Digital Citizenship and Literacy, offered to our Middle School students and taught by Educational Support Coordinator Bella Jaikaria, is one of the several special subject classes that fill out Waldorf School of Princeton’s robust curriculum. While it is true that our hands-on approach to education does not typically rely on computers and digital devices as part of our teaching methods and the delivery of the curriculum, our Digital Citizenship and Literacy class introduces students to digital technology with a focus on safe, ethical, and responsible use. Further, it positions the use of digital technology within a framework of the human experience - a core component of a Waldorf education.
Our 8th grade class recently learned about the collection of personal information through websites and applications (apps). The students were then tasked with designing and presenting their ideas for their own websites or apps that would need to collect some forms of information from users to provide a customized service. Students had to employ their creative and innovative processes in this assignment, as well as problem solving and strategizing skills, to plan for a platform that customers would want to use and would trust with providing their personal information. Additionally, the students were required to consider the marketing and monetization of their website or app designs.
As a final step to the project, our 8th graders formally “pitched” their ideas to the class. After a brief presentation, each student was able to take questions from classmates who would then rate the “product” based on factors such as the customized experience of the application or website, the use and protection of the information collected from the user, the potential for monetization, and whether or not the product had a humane design.
Each of our 8th grader’s ideas for websites or applications attempted to solve a problem the 8th grader may have experienced or an awareness of a societal need, particularly those that are relevant and more pressing due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Our 8th grade future entrepreneurs demonstrated, not only their understanding of the overall concept regarding the use and sharing of data and personal information by online applications, but also a desire to use digital technology and its applications to solve real-world problems and to foster relationships to the environment, to one’s community, and to one another.