The works of the psychology professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi have shown that the best result is obtained in what are called “flow states”. These are states in which you make an effort without perceiving it because emotions are in harmony, in a perfect balance, accompanying and strengthening one another.
mSchools
What are the basic socioemotional skills to turn into an emotionally competent teacher?
Eva Bach Cobacho
Having socioemotional skills isn't optional for neither faculty nor families. It is socially and morally necessary , since the first hints of emotional maturity for children are perceived in the adults they grow up with.
Let's have in mind that we are constantly doing emotional education, even if not formally or intentionally. When educating there is always emotional transmission, whether explicit or not, healthy, or unhealthy. This is because there are two types of emotional education: part of the official curriculum, which happens during the established time and within formal programs, and relational, which happens all the time, without needing official programs, through plain human contact and osmosis, . The best emotional education program in the world couldfail if whoever is applying it is emotionally incompetent.
Basic social emotional skills of faculty work around the 3 main axes of emotional competence, these must be applied and adapted to the classrooms:
Intrapersonal dimension: to feel good with oneself, with one's emotions and ways of feeling. Applied to the classrooms it means, among others, to know how to identify, express, contain and transform emotions or emotional states in a proper way, such as to avoid projecting them or transferring them to the students.
Interpersonal dimension: to have proper relation and communication skills, to feel good with others and to make others feel good with us. Applied to the classrooms it means, among others, to communicate and educate using emotions in a sound way , to empathize and to consider the student's esteem, to be emotionally in sync with the group, to maintain our own center, to know how to see and promote talents and skills for both, groups and individuals, and to know how to identify, express, contain and transform emotions and emotional group states. Or at least, to not make them worse with one's own.
Ethical and social or eco-social dimension: to leave a positive mark in our path, to contribute with health and global emotional sustainability through our actions and presence in the world. Applied to the classrooms this means, among others, that what we are as humans sustains , reinforces and guides to the best possible outcome what we do as professionals, such as the ability to spread nice emotions in the educational context and to create positive, motivational, powerful, and fruitful education environments.
mSchools
What are the fundamental skills and concepts for a social emotional education?
Eva Bach Cobacho
These axes include skills such as: self-knowledge, self-consciousness and self-emotional regulation, also self-esteem, empathy, assertiveness, affective relations, resilience, self-motivation, teamwork, proper conflict management, appreciative and enabling outlook, affective and effective communication, gratitude, inner peace, etc. These skills are the basis of a teacher´s wellbeing and they need four main areas to develop correctly: healthy affectivity, emotional growth, complex thinking and pedagogical and vital optimism.
mSchools
To finish, James Funes in the prologue of the book co written with Montse Jimenez “Mothers, Fathers and Influencers” (Ed Grijalbo 2019), asks how we should keep educating in new realities, since wanting it or not, we are educating digital teenagers who live in virtual and present dimensions simultaneously
Eva Bach Cobacho
We must make a constant readaptation effort for the ever changing and complex world we live in. Listen more to our younger population and, not only teach them, but let ourselves be taught by them sometimes as well.
Curriculum focuses on innovation and motivation but there is one essential thing that continues to be left out : Life, with capital letters, what happens inside and among people, what moves us in our daily life and during interactions with others and the world.
To have emotional intelligence and social skills are two of the great skills needed to succeed in a job and in a future that seems to be more and more robotic. We need to think about how to develop these global competences that make us grow as professionals and as people. ourselves, not only how children can develop them. This will surely happen if we redefine the learning environments. . To change this may mean to break certain rigid aspects that are still present in the school environment. If not , the gap between the four walls in the classroom and the reality outside will grow bigger.
To educate digital teenagers that live in the present and virtual dimensions, we discuss the need to educate in hybrid values that arise from transcending and merging dualities that have been dissociated, when not opposed. It is the symbiosis era among concepts, entities, attitudes, and skills that can no longer work on their own. In person or virtually, neural education, reason and emotion, homo sapiens and homo sentients, information-biology-society with technology, schools and companies, people and robots, human intelligence and algorithms, augmented reality and physical reality. According to the French philosopher Edgar Morin, we need to substitute the isolating and separating thought for the thought that discerns and connects.

Author

Eva Bach Cobacho

Eva Bach is a pioneer in introducing emotional education in the learning and family environments in Cataluña as well as other autonomous communities in Spain. Teacher, trainers’ trainer and writer, she specializes in personal development, emotional intelligence, communication, and interpersonal relations.
Read more