Course Profile

Grade 7-8 Faith Based
Digital Citizenship
Blended Learning
Course

Jennifer Stewart-Mitchell
March 28, 2017
EC&I 834
Dr. Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt
University of Regina
Course Design Rationale and Vision: Why Faith-Based Digital
Citizenship?

Our students today live in a globalized world where mobile devices have
changed the way we communicate, collaborate, socialize and learn. In this
world information is shared in 140 characters or less and students are more
engaged by icons, emoji’s and videos of cat antics than what exists beyond the
screen. In a report from the PEW Institute, 92% of teens report going on-line
daily, which includes 24% who say they go online continually (Lenhart, 2015, p.
2). Digital culture is no longer a novelty, it has become entwined within the
fabric of society and humanity and is the number one way that people connect
today. Even Pope Francis referred to the “Internet and social networks as ‘a gift
of God’ when used wisely” (para.1 Pullella, 2016), and can be found sharing the
good news with the global masses on both Instagram and Twitter.

Regardless of all the opportunities afforded for collaboration and
communication, we still see instances of bullying and marginalization. To
address the growing number of issues, in September 2015, the Saskatchewan
Ministry of Education released a Policy Guide and Continuum for Digital
Citizenship Education as a result of the Saskatchewan Action Plan to Address
Bullying and Cyberbullying (Couros & Hildebrandt, 2015, preface). These
resources were to provide a framework for integrating digital citizenship into
multiple subjects and contexts in an authentic way. The overall scope of the
program is to equip our students with the skills and knowledge needed to be
responsible and safe online.

While the scope of this Digital Citizenship Continuum equips our students
with the skills and knowledge needed to be responsible and safe online, is it
enough? For Catholic educators, there is also a need to examine how a Catholic
lens may play a role in approaching the online world. How can we incorporate
the Catholic Social Teachings in our approach to interactions in the online
world? Teachings which include: Solidarity, Dignity of the Human Person, Justice
and the Sanctity of Life (Regina Catholic School Division, n.d.). Where do they
fit in these digital spaces?

The vision of the Regina Catholic School Division (RCSD) is to “provide a
quality Catholic education that is faith based, student-centered, and results-
oriented” (Regina Catholic School Division, n.d.). To further actualize this vision,
the RCSD has four commitments to the students and families. These
commitments include: Literacy and Numeracy, Equitable Transitions and
Opportunities, Essential Skills and Practices in 21st Century Education, and
Nurturing Catholic Communities of Faith (n.d.). Therefore, this course was
created with that vision and those commitments in mind. That being to support
grade seven and eight teachers in teaching digital citizenship from a faith
perspective using online learning as an opportunity for students to exercise
digital literacy within a supportive community of learners. In order to actualize
this vision, it was therefore important to create a course which would be
accessible for all seventh and eighth grade teachers - from the emergent to the
experienced digital user.

Target student population

The target student audience for this course are the grade seven and
eight students in the Regina Catholic School Division. There are just under 1500
students at these grade levels, with approximately 50 teachers teaching at
these grade levels.

Demographics

The RCSD serves over 11, 000 students and over 1100 staff. Currently
there are 30 schools in the division, with three more school slated to open in
the fall of 2017. When you look at the demographics for a whole school division
in Regina, it varies extensively, as it includes community and suburban schools.
The demographics are further diverse in terms of access to technology and
digital devices. Within the division, most schools run a ratio of one device
shared between three students. With devices ranging from Asus "cloudbooks"
housing most student applications, documents and other data stored remotely
in the Office 365 cloud; to Android mobile tablet devices. In addition to this, the
Regina Catholic School Division supports the adoption of a Bring Your Own
Technology Program (BYOT). The BYOT program recognizes the convenience
and the abundance of technology already in the hands of students. This roll out
of technology was part of a technology renewal in the fall of 2014. Although
many middle years’ teachers have eagerly embraced the opportunities for
leveraging learning through online platforms, most teachers have little to no
experience with online learning, and in most cases this also applies to their
students.

The students in grade 7 and 8 who will be taking part in this course
mostly have access to laptop devices. Since these are shared devices, laptops
must be booked out by classroom teachers on a centralized booking program.
Most middle years’ teachers are able to freely use the devices for at least 30%
percent of their day. Although the BYOT program would alleviate pressure on
booking these devices, not all schools would be able utilize this as an option. It
is for this reason that the blended model would also serve as a more flexible
option when devices are not freely available.

