The Healthy Digital Life for Pupils Project [HD-LIFE] aimed to support competencies regarding "security" and "information and data literacy," which are among the core competencies of the conceptual reference model of the European Digital Competence Framework through the learning of tools, settings, and strategies suited to both competencies. Internet and mobile communication technologies, which offer rich opportunities for entertainment, learning, creativity, socialisation, and exploration, may be a source for concern. In the HD Life project, efforts were made to overcome these problems positively, and, through its capacity-building contribution in the fields of science, education, and human resources, has resulted in the acquisition of relevant skills and competencies through open education, innovative practices, and the strengthening of the teaching profession. HD-LIFE's blended learning tools, which can be described as an innovative open-source learning and development project, have helped transform schools into 21st century learning environments, aiming to guide the members of the school community on main problem areas in digital life management and related strategies. Designing open education resources by separating them from traditional methods and taking advantage of the opportunities offered by the digital world also emphasises audio-visual elements that facilitate learning and remembering, with significant contributions to the efficiency, continuity, and dissemination of outputs.
The project’s target group consisted of a wide range of schools due to diverse subject areas and the large-scale application and dissemination activities conducted across different school types; its primary target groups however were secondary and vocational education institutions. Participants at the project’s multiplier event consisted of 187 school counsellors from Turkey, 27 teachers or candidate teachers from Germany, and 25 teachers from Spain, while focus group meetings (all of which were held in Turkey), were attended by 10 teachers, 10 parents, and 10 students. Seminars on the other hand, were held in 4 different locations, with 40 candidate teachers having attended the seminar in Turkey, 59 candidate teachers having attended the seminar in Germany, 27 candidate teachers in the seminar in Spain, and 30 teachers in the seminar that was held in Switzerland. Activities that were locally implemented saw the participation of 15 students, 150 professional media candidates, 214 students between Grades 2-5, and 73 parents. Targeted policy-making institutions consisted of the Ministry of National Education, the General Directorate of Special Education and Guidance Services, the General Manager and Heads of Departments, the Radio and Television Supreme Council, and, the President and Vice President.
The HD-LIFE project was initiated by a comprehensive research activity using a multiple methodological design approach that provided supporting data for the project’s products – a continuation of the discussion on online security and a healthy digital life that was covered in the project proposal. Research was conducted via interdisciplinary cooperation, and knowledge regarding the project emerged through the contributions made by disciplines such as Communication, Education, and Sociology. Furthermore, HD-LIFE's capacity building efforts in the field of education and human resources were supported by the unique methodological design of its innovative products. In this context, open educational resources were designed by separating them from traditional methods, and by capitalising on the opportunities offered by the digital world, with emphasis placed on audio-visual elements that facilitate learning and remembering across multiple tools. In addition, the encoding of the message was organised in a particularly short, striking, and noteworthy manner with the help of the Knowledge Gap Theory of Communication. HD-LIFE's training and dissemination activities were organised in a hybrid structure where face-to-face and online education were built together. In this context, most of the dissemination seminars were organised online, while reproductive activities were carried out through face-to-face training. Teachers participating in HD-LIFE trainings organised local project activities for students and parents at their own schools, which encouraged the active participation of students in the learning process. HD-LIFE also managed to reach disadvantaged children through the local authorities and included them in project activities. An important success of HD-LIFE was that it received active support from relevant policy-making institutions. In this context, the Ministry of Education General Directorate of Special Education and the Guidance Services and Radio and Television Supreme Council included the project’s products on their corporate websites; in addition to participation and cooperation, this was an important indicator in determining the level of interest shown by policy-making institutions and the validity of project results. Through its products, HD-LIFE has encouraged many of the project’s researchers to support social development by contributing to issues that the Internet and mobile communication technologies are responsible for, and raising efforts to overcome such problems in a positive manner. The editorial book titled “Popular Digital Problems in New Media Age,” consisting of 8 studies under the main themes of “Network Security,” “Problems Specific to Internet Use,” and “Dangers from the Network,” together with an introductory article, addresses these concerns.
