In the summer term The Digital Life Skills Company ran 10 ‘Digital Thinking Skills’ workshops in primary and secondary schools across the region, supported by an RSA Catalyst grant. Feedback from schools in Manchester, Stockport, Macclesfield and Stoke-on-Trent showed online skills had improved after just one session. There was a high level of appreciation and learning from teachers as well as students:

  • 100% of teachers agree students benefited from the workshop.
  • 100% of teachers agreed the workshop(s) better equipped students to navigate the online world.
  • 100% of teachers agreed that following the workshops students are less likely to be misled online.
  • 86% of teachers agreed the skills students learnt would help them in their school work.

93% of the pupils taking part said they had learnt from the workshops, including techniques for verifying news stories and understanding how the algorithms that serve them information determine what they see:

“I learned that you can pay Google to appear at the top of a search list.”

“I learnt that you can check if a story is true by reading it all the way to the end, finding the original source and checking other sources.”

“I learnt how to fact check and how to tell if something is an advert or not.”

Here’s what Co-op Academy Stoke-on-Trent had to say:

Some of our Year 7 students were lucky enough to have The Digital [Life] Skills Company visit them this week, as they delivered a full day’s workshop on digital skills and online life.

Shelley and Laura guided the students’ through the murky online world, as they learned about advertising; clickbait; viral campaigns and much more.

Milly said: “It was a bit of an eye-opener really. Some of the things we learned were scary; some amazing.”

  

The workshop really got going when the students’ got into groups to discuss ‘falsehoods spread faster online than truths.’ Year 7 were amazed to find out that some topics that went viral online were actually false, and never really happened (like the London Eye being on fire during the London riots, and giant 4-foot rats found in London).

In groups, the students were tasked with a fact-finding mission. They delved into some stories that have gone viral online and had to pick out the facts and the falsehoods. This included reading articles all the way through (rather than just the headlines) and picking out certain language. This included the words ‘purported’; ‘rumoured’ and ‘opinion’ – words which the students’ learned were used by journalists when they don’t have any actual evidence for the story they are telling.

Jack said: “It was really interesting. Made me more aware of what is going on online and what to look out for.”

Canva [a graphic design tool] was then used as the students created digital posters about factfinding online. This put their creative skills to the test as they had to use the software to showcase everything they had learned during the day. This followed a session of ‘bingo’ where the students had to decide whether online posts/articles were fake or true.

Year 7 really enjoyed the workshops and produced some great work. We are thankful to The Digital Life Skills Company (especially Shelley and Laura) for visiting us and delivering the sessions. We hope to host more in the future.

Read next…

Spotting Advertising Online: Why We Need To Educate Young People.

Teach Your Child To Spot Hidden Advertising Online.

Be Ad-Aware! Chats To Have With Your Child.