The Conclusion Of My Course Prototype

#ECI834, A Digital Literacy Course

Over the semester, we had the task of planning and initiating lessons within a course prototype. I have to admit… I was unaware of how much work I would put into it, but yet how much I would learn through the process. My plan was to create lessons that helped kids develop digital literacy skills. In my experience teaching grade 2-4, I have always felt that there is a lack of resources in that age range surrounding the topics of digital literacy and digital citizenship. My mission for this assignment was to help bridge that gap.

Course Profile Overview

I decided to create a course that focused on teaching students about digital literacy through engaging and relatable lessons and activities. The first part of the project was to plan our course prototype. I initially thought I would use a Learning Management System to host the content, but the more that I thought about it, I realized that I wanted teachers to have open access to the materials. I quickly changed the plan and decided to develop a website so that teachers could easily gain access to the lessons and activities for their students. You can find the course profile and framework with more of the details here.

Lesson 1: My Digital Literacy Adventure

My first lesson related digital literacy to an adventure, which can be found here. I thought that since I have created many lessons before, this would be no different. However, a lot more thought and detail goes into planning an online or blended lesson due to all the added elements needed for an online platform. I wanted to create a lesson that was not only engaging, but also accessible and equitable. After creating my first lesson, we had the opportunity to meet in small groups during class and give feedback to each other about our courses. I found this experience extremely beneficial! The advice I received was just what I needed to take my course to the next level. I revised the student self assessment, I added audio to the activity to increase accessibility, and I even implemented a Creative Commons Copyright on my website. The planning, creating, implementation, and reflection process for lesson 1 can be found here.

Lesson 2: Look Closely and Think Critically

During the planning and creation of lesson 2, I focused on implementing details in the lesson that I felt were lacking in lesson 1. I felt more confident with the process and had a better idea of how I wanted it to look. For the second lesson, I drew my inspiration from how Common Sense Education displays their digital citizenship curriculum. I included more features like the keywords, the learning outcome, and a full Google Slideshow of the lesson, which I figured out how to embed right into the website. I also challenged myself by creating altered images and fake headlines for the fake news portion of the lesson and had so much fun doing it!

Some other areas I added and took into consideration were:

  • an engaging instructional video that was under 5 minutes
  • a focus on collaboration with the 2 Truths and a Lie Padlet activity at the start of the lesson
  • Teacher Notes in the Google Slideshow
  • a one page “quick guide” that teachers can print out and refer to throughout the lesson
  • a printable or downloadable poster to help students remember the steps they can take to fact-check
  • an exit slip to wrap up the lesson
  • assessment and answer keys for each activity
  • open ended assessment so that teachers can adapt it based on age and grade level
  • extension activities to deepen understanding

The Conclusion and Continuation of the Digital Literacy Course

This process taught me a lot about lesson creation and creativity. I was more willing to take risks and challenge myself at the end of this project than I was at the beginning. I learned so many valuable lessons and skills through this experience and I know they will serve me well moving forward. The Digital Literacy for Kids website has so much potential for teachers, students, and families. I hope to continue on with this project so that we can help younger students develop digital literacy skills in a tangible, accessible, and engaging way.

You can take a look at my course website here or you can watch the recording below to learn more about it!

The Essentials of Online Learning

#ECI834, A Digital Literacy Course

“Can you hear me okay? Is my mic on?”
“I’m just gonna share my screen real quick.”
“Please mute your mic…. nope you’re still not muted.”
“Thanks for introducing me to all of your pets… again.”

Online Course GIF By OpenLearning

If you are a teacher, you have probably said or heard these words more than once since the pandemic started. Everyone has had to shift their teaching styles and dive into the online world in some way since COVID-19 began. Some teachers have moved completely to an online learning environment and others have added digital elements to their physical classroom. These changes are easy for some, but much more challenging for others.

My teaching experience has varied over the years, but I have always implemented Educational Technology in some way. I have always used the blended learning model to some extent in my classroom, which is the blend of both online learning and face to face instruction. I have improved and altered the way I use blended learning as I have become more comfortable with it. The part that makes blended learning stand out is that “it requires the physical presence of both teacher and student, with some elements of student control over time, place, path, or pace.”

