ELIANT Conference November 28th, 2017
TOWARDS A HEALTHY DIGITAL ECOSYSTEM
Workshop 5, Summary
A group of 8 students from 4 different Waldorf schools in the Netherlands and Belgium participated in the workshop on digital media in education. This was a closed workshop, reserved for students aged between 16 and 18 years old. They then presented their conclusions during the final panel discussion of the conference. Participants were asked to carry out a short survey of their peers prior to the conference, reflect on the use of digital media in the classroom, consider its importance in relation to more traditional tools and voice their opinions regarding age appropriateness.
Following an intense brainstorming session on these issues and after responding to the introductory lectures of the conference, the students divided digital media into two main categories: Digital skills such as the use of software & programming, which could be easily taught in a classroom context and how to behave in relation to online social media. In their view, this latter issue should already be addressed in primary school so that students can acquire a real understanding of how social media operates and learn how to interact with it in a respectful way. Because children start to use digital media from a very young age (whether authorised or not), it is very important that they learn to behave responsibly online and not fall prey to undesirable phenomena like cyber bullying. Moreover, although digital media is often seen as a source of distraction, it remains a question as to whether it is a bigger source of distraction than more traditional sources such as television, books or other games.
The students came to the conclusion that balance is the key and that excessive use is as harmful in relation to digital media as it is in any other field. Digital media is however a reality and part of the future. They also underlined the importance of including the target group in the conversation – especially since the younger generation born within the digital age, is able to cope with and approach the digital media in a very different way from their predecessors.
Friederike Birkle and Ilona de Haas