Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Why Digital Literacy?

Why digital literacy? As I am at the end of my qualification, I have an interesting conundrum. 

Throughout this year I have explored Acquired Attention Deficit Disorder; which seems to have its neurological development rooted in the “over usage” of technology. 

I have wondered about the “gimmick” and “entertainment” aspect of the over dependence on technology in the classroom and its impact on teaching. I have questioned the relevance of the subject to some of the work based learners that I teach. 

It seems I have formed a view that was not too positive about how the digital pendulum was swinging so far to one side in the education world.  Then, I started to realise that there was the possibility that I can teach this subject and there just may be a purpose to it after all.

From The Telegraph, 11 Nov 2013, Mark Surman, Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation, argues that skills such as [digital literacy] are as important as learning to read and write.
“Becoming literate in how the technical world works is equivalent to reading, writing and maths. We need to look at this fourth literacy as mainstream,” he says.

“Not just at the level of the very basics of operating a computer but actually understanding how the code and mechanics behind it work. In the same way that if all you had was oral communication and you didn’t have writing, you really wouldn’t understand the logic of our society.”

If you want your kids to be smart and safe in the digital world – whether that is in school or out of school – having them understand how the technology works, how copyright works, how identity works, is way more important than whether they have access to information or not” says Mark.

“I would hope that in five years’ time, we are no longer talking about computer science versus ICT,” says Mark. “But that we are actually talking about the fact that understanding how the digital world works, is as important as reading, writing and maths for every student.

If you don’t really understand how the digital world functions you’re really living in a world where you don’t have the creative and innovation skills that are going to be needed in the future economy.

The ability to embed learning digital skills inside what we might think of as traditional skills, across the whole curriculum, is certainly something to think about.”

There does seem to be more and more emphasis on being digitally literate; I have witnessed this on a world wide scale. Sit back and watch the Twitter feed from #educhat, #ukedchat, #aussieEDchat, #Nzedchat, #AsiaEDchat, #edchatIndia, and #edchatCA; that is only part of what I have been reading.

It appears to be a huge subject area need and every country is vying for position. We have all bought into the importance of the subject; that it “is as important as reading, writing and maths for every student.” I can’t help but think that it sort of sneaked up on me and I have been pounced on. 

I am having to re-evaluate, re-think, and reflect on my teaching abilities and capabilities. I have to adapt my style of teaching to incorporate some collaborative, synchronous tools that are digitally supportive in my technological learning environment. I wonder about the next generation of teachers being trained and how their digital education is preparing them to manage their learners and classroom.

Why not digital literacy? In a way, it seems their educational career journey will be much easier than mine because their digital footprint is much bigger than mine. Unless it all goes horribly wrong; the world wide web shuts down and there is no more technology….then I will be back; and the pendulum will swing my way.

Tell me what you think? Are you digitally prepared? How has digital literacy and technology impacted your teaching environment? Are you embedding technology across subject areas? How do you feel about digital dependence?

Please comment.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

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