Course Adoption by Stakeholders

Due to the wide range of technological savviness evident within our
division, it will be recommended that teachers take part in a professional
development session to learn how to navigate the course and support their
students. These afterschool sessions will be offered both face to face, as well as
through Skype for Business, and a recorded webinar. In addition to the teacher
stakeholders, parents and school-based administrators will be given the
opportunity to learn about the course and how they can support student
learning in this environment. Included in the Teacher Module, there is a parent
letter and information explaining the rationale for the course, blended learning
philosophy, and how parents may support their child. Furthermore,
administrators and parents will have an opportunity to take a tour of the course
through guest access. Teachers will also be encouraged to share updates
regarding student progress regularly, as part of their reporting to parents.

Course Format

The faith based Digital Citizenship course is designed primarily for a
blended learning. The reason for choosing blended over online, is to provide the
support that the students will need for engaging in an online space. This model
is needed for two reasons: assistance with navigating the space; as well as,
ensuring that students are connecting with the content both online and face to
face. Which could be seen as essential in supporting the sensitive nature of
some topics in the course. Additionally, there are booking demands in most
schools for using the devices. In some locations, it can be quite challenging for
a grade seven or eight teacher to secure the devices needed for the course for
extensive periods of time. Therefore, it is important to recognize a flexible
solution in ensuring the success of the program, this being what blended
format offers.

With the course following a blended model, it thus lends itself to a
synchronous design. This means throughout the modules, students will be
required at varying points to engage in face to face discussions, online
discussions which require some time restrictions, and collaborative projects.
Learning Management System

The course will be housed within the Regina Catholic School Division
Learning Online platform, which utilizes Moodle as its Learning Management
System (LMS). Moodle was chosen for this course for a couple reasons. One
being, the RCSD Learning Online Department hopes to grow their program and
offer more opportunities for students. It is hoped that through this course,
students of grade seven and eight will become comfortable navigating this
platform and way of learning, therefore become motivated to see online
courses as a viable option for high school. The second reason Moodle was the
chosen, was due to the support structure already in place from the Learning
Online and Technology Services. In order to effectively roll-out this course to all
grade seven and eight teachers, and 1500 students, there needs to be supports
in place to actualize the project. Moodle would allow for quick enrollment of
mass numbers of students through the Directory Access Protocol that is already
in place with the students’ Office 365 user credentials. Thereby reducing time
for student set up, and instead leaving time for teachers to focus on
personalizing the course to their learning context.

Instructional Tools

Each module will incorporate a variety of instructional tools to meet the
needs of a variety of learning styles. Many of the modules incorporate the use
of videos created specifically for this course, vocabulary enrichment activities
through interactive games such as hangman, interactive digital texts (e-books),
with a recording of the text embedded within with readings and videos, and
infographics tailored to the course content.

Within each module in the course, students will have the opportunity to
explore instructional platforms and digital tools which will leverage connecting,
collaborating, creating, critical thinking and communicating. Therefore, in
addition to Moodle, teachers will be able to personalize the course with the
integration of other online digital tools such as Flipgrid Class, Mentimeter,
Office 365 software applications, Piktochart and Adobe Spark. These tools will
be used for connecting, collaborating and creating artifacts to represent
understanding and learning. Since the tools are specific to each class, teachers
will be required to set up their own accounts to these platforms, and change
the links to the course for each interactive tool. In addition to this, teachers
will also need to require parent permission for the use of Adobe Spark and
Piktochart for students who are under 13 years. All letters of permission, as well
as a letter regarding this course are included with the Teacher Resources in the
course. All other software applications do not require specific permission, and
are covered under the RCSD Internet Acceptable Use Policy for the school.

Communication Platforms and Tools

Student communication will take part through the integrated tools that
are part of Moodle. Including: the discussion forum, journaling platform, and
questionnaire. In addition to this, other integrative tools will be utilized. These
tools include: Flipgrid for video-logging reflections and peer interactivity, as
well as, Mentimeter for polls and response forums. In order to facilitate online
means of collaborating, students will use Office 365 cloud applications to
collaborate on Word documents and create Sway interactive presentations and
e-books. In terms of alerts regarding assignment due dates, teachers will
either add these links to their classroom blog or webpage, or use other digital
or non-digital ways of sharing this information with students.

