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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/documents/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/documents/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_0409151.pdfAc
cessed 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.