EDAA and Media Smart educational resource adopted in Ireland – An Interview with Jane McGarrigle, Webwise

EDAA and Media Smart educational resource adopted in Ireland – An Interview with Jane McGarrigle, Webwise

Recently, the EDAA in collaboration with Media Smart UK created an educational resource in order to inform young people between 11-16 years about online, data-driven advertising. The fun, engaging and interactive materials provide information for teachers and students on the functioning of data-driven advertising and on how to best manage the online ad experience through the AdChoices Icon and youronlinechoices.eu.

Webwise is the Irish Internet Safety Awareness Centre which is co-funded by the Department of Education and is co-financed by the European Union’s Connecting Europe Facility. Webwise promotes safer, better Internet use through awareness raising and education initiatives targeting teachers, children, young people and parents. We are, therefore, absolutely delighted to have partnered with Webwise and introduced the resource into the Irish market. In this interview, Jane McGarrigle – Project Officer at Webwise – speaks about the importance of media literacy and empowerment through education, in particular for children.

Jane, it has been a pleasure working with you to introduce this important educational resource to the Irish market. Could you tell us firstly a little about Webwise and its objectives?

Webwise develops and disseminates resources that help teachers integrate digital citizenship and online safety into teaching and learning in their schools. These resources address topics such as online bullying, image-sharing, sexting, media and information literacy, privacy, rights online and much more. Webwise also provides information, advice, and tools to parents to support their engagement in their children’s online lives. With the help of the Webwise Youth Advisory Panel, Webwise develops youth oriented awareness raising resources and training programmes that promote digital citizenship and address topics such as online wellbeing, cyber-bullying and more. We very much believe in the benefits of the internet and celebrate the opportunities it creates. Our organisation and resources encourage and promote positive engagement with digital media and technology.

How important is educating young people in the digital sphere?

Digital and media literacy has become increasingly essential to us all in our day to day lives, and is likely to become even more important as society and technology evolves. Digital skills are required to participate in many aspects of life now and it has never been more important for young people to develop digital skills while also having an understanding of how these digital technologies and media work. The rate at which technology and digital media evolves also bring challenges for young people and educators providing guidance in this area. While there can be a tendency to assume that all young people are ‘digital natives’ and have all of the necessary skills, knowledge and understanding to use technology and digital media, they need to be supported in navigating and engaging with it.

How can education help in empowering children to take control of their online advertising experience, with informed and effective choices?

Education is one of the cornerstones of supporting people in navigating the online world and it is at the heart of the work of Webwise. Experts agree, while it is important to highlight the risks which the internet may pose to children, a balance must be struck when it comes to online safety which acknowledges the many benefits and opportunities the internet offers. Practical, guided and modelled opportunities to learn in context will help children develop the understanding required to navigate the digital world. In our work, we take a balanced approach to the internet, promoting the benefits and opportunities while also recognising the challenges and equipping young people to make the most of the digital world.

How can this new resource contribute to the goals of Webwise and play a vital role in your broader educational efforts?

To be digital media literate, students must be able to navigate, assess and know the critical questions to ask so that they may participate in civic life as competent and ethical media consumers and creators. This particular resource, developed by Media Smart and the EDAA, is an excellent addition to the suite of programmes and lessons offered by Webwise and offers students a valuable understanding of digital advertising, how their information can be used as part of the digital ad experience and how to manage that experience. This is an ideal resource for schools who have completed the Connected programme.

The resource includes a short, animated film, games, quizzes, teacher presentations and guidance notes, which make up a lesson plan – or a series of activities – to serve as a primary tool for teachers. To find out more, and to download the materials, visit Webwise Ireland’s website.