Implementation of ‘Monstrous creatures’ (SOI- PT-106)

Browsing the list of Europeana Learning Scenarios, I’ve decided to use Monstrous Creatures by Natalia Targa, since I felt it could be adapted to information literacy activity for Portuguese 5th-year students, in ICT class. Due to the differences in the age of the students and themes of the class, this scenario was adapted to our specific context rather than straightforward applied.

Digital literacy using Europeana
Digital literacy using Europeana

Catch Your Monster: An Information Literacy Activity

Our goal: with young students from Agrupamento de Escolas Venda do Pinheiro, use Europeana to foster learning about internet search techniques, use digital communication tools, and develop keyboard skills.

The challenge: let’s use Europeana to catch some monsters?

Hands-on learning about search techniques with Europeana.
Hands-on learning about search techniques with Europeana.

The original scenario was developed as a search and discussion activity for 19-year-old students in language classes. Our students are 10-year-old, in ICT class. Therefore, the discussion part of the scenario wasn’t used, and the links referred were used as a topic starter with our pupils. Furthermore, due to severe time restraints, this implementation had to be done with nine 5th year groups of 26 students, with a 50 minute class for each group.

From an information literacy point of view, using Europeana in an activity enables teachers to deeply explore ICT concepts. Since students can’t rely on search engines autocomplete and autocorrect tools, they have to pay attention to what they write in the search box. It’s also a way to show students that online search does not begin and end with Google or other search engines and that independent digital archives can be a powerful way to find targeted results, instead of just using blind trust in a search engine algorithm.

The main theme – monsters, was used to guide the activity, spark student’s interest, and also explored, using brainstorming, small concept map. This was done in order to find further keywords, either in Portuguese or English, that enabled broader search results.

Learning outcomes

Europeana use was demonstrated, prior to the search activity. Specifically, pupils learned how to search using single or combined keywords, and filter the results by media type, or category. Information literacy wise, this was a great opportunity to teach kids about tagging information, and what using tags to describe content enable, from search to machine learning. Also, learning about filtering search results to refine information.

Then, onwards to the task. Groups of pupils (due to materiel constraints, pairs or trios) had to search Europeana using keywords associated with the theme Monsters. From the results, they had to choose three images, and send them to the teacher, correctly referenced. However, they could not download any of the images. They had to use the class email to compose a message, correctly stating the subject of the email, and use the body to paste the direct URL for each of their chosen images. Due to time constraints, we decided not to ask them to identify each chosen image, but they had to correctly state their origin.

The challenge of composing messages on non-mobile devices
The challenge of composing messages on non-mobile devices

Using this scenario, Europeana was a tool for children to develop online search strategies, formal digital communication skills using email, and proficiency in the use of computer interfaces and keyboard writing. This might seem a rather prosaic use of Europeana, but keep in mind that pupils who participated in this activity are very young, and often struggle with the most basic computer use (either because prior to ICT class they rarely used computers, or due to being used to touch-screen mobile device interfaces, that have different interaction principles).

But, beyond and in my view far more important, using Europeana gives the students perception of the importance of our European common heritage, by viewing and interacting with artefacts representative of different European traditions and histories.

That’s essentially it, but the activity has some continuity beyond this time frame. The results chosen by the groups will be used as content for small information tools literacy projects, using text processing, presentations or visual programming with children-friendly computer languages (essentially, Scratch). But that’s still in the future.

To sum up:

students searching for representation of monsters on the Europeana Collections
students searching for representation of monsters on the Europeana Collections
  • Adaptation of the LS Monstrous creatures by Natalia Targa to an information literacy activity for Portuguese 5th-year pupils in ICT class;
  • Specific goals: information literacy: develop search techniques, understand keywords, learn to refine a search, learn to use search engines, discover digital archives; identify and reference information.
  • Other pecific goals: computer literacy: compose messages using digital communications tools; proficiency in computer interface and peripherals (keyboard, mouse).
  • Outcomes: an email message per group, sharing chosen URLs, correctly referenced.

Did you find this story of implementation interesting? Why don’t you read about the related learning scenario?

Monstrous creatures by Natalia Varga

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