For the final course project, we chose option 1 and collaboratively worked together to create a unit planner. We wanted to create a learning experience where young students could explore their digital identity and empower them to be active participators in the online community. We had chosen the digital citizen standards 2a, 2b and 2c to guide and direct our unit planning.
We thought about how we wanted students to demonstrate their understanding and application of the digital citizen standards. We came up with having students create a short video to introduce themselves to the rest of the class and build the classroom culture and community.
The creation of the video would raise different issues where students would need to stop and think about their actions. The first issue would be when students have to determine what kind of information they want to include in their video to introduce themselves. The second issue would be students deciding what kind of photos they would want to include in their video. With students being content creators, they are presented with real-world problems where they have to decide what they can ultimately can and cannot share online.
The collaborative project was a great opportunity to meet like-minded individuals who had similar desires in shifting and changing the way children engaged with technology. Even though we were from different places around the world, thanks to technology, we communicated through emails and conducted Zoom meetings. We were able to plan, discuss and design the unit planner during our Zoom meetings. When I think about it, it just amazes me! While we had not met in person, we were able to come together in a short period and design something meaningful. It was such a wonderful experience to bounce off ideas one another and draw insight from our varied experiences.
I was struck with the thought, “What if we provided this experience for our students?” It would be such a great experience if children could meet people from different walks of life or even other children from other countries and create something! My mind started being filled with endless possibilities. At the same time, my mind was also filled with various obstacles.
Technology has enabled us to connect to the rest of the world. How can we have our students take advantage of this? Instead of portraying the online world as one that we have to be wary of, how can we change its portrayal to colourful, vibrant and safe? How can we develop and spread a mutual understanding where everyone we meet online is simply a stranger that we haven’t gotten to know yet?
When discussing our unit planner, the metaphor of a playground had popped up in our discussion. We teach our children how to keep themselves safe on the playground, let go of their hands, and let them play. Children can participate in all sorts of imaginative play and develop their collaborative and communication skills, among other things. When they get injured, we are there to comfort and guide them. Then, they pick themselves up again and play again. The online world can be seen as a virtual playground where people come together and play, so to speak. How can we let go of their hands as they explore the virtual playground?
Based on this idea, we wanted to use the Seesaw platform to create a safe environment where the students could “play”. Students would be able to create content and be involved in the participatory culture online. Besides having students share the video they created, we wanted them to give comments to their classmates. To make this an educative experience, we planned to have an explicit discussion with students about giving feedback and comments online. Since they are only in primary 2, we prepared sentence starters that students could refer to as they comment. The sentence starters would help guide them as to what kind of comments they could make. This would ease their cognitive load on how to structure their comment and allow them to focus on the message and intended meaning.
Through the weekly blogs and materials from course 2, I felt that I began to think more deeply and critically about how students navigated and survived in the technological landscape. I find myself thinking more about designing learning experiences that would empower and equip students to thrive, not survive in the technological landscape. I find myself using and referring to the ISTE Standards for Students to identify and determine what kind of learning goals I would want students to achieve. After identifying the relevant standards, I would use the standards to enhance the learning experience further. The final project for course 2 provided me with a great opportunity to actually put what had been brewing in my mind into practice.