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Maija Katkovska [Elearning Papers] 2012_discovering the Digital World Together, Safely and Critically

Maija Katkovska [Elearning Papers] 2012_discovering the Digital World Together, Safely and Critically

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 e L e a r n  i n   P a p e r s
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eLearning Papers
ISSN: 1887-1542
www.elearningpapers.eun.º 28
April 2012
From the feld 
critical digital literacy,media education, nationalcurriculum, policyrecommendations
Maija Katkovska,
ProjectManagerLatvian Internet Association,Safer Internet Centremaija@drossinternets.lv
Discovering the Digital World Together, Safely andCritically
Within the framework of the Safer Internet Program, Latvia organized a Safer InternetDay to bring parents, teachers and young people together to discover the digital world
safely. According to current ndings, safely means crically, because digital literacyskills are strongly linked to the ability to perform a crical evaluaon of online content,which is automacally related to personal safety online.
Research conducted by EU Kids Online in 2010 showed that only 54% of children and
young people say they are able and do compare informaon from dierent onlinesources before accepng it as true and trusul. To check this assumpon, the Latvian
Safer Internet Centre, together with Latvian social networking site Draugiem.lv, set up
an experiment to test young people’s cauon when providing personal informaon.The ndings point to a need for greater measures that address and enhance youngpeople’s crical digital literacy.The slogan and theme of this year’s Safer Internet Day was focusing on bringing parents,
teachers and young people together to discover the digital world together and safely. Ac-
cording to current researches and nding safely also means crically, because digital literacyskills are strongly linked to crical evaluaon of online content which automacally is linked
to personal safety online.Research conducted by EU kids online in 2010
showed that only 54% of children and young
people say they are able and do compare informaon from dierent online sources beforeaccepng it as true and trusul informaon or source. To check this assumpon in real life,
we Latvian Safer Internet Centre together with Latvian social networking site Draugiem.lv setup an experiment.
The experiment was organised as a fake campaign by Safer Internet Centre, promising to winan iPad2, just by registering and providing personal informaon. The banner was available
for Draugiem.lv users aged 10 – 20 in a form of a typical fake banner (Like: “You have won!
Click here to claim!”). When clicking the banner a registraon form opened inving the per
son to provide with their name, age and contact informaon. The eld contact informaonwas intenonally le just as “contact informaon” to see how much personal informaonchildren and young people would disclose. Aer nishing the registraon form and submit
ng the form, informaon, that this is a fake campaign organised by Safer Internet Centre,was displayed. Tips and link to Safer Internet Centre’s web site were provided inving theperson to be more careful when displaying the informaon online.
1 EU Kids Online Research is accessible here:
 e L e a r n  i n   P a p e r s
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 w w w. e l e a r n i n g p a p e r s. e u
eLearning Papers
ISSN: 1887-1542
www.elearningpapers.eun.º 28
April 2012
From the feld 
During the campaign the banner was clicked by 2281 childrenand young people, out of those 1211 registered and provided
personal informaon, most of them e-mail addresses andphone numbers, but 36, as their contact informaon, providedtheir home address. The banner included informaon that the
campaign is organised by Safer Internet Centre, and if the site
of Safer Internet Centre was entered the informaon could be
found that a fake campaign is being organised and one shouldnot register.
As predicted, the results of this experiment proved that crical
digital literacy skills are not the best developed skills amongstchildren and young people.
This is also proved by results of a study conducted by the Lat
vian Language Agency of the Ministry of Educaon and Sciencein Latvia on Media Competence of Schoolchildren and Teachers
in 2011
, focusing on forms, frequency, aims and ways of mediaused by both – teachers and schoolchildren – in the process of 
educaon.Main conclusions showed that dierent types of media (inter
net, TV, radio, printed press) are used daily and the most im
-portant media used, to no one’s surprise, is internet – 91% of 
teachers and 86% of children use it daily. The dierence starts
with aims – while teachers claim that in cases when more than
3 hours are spent online it is for work/ professional purposes
and for personal usage internet is not being used more than anhour a day; children for study purposes mostly spend no morethan 1 hour a day, and if longer period is spent online – it is for
personal interests. This shows that for teachers internet is a me
dium for searching informaon and work while for children it isa medium for interacon and communicaon.This leads to the second big dierence in signicance of mediain the process of educaon – percepon of how important it is
to use media to perform well at school. Only 15% of teacherssay that use of media is not needed to perform well while 58%
of children think that usage of media will not aect their perfor
mance at school. This shows the situaon in schools in Latvia – if it is not wrien in the study book, it will not be asked in the testor exam, so I do not need to know it! These results also showthe gap between the teacher’s atude about the media usage
2 Study of Latvian Language Agency is accessuble here (in Latvian): 
in the process of educaon and the actual usage. As main rea
-sons lack of technical equipment in classrooms and at children’sliving places are named, however we would like suggest thatsuch factors as lack of methodological guidance on how to use
media crically and safely are more signicant.
Fortunately only 10% of teachers think that media usage is notappropriate or possible in the subject they teach and hopefully
future researches will only show decrease in this number. Teach
ers acknowledge that crical digital literacy skills are needed and
that school is the place to provide children with this knowledge,
meanme results show that 51% of teachers acknowledge thatit is dicult or very dicult to show and teach children how toevaluate media content crically and check if the informaon istrue or false and the source is trusul.
From our visits to schools, when organising seminars, we seethat knowledge about basic internet safety issues from the per-
sonnel in schools is oen missing – the content lters in schools
are used rarely, teachers, when giving assignments on infor-
maon search, are not using safe search opons and internetbrowsing history is not being deleted aer every user. If teach
-ers had their own experience and knowledge of what kind of 
informaon children just might come across and what threats toencounter online, lack of above menoned basic safety issues
would not be there.
We see that the problem is there and to try to nd a possiblesoluon and come up with actual suggesons on how to inte
grate crical digital literacy skills in the system of educaon inLatvia as a part of Safer Internet Day Celebraon in Latvia we
organised a Conference “Discovering the digital world togeth-er... safely!” It brought together youngsters, parents, teachers
and experts from industry and universies to discuss the lackof usage of modern technologies in the educaonal process inLatvian schools and discuss the absence of crical digital literacy
and media competence skills amongst children and teachers.
The main conclusion of the discussions of the conference wasthat in the current system of Educaon in Latvia needs to bechanged. Media educaon and development of crical digitalliteracy skills should become a part of the educaonal process
as we are living in the society driven by technologies and infor-
Some of the conclusions coming from the Conference expertsinclude:

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