Assessment Strategies and Tools

Teachers will also be responsible for the majority of the assessments of
the students. These assessments will be both formative and summative, and
include opportunities for self and peer assessment, as well as those marked by
the LMS. In order to best meet the needs of students in this course, several
assessment strategies and tools will be integrated. Each module will include
options such as the short self-marking quiz feature for formative assessment.
Quizzes in this platform would be primarily used for formative assessment
purposes, and will provide easily accessible information of student
understanding.

In addition to formative assessment via quizzes, each course module, will
also include either a reflection journal entry via Moodle, or a Flipgrid video log
response. Reflective journal responses will incorporate prompts that challenge
students to make connections between the topics and their own lives. These
responses will be shared with other classmates within the learning community
through asynchronous discussions, thereby allowing for the opportunity to build
connections and examine the viewpoints of others. All assessment rubrics will
be provided to students and linked within the module, for peer and teacher
assessment purposes. Additionally, rubrics can be accessed within the
Assessment Tools area in the final modules of the course.

In terms of providing feedback teacher and student assessment, teachers
are able to give private feedback within the module platform. Assessment
feedback will be delivered to students through the Assignment feature of
Moodle, which allows for student submissions, and space for teacher feedback
in a private setting. There is flexibility within the course, for teachers to
integrate peer assessment tools such as Peergrade. However due to the highly
technically integrative nature of this course, that option will not be
implemented within the course design.

Summative assessment is evident within the course, with creative
artifacts in each module, as well as, in the culminating project. The final
summative assessment will involve application of the student understanding
through a Digital Service Project. Just as students are encouraged to take part
in Christian Service, as part of growing in their faith through service to others,
they will take this model to the digital world, tying directly back to the division
theme, “Go Make a Difference”. Although the design and development will be
left completely up to the student, the last module provides a few sources of
inspiration through videos, as well as several suggestions. Some projects may
include: intergenerational digital mentoring, where students may connect and
mentor seniors in the community; big buddy digital citizenship or lessons for
younger students; or even School Public Service Announcement (PSA) videos,
highlighting etiquette then and now.

At the conclusion of the project, students will have the opportunity to
self-assess their project through reflective journaling and completion of a
rubric. Although a general Digital Service Project rubric is included with the
Assessment Tools, classroom teachers and students will be encouraged to
collaborate on the design of the assessment criteria for the project, thereby
encouraging further student ownership.

Course Content

This course is designed in modules based on Ribble’s Nine Elements
(Ribble, 2015) and the Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools
implemented by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education (Couros &
Hildebrandt, 2015). The Digital Citizenship Continuum shared by the Ministry of
Education breaks each of the elements into understandings and skills, framed
as “understand” and “do” (2015, p. 48). For the purpose of this course, the
outcomes explored on the continuum for grade 6 to 9 will be the focus.

The first introductory module provides an overview and expectations for
the course. This is delivered through a variety of mediums which include: an
interactive e-book with course rationale, course navigation information,
expectations and assessment, and a video which examines excerpts from Pope
Francis’ 48th World Communications Day speech (Francis, 2014) and vision for
the course. All other modules follow Ribble’s Nine Elements, integrating the
Essential Skills and Knowledge from the Ministry of Education’s Digital
Citizenship Continuum for the grade 6 to 9 level. These elements include:
Etiquette, Access, Law, Communication, Literacy, Commerce, Rights and
Responsibilities, Safety and Security, and Health and Wellness.

There are ten course content modules for the nine elements. All content
modules will incorporate a video which explores the specific module topic from
a faith perspective. Videos were purposefully created with imagery that
reflected the central ideas at hand, and not focused on a person talking. The
purpose of this is to allow teachers using this course to feel ownership over the
content material. In addition to videos for each module, content is also
delivered via interactive e-books. These e-books incorporate audio recordings
of the content, making the information more accessible to multiple learners, as
well as other online videos with guiding questions. After exploring the content,
students are encouraged to reflect and respond using one of the previously
mentioned tools for communicating. Each module also incorporates the use of
videos or readings, with the opportunities for students to share reflections, then
respond to the reflections of others within the learning community.

Learning Objectives

The vision is for this course to be incorporated into Practical and Applied
Arts (PAA), and that it will take approximately 20 hours to complete. However,
in order to encourage further adoption by teachers, it will also include cross
curricular outcomes for Religion, English Language Arts, Social Studies and
Health. Although classroom teachers will decide the best time to implement
the course. Teachers will be encouraged to spread the course over the course
of the year, rather than all at once. Thereby allowing students to view digital
citizenship as understandings and skills that are to be continuously integrated
into their learning.