When I first started teaching, I was ambitious and used online learning in any way that I could. If there was a new website or app, I was always willing to try it in my classroom. This mindset is what guided a lot of my instruction and teaching methods. Even if my school had a limited amount of devices, I would intentionally implement the blended learning model within small group rotations or inquiry. However, the part of blended learning that was lacking in my classroom was the “student control over time, place, path, or pace.” This reminds me more of the Modern Classrooms Project framework of learning, which starts with blended instruction, moves into self-paced structure, and then allows students to progress when they demonstrate mastery. Trevor reminds us “it’s largely about choice and giving many options for students to express their learning” with a blended learning model.

Kareem Farah says that “when we micromanage the learning environment, we do a disservice to our students. We strip them of the opportunity to become self-regulated and self aware young adults. It may be intimidating to release control, but it is profoundly important.”

The freedom for students to choose their place, path, and pace in learning also reminds me of my current experience with online teaching. With the current online school that I work at, students are able to work at an asynchronous pace, but still get the benefits of meeting their teachers and classmates in a synchronous environment. Just like a blended learning format, students need the opportunity to build community with their peers, but also have time for their own learning and discovery. The blend of asynchronous and synchronous learning is essential for a successful online learning environment.

After working in an online learning environment for the past 5 months, as well as integrating blended learning into my classroom for the past 6 years, I have come to recognize the benefits and challenges of both these models. Since I am currently working with an online learning model, I decided to make a list of what I believe is essential for a thriving online learning environment and the areas we need to consider.

Photo by August de Richelieu on

Online Learning Essentials

1. Student Centered Lessons: Just like any form of teaching, it needs to be student centered. Keep the students at the center of the conversations that surround their learning and make sure each activity and assignment is possible for them in their current online learning situation.

2. Asynchronous Learning: Use asynchronous learning for video instruction, assignments and projects. This allows students to work at their own pace and learn in an atmosphere that benefits them. It’s also important that the assigned lessons and activities are achievable. If they cannot be done independently, then there needs to be planned synchronous time to answer questions and support students.

3. Synchronous Learning: Synchronous opportunities are needed for building community and having conversations from various perspectives. Students still need these opportunities to recognize their own biases, learn from their peers, and feel heard. Students should leave these meetings feeling celebrated, known, and confident. 

4. Instructional Videos: Instructional videos are a great way to keep learners engaged. Keep them short and concise, use Closed Captioning, and save it to a platform or in a video format that each child can access.

5. Asynchronous Assessment: While informal/formative assessment can be done in a synchronous format, summative assessment should be administered in an asynchronous way. Students who are unable to attend meetings or don’t have the necessary technology should still be fairly included in the assessments. 

6. Professional Development: Training and Professional Development is crucial for educators who embark on the journey of online teaching. Teachers need to know how to use the technology and online platforms. It’s also important that teachers understand the importance of the 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship, which includes digital security and privacy.

7. Communication: Building relationships with families and caregivers is incredibly valuable with online learning. It makes all the difference when you make space and time for families to ask questions and share their input. Having synchronous information meetings or inviting families to send emails allows them to be a part of the learning process. Remember to use your e-portfolios or online learning platforms to share positive experiences and personal encouragement with families.

8: Accessibility and Equity: Online learning needs to be accessible and equitable. There are many obstacles that stand in the way of online learning, such as the Digital Divide. Students might not have access to the internet, they may not have a device, their software could be outdated, or there could be multiple siblings who need to share one device during a synchronous activity. These are challenges that many families face during online learning, so it’s important that your school has strategies in place to support and provide access for the students and families. 

Photo by August de Richelieu on

As you can see, there are many elements to consider if you are moving to an online or blended learning format. I am sure that as the year goes on, I will have many more points to add to this list. So I am wondering… if you have taught in an online or blended learning environment, what are some things you would add to this list? What are some of the challenges you have faced or experiences you have celebrated?

It’s important to remember that whether you are using a blended learning or online learning format, it needs to be intentional, authentic, and student centered. The best part about any kind of teaching is that we learn, adapt, grow, and improve- just as our students do. If you are starting to embark on this online or blended learning journey, remember to have fun, be flexible, and connect with others who are experiencing it as well.