HD-LIFE was designed to emphasise students' digital health, which is closely related to the ways in which students learn technology use; according to research, problematic aspects of students’ relationship with the Internet has had a negative effect on their academic success. Increasing knowledge and awareness of these problematic aspects and the ability to manage them will encourage the development of media literacy and critical thinking, and most of all, enable individuals to acquire basic skills and key competences that will support their participation in civic and social life, as well as in their socio-educational and personal development. The ability of schools to fulfil their roles in this context gives strategic importance to the strengthening of teaching profiles. HD-LIFE has adopted the "whole school approach" in which members of the school community were included in the process and which aimed to empower teachers, students, and families through online resources and cooperation. Two significant published scientific studies from HD-LIFE strongly supported the development of this perspective, as well as the thematic and contextual designs of the project products, which are i) “The Opinions of School Community Members on the Opportunities Offered by Internet and Mobile Communication Technologies,” and ii) “Thoughts of Members of the School Community on the Possible Risks of Interaction with Internet and Mobile Communication Technologies.” In this context, products and activities report educational actions aimed at preventing digital problems by involving teachers, as well as students and parents in the achievement of a balanced and healthy online life. The purpose of these products and actions was to create a path that guides target group members to be conscious, responsible, and respectful in their digital activities and to help them understand the ethical implications behind them. This is important, as a map of their online actions will assist them to become healthy adults that can learn better and reach their fullest potential. On that note, several outputs have a character that offers self-evaluation. From this perspective, HD-LIFE prioritised audio-visual and online tools in the preparation and selection of educational materials with a strong focus on learning and teaching. These tools consist of guidelines that contain self-assessment tools such as the "Healthy Digital Life Checklist" and the "Healthy Digital Life Agreement," which are presented as a bridging text that enables broad online audience reach and interaction with external sources; short educational films created through 2-D infographic animation technique and prepared within a scenario and an external voice (narrator); HD Learning Content Management Database, which aims to display convenient and formal ways for communication, comment and transaction, facts, concepts or issues about digital problems, express the set of information about digital problems and information associated with each of them; and posters that serve as visual reminders of learning environments, have the potential to make a difference in students' and teachers' learning environments, and contribute significantly to improving student-teacher interaction as well as students' critical thinking skills. All of HD-LIFE’s educational activities were designed through mixed face-to-face and online methods. It could be said that "Healthy Digital Life Test," which was included in the project’s website, is a mini exercise that aims to raise awareness on the project and its products.
Teachers participated in HD-LIFE’s research activities through focus group interviews, provided significant data on scientific and managerial knowledge acquisition, and contributed significantly to the thematic and contextual design of the project’s products. Teachers and candidate teachers participated in HD-LIFE's capacity-building activities in the field of education through the multiplier event, which contributed to the dissemination of innovative teaching and learning processes to students and, where necessary, to parents. Teachers who participated in HD-LIFE's capacity-building activities in the field of education played a pioneering role in the organisation of local activities. The General Directorate of Special Education and Guidance Services, which was involved in the project in Turkey, performed an important function to ensure the dissemination of outputs throughout the country by sharing HD-LIFE’s audio-visual and online learning tools on its corporate website. Likewise, the Kayseri Provincial Directorate of National Education contributed to the strengthening of the teaching profession profile by motivating teachers to participate in HD-LIFE's capacity-building processes in the field of research and education.
Measurements for determining the project’s impacts and its outputs in Turkey were carried out between 25 September–14 October 2020 across 5 sessions, during multiplier activities for School Counsellors that covered intellectual outputs numbered 01-06. Participant Questionnaires were filled out by 154 teachers in total, with the perceived satisfaction of counsellors measured under 16 titles. In the study, an evaluation was put forward that measured teachers' response to certain statements, and the average values of their answers to said statements. According to findings, participants learnt about education content (comprehensive and interesting use of materials, facilitating learning and remembering, understanding, and responsiveness to needs, among others). Satisfaction levels were quite good with regard to the environment in which it was organised, the training’s duration, and educators. The highest participation rate of 98.7% was noted in the project's handling of an important matter – demonstrating a need for the project. The participation of school counsellors indicated that educational activities were highly effective and successful in responding to requests and needs. It was established that the project’s educational activities were important in contributing to the effective teaching of teachers who will act as guides for a healthy digital life. The project’s results were found to be eligible for dissemination by the Ministry of National Education, the General Directorate of Special Education and Guidance Services, and the Radio and Television Supreme Council, with the aforementioned institutions having included the project’s outputs on their corporate webpages:
From Local Project Activities Implementation Report:
"(...) Students' Views on Short Films About Project Themes Included in Implementation: The short films that were shown about the project themes aroused great interest and curiosity on the students. Almost all of them stated that they did not come across an informative visual presentation about the project themes in their schools before. For example, the vast majority of students explained that they first learned about the harmful consequences of excessive internet use from the topics with a short film (...) They expressed to their classroom teachers that they would be more careful, would pay attention to internet usage times and understood what kind of hazards social media accounts in their own names may have. After the short films were aired, students with classroom teachers discussed short films on project themes during one hour in almost all classes. It was observed that they asked their teachers the questions they wondered about and they watched the short films attentively (..) "
Germany:"(...) The feedback gathered from the participants allows us to conclude that Multiplier Event has been very successful. Although some of the participants are already familiar with some issues, many participants stated that they are not aware of the many potential risks that young people may face when using the Internet. They told us that they had learned a lot about the potentials and risks of Internet use and HD-LIFE Project. They even asked if it was possible to provide all the information to all schools in North Rhine-Westphalia by linking to the project website. In addition to the fact that there should be an emergency file containing relevant information, it was suggested that the link to the Project website should be included in these emergency folders (...) "
Spain:"(...) There was a consensus about the importance of the project themes, the need for them to be presented appropriately in school: 'The thought that they have the right tools and are more conscious of cyberbullying, sexting, even online hate, etc. The sessions seemed well organized and the different activities were programmed satisfactorily. The posters were analyzed and they perceived it as a useful tool to work with their students. The work with group dynamics to examine the healthy digital living guide was found successful. The films were reflected and interpreted in a variety of ways. The views from the participants on the organization were positive (...) "
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- VET schools
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Kayseri Provincial Directorate of Security
University of Barcelona
Universität zu Köln