The Final Project of COETAIL Course #1: My Tech-Rich Unit about Internet Safety

I chose a Digital Citizenship unit as my final project for COETAIL Course #1. I begin every school year by teaching this unit. I find it really important. Students, as well as adults, keep forgetting about some important rules regarding sharing personal data via social media, appropriate behavior online or digital etiquette. However, children in real life often are told not to open the door to strangers, when they are left at home alone. What about the digital world? Do they really know well enough how to keep the private family or personal information secure, when to share it and with whom? Kids usually have access to way more information than their parents realize. But do they always know when is it OK to open that information door?

Here is my tech-rich Internet Safety unit plan that will allow students to gain knowledge and skills to survive in the ocean of the digital world. Below you will find more details about teaching methods and digital tools that enrich this unit.

Gamification

The fact, that I am teaching this unit every year doesn’t make it easier to create. I’m adapting the teaching plan every year since it is getting harder to motivate students by just giving new tools and relevant information. However, in my opinion, the rules of internet safety must be reminded about and repeated every year. While designing this unit plan, I was thinking about my Grade 5 students, since they are more likely to already be using social media in their personal environment. This time I’ve decided to utilize a new tool to make sure I catch their attention and make the information memorable – Gamification. Everything is so much easier to learn through the game. Everyone likes to play. This is one of the best motivations for a learner of any age.

In order not to invent the wheel again, I’ve chosen a BreakOut Edu platform (luckily, this school year our school has purchased several kits and unlimited access to this educational resource). BreakOut Edu is a challenge of an escape room in your classroom. Students get topic-related information through the riddles. By solving the riddles, students get answers in a form of lock combinations that allow unlocking the boxes and getting the key.

Photo by ABEL MARQUEZ on Unsplash

In order to make a research process more exciting and effective for my students, I’ve chosen a game called THINK BEFORE YOU POST, which offers students a possibility to decide whether provided information can be posted online or not, as well as learn more about potentially harmful online activities. As a result, it turns out to be kind of a guided research process through the game.

In order to attract the attention of the students, the main task of the game is related to a real-world situation:
Your parents have changed the wifi password and disabled wifi on all of your cellular devices!  The only way to get online access is to prove to them that you know how to be safe on the Internet!
This kind of challenge is motivating already. At the end of this activity students will learn about:
– Negative consequences of online activities;
– How to sort out Helpful, Unkind and Illegal Posts;
– Create an appropriate Fake Facebook post;
– Learn about location settings and when it is safe to share your location on your device.
Through this BreakOut Edu activity students will go through the following stages of learning from Bloom’s taxonomy – remembering, understanding and applying.

Podcast

Another essential part of my Internet safety unit is the creation of a podcast. Students will analyze and evaluate data, they’ve gained from the Internet safety game. They will have to work in groups and fill out the Podcast outline template in order to structurize the information on internet safety topics. During this process, they will also be encouraged to do additional research online. Students, working in groups, will create and record a podcast about one of the topics:
– Negative consequences of online activities;
– How to sort out Helpful, Unkind and Illegal Posts;
– How to create an appropriate Fake Facebook post;
– Location settings on your device and when it is safe to share your location?
Students will use Anchor – an online podcast generator.
The podcats will be shared through Google Form with classmates, who will be able to share their reflections on their peers’ podcasts and provide feedback.
After sharing it with classmates and receiving feedback, student-created Podcats can be tuned a little bit more and prepared for sharing with the school community on a bulletin board (by providing QR codes of each podcast). Everyone will be able to listen to it and remind themselves about the basics of internet safety.

How does this relate to the learning in Course 1? 

Knowledge gained through COETAIL course #1 helped me a lot while designing this unit plan. The fact that I had to push myself out of the comfort zone and place myself into the learners’ chair made me see the whole educational process that I was used to from an absolutely different angle. I realized, on one hand, how many exciting easily-accessible online learning tools are available on the unlimited pages of the internet. On the other hand, this experience reminded me of something that many of us, teachers, forget due to day-to-day routine – in order to be effective and stay in students’ heads, every lesson must be interesting, engaging and inspiring. Connecting tasks to real-life situations, inspiring collaboration, making it so exciting and unusual that students would geek out about it after the classes and applying the best modern learning theories – I’ve tried to have all of these ideas in mind while creating this lesson plan so that my students would benefit from it as much as I benefited from COETAIL course #1.

