Determining ‘Everyday Digital’.

Look familiar? Image Credit: https://d1srlirzdlmpew.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/92/2016/04/06022356/connected-kids-FB.jpg

Ask yourself this question; “what do kids REALLY do on their mobile devices when at home?

What does your mind jump to? Is it the negative? Is it the positive? Is it leaning towards social media use? Online bullying? Creating? Consuming? If not, what else?

Since the beginning of October this year I have had 2 wonderful teachers from my school involved in a collaborative project involving several other educational settings whilst being led by Deakin University.

The project titled, “Everyday Digital”, was charged with researching specific ways to support educators in learning about the everyday digital experiences of their students. Researchers from Deakin worked with teachers and educators to invent and devise ways in which teachers could learn more about their student’s digital use in and out of school, with the aim of developing appropriate curriculum and school based policy responses.

Last Friday was the final gathering of all involved to come together and discuss what had been found, as well as some of the key ‘next steps’ that potentially could be undertaken by schools to alleviate concerns, begin conversations or take action where necessary.

As each setting shared, we were charged with focusing on 3 key takeaways from what was discovered which would form the basis of further discussion. The lead researcher from Deakin University who oversaw the project, Dr. Julian Sefton-Green, mentioned that research in this space was vastly limited and that there were no “good” examples of research that had been conducted in this area. To read a publication from Dr. Julian Sefton-Green head to this link.

As people from the various settings were sharing, along with the Deakin University Research Team, it was reassuring in a way to hear that the issues faced and concerns had were common amongst one another. That what is faced each and everyday by some could be quite easily resonated with by others. Rather than give an indepth analysis as to what was discussed, I have highlighted the key discussion points and takeaways

  • An increasing amount of time spent on mobile technology is passive, meaning that students are not being the creators and critical thinkers we potentially want them to be. At home use is heavily geared to watching, viewing and browsing. I.e. YouTube, Vimeo, etc…
  • That there is a need for us as educators to identify what needs to be explicitly taught to students vs. what needs to be integrated and or embedded. An example of this is cybersafety and digital citizenship.
  • Clearer expectations must be identified between what is expected at school when technology is used and what can be done at home. Either way, one side of that home/school fence is too lax with what is appropriate behaviour from students when engaging in online activity.
  • There is a heavy perception that parents/caregivers are leaving it up to schools to educate students about not only what appropriate online behaviour looks like, but also what is appropriate fullstop. And is this our job?
  • Students, more so in upper primary and secondary, can easily identify and articulate what appropriate behaviour and technology use/online use looks like, however, rarely put it in to practice.
  • The divide between school and home is either growing or stagnant in its development to work in tandem to educate and combat tech based and online issues.
  • Traditional forms of technology, even at home are diminishing. Desktop computers are falling by the wayside to more mobile means in the forms of netbooks, laptops and of course tablets.
  • There are still a major issues within education regarding teacher knowledge of effective technology use and integration.
  • That even as great as BYOD programs are for schools, as students get older and move through their respective year levels (secondary school), there is a major shift towards devices being used a lot more for personal purposes than for actual learning. Social media is playing a large part in this.
  • As educators how do we contextualise the use of technology with our students through modelling how we as teachers and leaders use technology? Is how we use technology all that different from how students use technology? I.e. Netflix, Streaming, Social Media, etc…
  • Enthusiasm is high amongst educators to use the technology and use it well with purpose, however there is a lot of hesitation and anxiety from schools as to how to best do this.
  • Primary settings appear to be more advanced at both using technology more effectively whilst also having the teachers with the capacity to integrate the technology more effectively, however primary schools seem uncertain as to where to draw the line with over use. Or, as was mentioned, perhaps in 2017 there is no line. 

In listening to all people share their findings it was evident that there were two main factors that stood out. These being, CULTURE and TRUST.

Schools who had a more developed mindset in working with students and their families around effective and appropriate technology use had an embedded culture and vision around technology use. It was this culture that fostered a greater trust between home and school and that students who were trusted to be doing not necessarily the right thing all the time on their devices, but more so trusted to not be doing the wrong or inappropriate thing.

Partnerships with parents and caregivers were also much higher in schools where technology issues were lower. This went beyond parent information nights and guest speakers, this involved parents as partners in their child’s education around how to access and engage in online activity that does not compromise an individual’s ‘moral compass’. I.e. Knowing that engaging in something inappropriate is not the right thing and that if they do, there can be quite severe consequences that come their way. I.e. Sexting. 

To contextualise the research undertaken from my own schools perspective, which was lead and developed by again, two great teachers (in Kaitlin and Josh), we can see that the data obtained trends in a similar fashion to what was discussed amongst all settings involved. You can see this data below.

 


Technology At Home – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires;

On the back of this, all teachers in the year 3/4 area had students developing a project/presentation to highlight how app’s they enjoy using outside of school could possibly be used in school. App’s such as Terraria, Minecraft, Flow, and YouTube for Kids were some just to name a few.

I have linked the Adobe Spark Page created by Kaitlin below which highlights the expected outcomes we were hoping to achieve for the students.

Deakin Research Project – Teach the Teacher

Now that we all have a better understanding from what was undertaken, the overarching question is what do we do about it? Something in which I certainly do not have the answer to. A segway from here is that in March 2018 I will be hosting a roundtable discussion the National Future Schools Expo and Conference about this exact problem of practice! Hopefully I might see you there, giving the rest of use your answers! 🙂 

I would love to hear your thoughts and or comments about this topic and how you at your setting bridge that gap between home and school. How do we ensure are students are being safe, creative and using technology with a safe mindset as well as how do we get our parental community on board!

As always, thanks for reading.

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