Blogger Children and Technology Committee

Digital Storytelling and Content Creation with Children

Stories are powerful expressions and conveyors of culture that build empathy, understanding, and help children explore their places in the world. How do we support children to become responsible creators of digital stories? This was the subject of a We Are ALSC Chat on May 20, 2024. Members of the ALSC Children and Technology Committee and other ALSC members met for an hour online to dig into strategies library staff in schools and public libraries can use to ensure we are helping kids grow in the area of digital storytelling.

By incorporating digital content creation into the curriculum, we are seizing an opportunity to teach our students how to create responsibly, and act as ethical digital citizens. One way we can accomplish this is through modeling.

Teaching kids to protect their own copyrights can help them begin to understand the rights of others. Student work is theirs and though many students don’t think twice about sharing the work of others without permission, they may feel differently if their own work is used carelessly. Common Sense Media has lessons on the rights of creators. Helping students to see themselves as legitimate creators adds authenticity to digital citizenship lessons that maximizes impact. Common Sense Education offers a variety of lesson plans and other teaching and learning tools to support our work with kids and media.

Teaching digital citizenship can seem daunting, but can start with small simple steps to raise student awareness. For instance, modeling good digital citizenship by thinking out loud while we are online with students can help narrate the kinds of decision-making processes we hope our students will use. Teaching children the “pause method,” often used in behavioral psychology to short-circuit emotionally fueled action, can be a great place to start. Taking a moment to reflect, (and maybe even research), before posting leads to a greater sense of self and agency, and can help develop key SEL skills. A helpful framework for children to understand their place in the digital world is offered in lesson plan format at Common Sense Education in their Rings of Responsibility model. Embedding digital citizenship principles in other assignments or projects can be another great way to teach and reinforce these lessons – such as talking about copyright when doing a content creation project that uses images.

More formal lessons or library programs could include roleplaying a scenario involving an ethical dilemma, such as exploring what to do when someone you know posts something online that isn’t true. Another idea is to guide children through drafting a privacy policy/terms of use for their own creative work, using Creative Commons licenses as examples of the types of rights students might want to preserve or give up. Hands-on sessions on setting up secure and private accounts can give students, librarians, and teachers a chance to talk through what all those little “checked boxes” on a policy really mean. There are many sources for lesson plans and other tools available through Common Sense, Learning for Justice, Digital Wellness Lab, the News Literacy Project, and others.

Of course, this article and the We Are ALSC Chat it’s based on are not comprehensive resources. But they would be seriously lacking if we didn’t talk about how we can help kids learn to ensure that all voices are heard. Inclusion of diverse perspectives from diverse backgrounds is essential to responsible media creation. One way to help students develop in this area is through helping them identify positive and diverse influencers to follow, such as Mychal Threets, and authors and illustrators of color such as Christian Robinson and Elizabeth Acevedo. Teaching children to value and amplify diverse voices in their own school community starts them on a path to creating equity in digital storytelling.

These kids – with their intelligence, kindness, creativity, and the digital platform to shine their lights around the world — can change that world for the better.

For more information about our chat, check out our slides (which included our guiding questions), as well as an annotated bibliography of content creation tools that we referenced during the program.

Image courtesy of ALSC Children and Technology Committee member, Arika Dickens, who created this graphic for the We Chat slide show.

This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: 3.1, 3.4, 3.6, 3.7, 3.9

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