Recent literature on media education and European policy documents point out that there is an urgent need to develop digital literacy interventions for adolescents. This is particularly true for Italy, were the new digital agenda for school developed by the Ministry of Education (Piano Nazionale Scuola Digitale), as well as recent OECD research reports, underline the absence of solid and shared strategies for the development of digital competence in the school system, and the need to develop new theoretical and methodological educational standards.
Drawing on the European digital competence framework for citizens (DigComp 2.0) and on the support of a team of expert from different disciplines and fields (sociologists, psychologists, media educators, experienced teachers and school principals), the "Digital well-being" project provides secondary school teachers the opportunity to participate in a free training initiative aimed at developing digital competence among their students.
The intervention is delivered in a blended learning environment and deals with the four most relavent themes in digital competence research: 1) searching and evaluating information online, 2) managing online identity and relationships, 3) creating effective digital content; 4) managing time online within today's communicative overabundance.
To evaluate the impact of this training course on students’ digital competence and well-being, we enrolled all 10th grade classes (N=171) within 18 self-selected high schools located in the provinces of Milano and Monza-Brianza (Lombardy, Italy). Following a cluster randomization approach based on 33 blocks of classes defined by course of studies within schools, we identified a total of 41 treated units out of 171. Teachers of the treated classes were left free to participate in the first session of the digital well-being training course (2017-2018 school year), with a limit of two participants per class. Teachers working in the remaining 130 classes (control group) were excluded from the first training session, but they will be given the opportunity to receive our intervention later, in the following school year (2018-2019).
Our RCT is designed to evaluate whether teacher participation to the first session of the digital well-being training course significantly affect one or more of the following primary outcomes measured at the student level: digital knowledge and skills, smartphone pervasiveness in daily life, problematic digital media use, types of internet use and perceived outcomes of internet use. Moreover, we also test the additional hypotheses that higher levels of digital competence and digital well-being could contribute to increase students’ general well-being and academic achievement. To do so, we collect a secondary set of outcomes measuring students’ happiness, satisfaction with life, average grade points and standardized test scores.