ISTE 2013 – Digital citizenship for societal participation

At ISTE 2013 we will present our Swedish project from upper secondary school in Kalmar: Digital citizenship for societal participation.

We hope to find other teachers doing similar projects to connect with for exchanging experiences.

Here we have a summary of our presentation:

Digital citizenship – students learning ICT and science for societal participation.
Daniel Åkerblom, Dan Frendin and Mats Lindahl

This study is built on the use of socioscientific issues (SSI) in science education and draws on the ideal of authenticity in education, advanced by the progressivist tradition during early 2000th century. Authenticity in terms on relevance for the students’ lives promotes students’ activity and learning by stimulating students’ internal motivation. Authenticity can only be achieved if the learning activity can provide answers that have significance for something the student want or need to know, and that relates to occurrences in the students’ lives and in society. ICT provides new possibilities to achieve authenticity in education by enabling learning activities to extend beyond the classroom and the school building, thereby stimulating authentic communication and activities in ways that promote students’ “owner-ship” and “agency”.

This project is an attempt to make a change and reach out from the classroom by making use of IT and the possibilities of communication made available to students in a 1-to-1 setting. The study focus on two parallel learning goals:

1) to develop personal communication skills using computers in high-school;

2) to develop functional scientific literacy with a sense of agency that enables a communication that opens the classroom towards the community.

Swedish high-school students (60 students; 16-17 years of age) following flexible personal strategies, under supervision by their teachers, develop communication skills using ICT while they participate in a number of projects. The projects reported on here are: “Wolves in Sweden and biodiversity”, “Radio diary for national radio broadcast” and “Wikipedia in education”.

Results and discussion
Although the different tasks studied in this work were authentic in different ways, they increased the students learning and motivation. Students developed better arguments when addressing the Minister for the environment then when addressing fellow students or the teacher. It should be noted that one important circumstance concerning the letter to the Minister for the environment is that her stance and intentions are known. Another circumstance that can have impact on the students’ engagement in improving their arguments is that the Minister for environment has a distinguished position in Society. The readers of Wikipedia articles and the listeners to Swedish radio broadcasts are real, which makes the task authentic, but they are not known to the students. That makes the task difficult in another way than writing to a minister since the students need to imagine how to communicate. Still, the tasks were taken seriously and the students showed and expressed that they were highly motivated. Their learning increased in many aspects such as reflection and expressive language skills. Taken together, it seems as authentic school tasks, which includes communication that reaches beyond the school walls promotes not only students’ motivation but also their reflective and communicative skills. It is therefore concluded that ICT provides several opportunities to develop authentic school tasks that increase students’ motivation and learning. Reflecting and communicative skills are specifically promoted.

Daniel Akerblom, teacher Geography and Science

Dan Frendin, teacher Biology,  Science and Globalisation and sustainable development.

Mats Lindahl, ass. Professor


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