Maria Teresa' s Learning Diary

On board the European Schoolnet academy Mooc "Developing Digital Skills in your Classroom"


I'm Maria Teresa Carrieri   from Rionero in Vulture, Italy. I teach math, science, technology, english, music and gym in a third class of  the  Istituto Comprensivo " Ex Circolo Didattico" di Rionero in Vulture. I'm very happy to take part at this MOOC and share ideas and experiences with all of you.  I am sure that together we will learn many new things that will help us improve the way we teach in class and prepare future active and aware generations

What are Digital Skills and why do we need them?

The two videos below show clearly what are digital skills and why they are important.

As it is clear from the two video digital skills have become essential in a highly technological society and  who has not a minimum of familiarity in this area runs the risk to remain out of many areas of social life and precludes many possibilities.  I think the Mashable website is too ambitious for 2015. There is still no preconditions to make it fully feasible and many are still mistrust and hostility to technology. Maybe it will come to this in the near future. I think that in a society characterized by a high level of information certainly are essential skills that allow us to access the world of information not only as a person but also as a producer.  Also fundamental is the ability to cope with the demands of personal life, such as access to a banking or administrative service , tools that are becoming more and more important lately. In a globalized world we can not do without the ability to communicate and collaborate remotely using technology tools to get in touch and collaborate with people who live far from us or to maintain contact with relatives and friends who, for various reasons, have moved to another place in the world.

The future of work

As is clear from the videos the work has changed over time. Many jobs today did not exist in the past. I would add, in the past it was more use of physical strength and dexterity, but now, thanks to the use of technology, it is more  an intellectual work.  Many activities that were carried out by humans are now made by machines. How  will be the work in the future? I agree with the ideas emerging from the video: transparent, flat, competitive, on demand.... and as  Antonio Saraceno wrote "democratic". Technology wide spaces of participation, communication and collaboration, allowing individuals access to contexts too far from home, to freely express their views and ideas, to make decisions. All this requires competent and well-prepared people, ready to cope with constant change, resilient. It calls into question the school as a place dedicated to the training of future workers... but not only. It becomes important to ensure to all the appropriate digital skills, overcoming the digital divide  and  by making easily accessible and open the educational resources and the training opportunities. The danger of this process is that the man ends up becoming a digital alienated. Therefore we must train students not only to use technology but also how to manage it, defending own integrity.

2. How to use digital resources/content?

The video shows a series of search engines that are new to me. Generally I use Google because I find it faster and more functional or Mozilla or Explorer. I will try to use other search engines presented.

2.1.b. Searching the Internet - improving your search

After choosing a search engine that best meets our needs we raise the problem of how to search effectively. The Hack College, from the fact that three out of four students do not perform proper research on Google, has recently published interesting an infographic where we can get ideas about how to do the perfect search

Other helpful tips we can take from the document "Google like a boss"

2.1.c. Searching the Internet - advanced search

A useful site helps us to turn our research into a concept map, fast and quick to navigate, but full of links for further study.

2.1.d. Searching the Internet - hidden gems

Wayback Machine is a digital archive of the World Wide Web and other information on the Internet created by the Internet Archive, a nonprofit organization, based in San Francisco, California. It was set up by Brewster Kahle and Bruce Gilliat, and is maintained with content from Alexa Internet. The service enables users to see archived versions of web pages across time (read here ).

2.1.e. Searching the Internet - searching the future internet

This is the website of my school in 2009

2.2.a. Content and Copyright - reliability of digital content

In the video Ollie mentions the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus as example of  a lack of reliability. As some member wrote, in this site there are:

  • no academic links or references and is not a domain of a university
  • no updated since 2010
  • no author's credentials
  • no contact buttom
  • the mesagge about Sasquatch is a fake. In the FAQ we find how to say in different language Tree Octopusses, and in Italian there is no word which speaks about "polipo dell'albero". It does not exist.
  • The url is unknown and it uses just a .net extension.

How to ensure the reliability of internet sources? Browsing the web I found many helpful informations in this regard.  In Italian interesting are the following pages:

2.2.b. Content and Copyright - 7 things you didn't know about Wikipedia

The video highlights some of the characteristics that make Wikypedia a good online encyclopedia:

  • it is  actually  pretty  accurate;
  • it’s  actually  pretty  up  to  date;
  • it  instantly  up dates  itself  because  it  uses  the  power  of  the  crowds
  • has  tabs. Along  the  top  of  the  page  you’ve different  tabs  for  the  article, for  the  discussion, the  editing  and  history.  The  Article  tab  helps  people  understand  about  a  thing.
  • anybody  can  edit  Wikipedia  because  it’s  a  wiki.
  • it’s  available  in a lot of languages ( about 282  languages ).
  • it ca n be turned into  a  book  or  an  e-publication

As a teacher I often use Wikypedia to search for information and guide students toward its proper use

2.2.c. Content and Copyright - understanding copyright

How to use and publish  Internet content is a rather delicate matter, since a number of issues arise relating to ownership of other authors and to the danger of seeing plagiarized the work we have done. Some years ago I was lucky enough to take a course with the Creative Common of which I insert the link below

How to create digital resource/ content?

Writing for the web

The video contains some important information on writing online. Interesting is the inclusion of online conversations between writing instruments. Online conversation is effective if it has a valid structure. To this end it is important  the tool, the preparation of the pupils, but also the presence of a facilitator. This role can be taken by a peer or by the teacher. Noteworthy are the benefits of online conversations not only for those who participate, but also for the reader. As a teacher I have had the opportunity to use with my students the tools of the online conversation in eTwinning projects. The TwinSpace is equipped with a specific forum in this regard.

