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RGU academic awarded funding for animated web series

Friday 30 April 2021

Konstantina WEB
An RGU academic has been awarded funding for a research project which aims to explore issues surrounding young people’s development of digital literacy and resilience

Dr Konstantina Martzoukou, Teaching Excellence Fellow at RGU’s School of Creative and Cultural Business, will develop a set of resources, activities and lesson plans that school librarians and teachers can use to support young people.

‘Maddie is Online’ is a collaboration between Dr Martzoukou, Woodfarm High School and Eastwood High School in East Renfrewshire and has been awarded £9,373 funding from the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC)’s  School Library Improvement Fund (SLIF)  - and is one of only 13 projects across Scotland to achieve funding.

Dr Martzoukou said: “The ‘Maddie is Online’ project aims to explore issues surrounding young people’s development of digital literacy and resilience as the online citizens of tomorrow and to develop a set of resources, activities and lesson plans that school librarians and teachers can use to support young people with the multiple challenges they encounter when navigating their online environments.

“The series was started to explore issues surrounding young children’s development of digital literacy as the online citizens of tomorrow. Young people are growing up online with a range of new social technologies but still need to master the guiding principles of online society and develop resilience in the online environment.  Teachers, librarians and parents can play an important role in supporting children within the everyday life context to become digital citizens: informed, active, ethical, safe and responsible members of the online society.

“In order to engage younger children in these issues, it is important to offer learning opportunities, which are interesting and relate to their everyday life online experiences.  Previous research has found that there are diverse challenges and opportunities created in the online everyday life context  as children (as young as 5 years old) are now using a wide range of social media enabled online tools for messaging, video sharing and online gaming to connect with others, learn and experiment.  There are different educational material available for young children and their families, which could be highly valuable for educating young children.”

Dr Martzoukou is also currently taking part in the RGU Innovation Accelerator programme, which recognises the University’s role not just to the economic prosperity of the region, but the need to innovate in solving social problems which have impacted on individuals and communities, many exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘Maddie is Online’ is one of the 12 selected innovations out of hundreds of applications.  Recognising the dramatic change the world has undergone as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the accelerator programme at RGU evolved to uncover new ideas that solve at least one of three major challenges facing the world and demonstrate both impactful and scalable solutions.

The three challenges fall into the categories of; our society, which involves seeking creative responses to the challenges of Covid-19 and its impact on education, cities, healthcare, businesses and our communities; our people which involves seeking ambitious ideas to tackle inequality in our society and reduce poverty, give children better outcomes and empower communities; and our wellbeing which involves seeking bold innovations which prepare our healthcare systems for the future and tackle our personal health and mental wellbeing challenges. 

‘Maddie is Online’ uses cartoon storylines with real voice actors addressing diverse topics such as online connectivity, safety, resilience, and information evaluation. It can be incorporated into different subjects to enable engaging and creative learning. It is for those interested to harness cartoon animation to stimulate critical thinking and discussion inside the classroom and at home.

After being piloted in schools, ‘Maddie is Online’ will now deliver workshops in selected schools in Scotland. Future planning is dedicated to creating new episodes and expanding the service by means of creating additional capacity to deliver workshops. 

To find out more about the ‘Maddie is Online’ project, please visit: https://maddiesonline.blogspot.com/ and https://www.cilips.org.uk/librariesareessential-maddie

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