Each module follows the essential questions, knowledge and skills for the
Saskatchewan Digital Citizenship Continuum. To further encourage teachers to
adopt and implement this course, cross-curricular learning outcomes were
mapped for each content module (See Appendix A). Thereby allowing teachers
to connect to other content areas.

Further Considerations for Common Concerns

One of the goals of this course is to accommodate a variety of learning
needs and learning styles. It is for this reason that a blended model was also
chosen as part of the design. By providing opportunities for interaction face to
face, students who need additional support, including English as an Additional
Language learners, will be able to voice their concerns in manner that they
may accustomed to learning. The hope is that through engagement a blended
course, students with additional learning needs will begin to feel more
comfortable navigating and engaging online. Furthermore, due to the ease of
access of Moodle and the opportunities for students to interact with multimedia
and forms of information, students will have many opportunities to engage with
the content in different ways. This is why almost every module will have an
interactive audio recorded e-book, as well as videos to accommodate multiple
learning styles. Additionally, students with special learning requirements also
will have access to division text-to-speech and speech-to-text tools.

In order to provide equitable learning opportunities for all students in
respect to digital learning, considerations have been made for students who
may face socio-economic needs. If students need to access devices outside of
the classroom, many schools provide access to school computers in the library,
available during lunch breaks, before and after-school. In most schools,
students are given opportunities to use these shared devices at these times to
work on assignments. Although school devices are not available outside of
school hours, the content is available via Moodle. However, in most community
schools where students have little access to digital devices at home, teachers
are quite cognizant of adjusting the homework expectations. This course is
easily adaptable in order to accommodate for students with absenteeism. Even
if a student is absent, they will still be able to access most of the course
content and engage in the online responses and collaboration activities -
providing they have access to devices or Wi-Fi.

Conclusion

To not engage with the opportunities afforded by the internet is to miss
out on a wealth of opportunities for learning and understanding for our
students. As Pope Francis stated in his message at the Roman Catholic Church's
World Day of Communications, “The internet can be used wisely to build a
society which is healthy and open to sharing” (Francis, 2016, para. 10) but,
“This is a gift of God which involves a great responsibility” (para. 11). This is
where a program of digital education comes in to provide a framework for
teaching. Indeed, it is exciting to consider the possibilities that may emerge
when we look at digital citizenship from a faith perspective. By changing the
intentionality behind why we connect online, we may change a generation’s
experience online. Experiences which could include the opportunities to share
perspectives, reach out to others who are marginalized, and develop a deeper
awareness of global issues. Through faith-based perspective to digital
citizenship, we can show our students how they can make the internet a space
for developing global understanding, or even promoting social good.
References

Couros, A. & Hildebrandt, K. (2015). Digital Citizenship Education in
Saskatchewan Schools. Retrieved from
http://publications.gov.sk.ca/documents/11/83322-DC%20Guide%20-
%20ENGLISH%202.pdf

Francis. (January 24, 2016). Communication and mercy: A fruitful encounter.

Message of His holiness Pope Francis for the 50th world communications

day. Retrieved from

https://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/communications/do

cuments/papa-francesco_20160124_messaggio-comunicazioni-

sociali.html Accessed on March 26, 2016.

Francis. (June 1, 2014). Communication at the service of an authentic culture of
encounter. Message of His holiness Pope Francis for the 48th world
communications day. Retrieved from
https://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/communications/do
cuments/papa-francesco_20140124_messaggio-comunicazioni-
sociali.html Accessed on March 17, 2017.

Lenhart, A. (2015). Teens, social media and technology overview 2015:
Smartphones facilitate shifts in communication landscape for teens. [Pew
Research Center’s Report]. Washington, DC. Retrieved from
http://www.pewinternet.org/files/2015/04/PI_TeensandTech_Update2015_0
409151.pdfAccessed on March 17, 2017.

Pullella, P. (2016, January 22). Texts, internet, social networks are a ‘gift of God’
if used wisely: Pope Francis. Reuters. Retrieved from
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-pope-technology-idUSKCN0V0193
Accessed on March 10, 2017.
Regina Catholic School Division. (n.d.). About Us: The Regina Catholic School
Division. Retrieved from http://www.rcsd.ca/?q=node/4

Ribble, M. (2015). Digital Citizenship: Nine elements students should know.
Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education.

Appendix A
See Additional Document for Outcomes Map.