Even the space for comments on blogs are well suited for this purpose.

The pad, eg. Piratepad or even Google drive have chat feature that encourage conversations at distance.

Another form of writing is online publication. This can happen in many different ways: via blogs, wiky, websites, ebooks, slides. Important that when we write we have very clear the purpose, audience, the features and the application. As a teacher  I used the blogs class. In eTwinning projects I have often had the opportunity to share and publish materials using blogs, wiky and Google sites. In the latter case, these instruments were also used for the collaborative purpose by the various schools.

I agree with those reported by Ollie in the video about online collaboration. Personally I tend to see in the creation of  collaborative learning environments the application of many educational theories that in the reality, for a number of reasons, have been implemented in a limited way. For several years I am realizing European collaborative projects through  eTwinning. My experience is very positive, not only for students but also for me as a teacher.

Thanks to Ollie for his useful suggestions about audio and video in the classrrom. As teacher I use very often with my students   the video as a learning tool.  

Typically we use Movie Maker. However, last year the pupils of the fifth class were very good to  use also several apps on the phone.

An example a video made with Kizoa

This is a videoconference made with Greece

In the video Ollie gives us a series of directions to sites we can use in the classroom:



I used most of these sites in eTwinning projects. I find that Google site is not practical because it has a number of problems relating to the insertion of slides and videos. In the classroom with my students I created a blog using Blogger

My class blog

The video suggest a lot of tools  to  create  games in the clssroom.

Often I use the games to consolidate learning in the classroom or to check what students have learned. A  site of structured games  for primary school in Italian is Babyflash

How to programme machines?

The fourth module is a simple but full of computer programming: to the coding to create apps to robotics. All this is completely new to me because my skills concerning the elearning but not programming. It will be something I'll have to learn over time.

Very interesting signs in coding programs that Ollie has provided in the video.

In Italy last year started a experimental course of  coding at ministerial level ... but the road ahead is still too long before the coding can enter fully into the school curriculum. From what I read I think the coding is very important to improve the logic and creative skills of our students and the so-called computational thinking

Last year I tried to experience something with my students using Kodable, a very simple program for elementary school that does not require previous experience or expertise in this regard.

Pair programming

The video above gives us a clear explanation of the pair programming. How can we understand the  Pair programming (sometimes referred to as peer programming) is an agile software development technique in which two programmers work as a pair together on one workstation. One, the driver, writes code while the other, the observer,pointer or navigator, reviews each line of code as it is typed in. The two programmers switch roles frequently. While reviewing, the observer also considers the "strategic" direction of the work, coming up with ideas for improvements and likely future problems to address. This frees the driver to focus all of his or her attention on the "tactical" aspects of completing the current task, using the observer as a safety net and guide. ( Wikypedia ).

Typically during the activity in the computer lab my students work collaboratively in two. I see in that way to work and cooperate a call to some techniques of cooperative learning. Often in my work as a teacher in the classroom  I use the cooperative work at two. I use it when I ask a student who has achieved the objectives set prior to collaborate and help a peer in difficulties or to realize a task. I think that technique is of a huge importance. The role of controller or aide helps a student to consolidate more deeply own learning and develop his skills, while the other student succeeds in a more comfortable way to achieve the objectives. I agree with Ksenija from Slovenia according to which "Pair work encourages free spirits, and if we provide good management of work, students can work surprisingly well".

4.3. Coding - Links to other subjects

I think that the coding is easily linkable to all school subjects as it is possible to convey very different contents.

5. How to use social media?

As is clear from the video all over the web today is social can, by simple blog where you can share content as well as express ideas and communicate in the comment space, to the social network. The social web will help us overcome the hierarchy and permet at all to communicate directly and to give own opinions directly to government overcoming every hierarchical and bureaucratic step. It allows everyone to have power and make heard his voices. It facilitates knowledge and collaboration between people who have never encountered in reality or living in very distant geographical places. One of the most important characteristics of social web is it’s open. Anybody that has got access to a computer and has got access to the Internet are able to use the online  resources.

As educator I think that social networks, if rightly chosen and controlled by the teacher, are a good tool to use in teaching. I happened to use Facebook in eTwinning projects. Students and teachers from different schools in Europe have formed a group and shared information and materials. Of course it is important to establish some rules for the safety and privacy of the students. Social networks are equipped with tools for sharing images,video, informations. have space for  communication... all that enhance and facilitate collaborative work even at a distance.

Whatsup can easily be used to create a class group to facilitate communication of information or involve the parents in the activity of school children. It's what I achieved last year with the students of the fifth class and my experience has been extremely positive.

The video identifies three types of personal learning networks: face-to-face, digital closed communities, and digital open communities. I can say that my learning network covers all three areas: face to face because I'm part of the school community where I teach and in which every day I meet my students, my colleagues, the other members; the digital closed communities as several years I have become part of the etwinning community both as a teacher and as an ambassador; the open digital community as I got to share materials on slideshare, issuu, Scribd, youtube, I'm part of various professional groups on facebook and I have also a personal professional blog where i public my experiences, the results of my work and my training.

I think it is possible to guide students to use social media responsibly promoting since from the primary school the "education for digital citizenship", making them understand the benefits but also the risks of the use of these tools and making them acquire the right digital skills

What activities can think of to address safe and responsible use of social media by students?

In an eTwinning project we promoted the creation of a handbook of good digital citizen. Students first have made a survey on the use of digital tools to reflect on their own experience, then have seen videos and played games, after they wrote their ideas on padlet and finally created the Decalogue. Interesting were the ideas and conclusions arrived at by pupils.

This is my lesson plan

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