Digital Civics: How IEA Spyglass Students are Advocating for Positive Change

August 24, 2020

By Nicole Endacott, Senior Program Coordinator 

How we use technology is more important than ever these days – our education, advocacy, work and social lives are primarily limited to online settings. In light of youth’s increased reliance on technology as well as current racial and social justice movements, IEA offered a complimentary Spyglass online workshop series this month called Digital Civics: Changemakers of Tomorrow.

Bethany Ellerbrook, whose graduate research explored tween and teen media engagement, led students through four workshops. In “Fact or Fiction,” students learned how to identify misinformation and craft persuasive pitches in support of a cause they care about. The student-selected topics included global climate change, the Black Lives Matter movement, unequal access to food and clean water, education disparities and marine pollution. It was inspiring to hear directly from our stellar students about the changes they want to make for the betterment of the future!

In “Raising Awareness” and “Telling the Story,” students explored the fundamentals of visual design and video production, then created powerful Instagram posts to advocate for their causes. Finally, in “Content and Conversations,” they discussed online echo chambers and the differences between debate and dialogue, plus shared their final designs with one another.

In the last meetings of each of the two class sections, students shared their final thoughts and takeaways: they were proud of themselves for what they were able to create in under two weeks and excited to continue acting in support of their causes. Several students were also inspired to share their creations on their own social media! See below for some of their final creations, and see the rest on the class Instagram Page.

Although we are looking forward to learning together in person again, it has been incredible to meet students from all over the country. This summer, the Spyglass program has served students from almost 20 states. In the Digital Civics series alone, brought together students from California, Washington, DC, Florida, Arkansas and more. We can’t wait to see how these students continue to make a difference and advocate for their causes!

The final Digital Civics workshop ended with a quote from the late civil rights activist and US Representative John Lewis: “When you see something that is not right, you must say something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part…”

We’d love to hear from our community: what causes are you passionate about? What online resources help you and others advocate for positive change?



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