Safer Internet Day 2014 at English Martyrs’ Catholic School, Leicester – guest post

EMCS SID Wall

In celebration of Safer Internet Day 2014 (SID14), students at English Martyrs’ Catholic School were asked to think about their digital footprint – the ‘traces left behind by someone’s activity in a digital environment’ (DECD 2011). This fed into a practical activity, creating graphic digital footprints (as shown in the image above) which were used to create a school display. Alan Wileman, the school’s Head of ICT, led sessions for the day, and prepared a summary of the school’s activity:

Preparation

The project started with discussions with several groups across Years 7-9 to gage an idea of what we could do as a school for Safer Internet Day 2014. During these sessions, all students worked in small groups and came up with ideas. An idea from of one of the classes – 8 Sherwin – became our Safer Internet Day 2014 project. This activity focused on students sharing their digital practices – the different kinds of sites and services they use, and the ways in which they use them – and creating a graphic representation of their ‘digital footprints’. The activity was trailed with two classes of year 8 and year 10 learners, who also fed back on the SID14 presentation.

The school also set up a SID14 blog, to support students in capturing their digital footprints and commenting on possible ways to help make the internet a better place. You can see the students’ comments on the blog here:

http://sid2014emcs.wordpress.com/

Finally, in preparation for the day, we created a digital footprints display with a school-made poster and Mark Anderson’s (@ICTEvangelist) “think” poster, produced for open use in schools.

Safer Internet Day 2014

On the day, sessions were delivered by both Mr Shema (ICT Teacher) and myself with classes from years 7-13.  Both of us delivered the presentation prepared by SID UK and then began discussions with each class about digital footprints and how we can ‘make a better internet’.

This initial introduction was followed by students creating graphic digital footprints. We had prepared paper footprint templates in advance and then asked students to think about the services they use and accounts they have online. Logos for each service were printed and then added to the footprint templates like a collage. This activity was important in both facilitating a conversation with students about their online activity, and capturing and sharing this with students from across the school.

In addition to this activity, some classes added their digital footprints, in comment form, to the school’s SID14 Blog, along with their ideas on how we can create a better internet.

All classes responded very well to the presentations and some excellent discussions took place.  The learners most enjoyed talking about their own digital footprints, and the traces and marks online activity leave behind. These initial discussions led very well into the main activities around creating their own personal digital footprints and contributing to the blog.

We used Wordle to create a word cloud of the most popular sites and services used by our students. It was a great opportunity for the school to talk about and see how our young people use gaming, mobile and internet based technologies to connect online. The largest words are those services which appeared most frequently in student’s digital footprint lists.

emcs wordle

Reflections

All activities took place in school during ICT lessons and I feel this worked very well in the general running of the day’s events – it meant that all learners had access to the digital footprint resources and to the SID2014 blog. We achieved a fantastic display and produced an informative resource making use of the blog with information about some of our classes’ behaviour online and their views on what can be done to create a better internet. Running the sessions within ICT also meant that we were able to continue to present the activities with classes throughout the week, adding continually to the display.

Learners were involved throughout the design process of the events and enjoyed the challenge of creating additional resources, such as word searches, for other students to use.  During the day, all students took part in the presentation discussions and created a graphic digital footprint. Some had the opportunity to feed into the “blog”, commenting both on their digital footprints and possible ways to help make the internet a better place.  It was a good activity to help see what the young people of English Martyrs use online.

Reflections from class ‘8 Sherwin’ have been added to the blog to help review the day and the activities.  Some of the comments include:

“Safer internet day 2014 has taught us nearly everyone uses social network accounts like Facebook BBM Snapchat”

“I did enjoy working on this project because I learnt lots of new thing about going online, it’s been very helpful to stay safe.”

“I learnt from the e-safety comments are the person said in order to make the internet better we could have the ability to remove things that you no longer want to be made public forever. And this would ensure that people feel safer in their internet use and would be more willing to continue.”

I am very happy with the response we received from students. If I did the activity again, I would focus the footprints activity a little more by adding dates and then re-doing the activity in a few years to see what changes have occurred.  I would also use the blog more by asking students to write more about the internet: what is good about it, what they feel isn’t good and more on how can we make the internet a better place. The student involvement was brilliant and we all were very positive about the responses from students and with the display.

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