itsme® in the classrooms…
itsme® identity app co-produces ‘School Television 2.0’ with ED TV
Young people today are nimble-fingered when it comes to Instagram and TikTok, but they need to increase their media literacy in the rapidly changing world of digital. That’s why itsme® has joined forces with the educational school broadcaster, ED TV (ED for 'education' and also the name of the logo character of the platform), which is always coming up with inventive ideas. “This is the right approach for reaching our youngsters” is the general feedback being received from enthusiastic teachers.
“When your pupils start asking you spontaneously, ‘Miss, when are you teaching us another lesson with ED TV?’, then you know you’re on to a good thing.” Ann Beirnaert (50), until recently a moral education teacher at the GO! Technical Athenaeum in Lokeren, is full of praise for ED TV, the digital youth platform that has conquered Belgian schools since the pandemic. ED TV makes it possible to discuss sensitive topics such as cyber-bullying, drugs or sexting in the classroom. And it does so in a highly accessible way, using short movies in which young actors play the leading roles. There’s also a campervan in which young people can film themselves, an online chat forum and debating sheets designed to get discussions going in the classroom, etc. It’s School Television 2.0, but a lot edgier and more daring.
ED TV & Camping ED
“This is the right approach for reaching our youngsters,” believes Hilke Van Damme (39), student counsellor and anatomy teacher at the same secondary school in Lokeren. “The TV series are entirely focused on young people’s lifestyles. The students are able to identify with the actors in the series and even recognise themselves in the situations depicted. The teaching package that comes with the series helps to trigger their attention, enriching their view on things and their learning experience.”
One of ED TV’s real centres of attraction for the youngsters is Camping ED: a camper van in which the pupils are able to talk about their experiences and the way they see the world. This studio on wheels has already made its way to the playground at Lokeren Atheneum. “The students can go into the van in pairs, the door closes and they are then given a question about the subject or topic of the series they are working on in class,” explains Ann Beirnaert. “This results in some fascinating and sometimes hilarious reactions, all recorded in front of the camera. ED TV then produces a compilation of the best moments, which is posted later on the platform. These videos provide the best trigger for a classroom discussion: ‘Here’s what your classmates are saying; what do you think about it?’”
ED TV also appears to be very popular among teachers. After all, it’s not always easy for them to keep their finger on the pulse of youth-related topics. “The teaching packages provided by ED TV help us to see things a little more broadly, outside the typical school-related context,” says Hilke Van Damme. “This makes it much easier for us to pick up on some of the issues that resonate with teenagers.”
The teaching packages provided by ED TV help us to see things a little more broadly, outside the typical school-related context. This makes it much easier for us to pick up on some of the issues that resonate with teenagers.
Hilke Van Damme
The ready-to-use packages also serve as a guide for the teacher, adds Ann Beirnaert. “All the content is well put together and coordinated in a really good house style, ranging from debating sheets through to feedback material. And the whole package is pedagogically supported, which helps you to feel at ease. As a teacher, it is also important that the subject matter you teach is in line with the final terms’ targets. In the space of just one school year, ED TV has become common currency at our school, with both pupils and teachers.”
Each topic covered is given shape and form in consultation with specialist organisations. This autumn, itsme® is also present in the classroom, alongside ED TV. The team behind the identity app has worked on a new fiction TV series about being media literacy. The videos point out the dangers of the Internet to the youngsters, giving them tips about being more aware of potential cyber hazards when they are online. “I think that many of our pupils already know itsme®,” says Hilke Van Damme. “There is a lot going on around fake accounts at the moment, so having a watertight ID system will certainly appeal to them.”
According to Laure Ven (25), who plays the role of Amalia in this series, there is still a great deal more that education can do to increase media literacy among young people. “The current content of lessons does not focus on what you come across in real life. I play myself in a number of educational theatre pieces, dealing with topics such as the use of photos in the media. Youngsters very often don’t realise that a photo can be posted on a site in an instant, but once it’s online, it’s out there forever. Schools should prepare them better for what really happens in practice.”
As a teacher, Hilke Van Damme can only reiterate that. “We can see every day at school that we need more guidance that points out the hazards of being online. Social media have a great part of responsibility here: young teenagers simply aren’t ready for it. They don’t think enough about what they are sharing – and they don’t realise the consequences of their actions online.”
Some young people don’t find it easy to navigate their way through the digital world, even if they grew up in it. “We have a swipe generation that likes nothing better than watching short film clips,” believes Ann Beirnaert. “But because they do everything with their smartphones, students’ online skills may actually have deteriorated. Filling in a form on the computer, creating an Excel spreadsheet, etc. Young people no longer take the time to learn the ins and outs of online administrative procedures, so it’s an important topic to cover in the teaching packages. And most of all: we need to make them aware of the importance of a secure environment for their privacy. Why is it so important to identify yourself with itsme®? Because that way, you’re protecting your personal data and not throwing it indiscriminately out on to the net.”
We need to make them aware of the importance of a secure environment for their privacy. Why is it so important to identify yourself with itsme®? Because that way, you’re protecting your personal data and not throwing it indiscriminately out on to the net.
Hilke Van Damme believes that the ED TV fiction series and itsme® will have the same effect. “In my experience, audiovisual material is a great way to get things going in the classroom,” she says. “Moving images have a different effect than just a dry fill-in-the-blanks book, where you lose the students much faster. When I present a session using ED TV, the children are always surprised that the lesson has gone by so quickly. And after each episode, they interact with each other better in class, too. These debates can sometimes go quite deep. The students remain fascinated by the topic and will remember the knowledge they have acquired for longer.”