Learning Theories in The Education of 21st Century

From Behaviorism to Connectivism

The origin of theories of learning was in ancient Greece. Over the ages, theories of learning have been developing and transforming. Many famous educators developed various theories – from Behaviorism to Connectivism – in order to explain the human learning process. I personally am using ideas of Connectivism in my teaching process very often. The majority of my lessons are based on the co-teaching model. While preparing I am using my research skills pretty often to find relevant material, such as online content for classes or new digital tools. Online content is constantly changing in the 21st century as well as our learning process, which results in change of our lifestyle in general. According to Siemens “Learners as little as forty years ago would complete the required schooling and enter a career that would often last a lifetime. Information development was slow. The life of knowledge was measured in decades. Today, these foundational principles have been altered. Knowledge is growing exponentially. In many fields the life of knowledge is now measured in months and years.

Connectivism according to George Siemens is A Learning Theory for the Digital Age.

Using learning theories to support students’ learning

With this COVID-19 situation in Europe, which made many countries close schools and switch to distance learning, I had a great opportunity to rethink my teaching practice. This made me realize the importance of learning theories. Now I am reaching my students through Google Classroom and Seesaw. I am uploading assignments, video tutorials which I’ve created using Loom (online video recorder). Together with my students, we are having conversations and discussions relevant to the topic of study through comments in Google Classroom. I’m including online research and moving towards including online collaboration activities between students to my lessons.
My further plan is to bring part of my teaching content to online conversations with my students thorough Google Meet. In my opinion, especially now, in current COVID-19 situation, practical application of learning theories like Connectivism and Constructivism is inevitable. I’ve noticed, that understanding of Connectivism and Constructivism as learning theories helped me rethink my online lesson plans and focus more on:
– Students’ learning from each other
– More collaboration within student groups and between groups
– Relate tasks to real-life situations
For example, students can work on creation of a Google Site about the best learning online practices together and communicate through Google Meet sessions online.
Working together towards one goal, especially if it is related to a real-world situation, is motivating. Real-time feedback encourages and motivates you to reach your goal sooner. For example:
– Designing an actual room with real measurements, furniture, windows, etc. using online designing tool Planner 5D.
– Creating a tour of countries you’ve visited using Tour Builder.
– Creating an art gallery using Thinglink.
According to constructivist principles, real-life learning is messy and complex. Classrooms that emulate the “fuzziness” of this learning will be more effective in preparing learners for life-long learning. Frances Bel: Connectivism: Its Place in Theory-Informed Research and Innovation in Technology-Enabled Learning.

Constructivism
Learning as “a persisting change in human performance or performance potential…[which] must come about as a result of the learner’s experience and interaction with the world” Driscoll

We just completed our week #2 of distance learning at our school and I’ve noticed, that all the planning and preparation for lessons have significantly changed in comparison to previous process of preparation.
I’m communicating (online now, of course) with my colleagues even more than previously. As one of the IT support staff members, I am responsible for providing all necessary content to my colleagues. Therefore, I’ve noticed, that in many cases we are learning from each other. Teachers are looking for better ways of students’ motivation in learning new things online. Frustration is unavoidable here, because of loads of new information and unknown digital tools as well as new solutions. Teachers are impressed of the amount of new information they are getting and have to learn every day and it is moving to a successful “Geeking Out” between teachers.

Participation in the digital age means more than being able to access “serious” online information and culture; it also means the ability to participate in social and recreational activities online. John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Image by ar130405 from Pixabay

Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy

Bloom’s taxonomy as one of the learning theories is different from other learning theories by its clear structure. It is categorized by learning 6 stages:
Creating – To produce new or original work.   Tools – Animating, blogging, filming, podcasting, publishing, simulating, wiki building, video blogging, programming, directing
Evaluating – To justify a stand or decision; to make judgments based on criteria and standards through checking and critiquing.  Tools – Grading, networking, rating, testing, reflecting, reviewing, blog commenting, posting, moderating
Analyzing – To draw connections among ideas, concepts, or determining how each part interrelate to an overall structure or purpose.  Tools – Mashing, mind mapping, surveying, linking, validating
Applying – To use information in new situations such as models, diagrams, or presentations.  Tools – Calculating, Charting, editing, hacking, presenting, uploading, operating, sharing with a group
Understanding – To explain ideas, concepts, or construct meaning from written material or graphics.  Tools – Advanced searching, annotating, blog journaling, tweeting, tagging, commenting, subscribing
Remembering – To recall facts, basic concepts, or retrieval of material.  Tools – Bookmarking, copying, googling, bullet-pointing, highlighting, group networking, searching
Obiageli Sneed: Integrating Technology with Bloom’s Taxonomy

I find really effective using Bloom’s taxonomy in an online learning environment – check out this infographic created by Ron Carranza.
I believe that any successful educational process is inherent from Bloom’s taxonomy and I wish I could apply it to all of my teaching units.