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Teaching Digital Literacy Skills in the Classroom

By McGraw-Hill Education 2 years agoNo Comments
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In today’s learning environments, literacy skills are often required to go beyond the traditional – for both students and instructors. With so much available technology being offered for use in our classrooms, it is integral for instructors and their students to become versed in digital literacy.

The study Mapping Digital Literacy Policy and Practice in the Canadian Education Landscape, written by Michael Hoechsmann and Helen DeWaard, examines research on the use of digital literacy in Canadian schools. The authors define digital literacy as not just having the minimum requirements to be able to use technology, but the broader ability to actively contribute to a society where digital resources are used in all aspects of our lives.

With technology evolving on a day-to-day basis, including the use of social media and smart phones, opportunities and challenges are abundant. These constant advances make it difficult to plan for the future, but not impossible. To help instructors do so, we will be examining the suggested role of instructors in the aforementioned study, as well as digital literacy trends.

 

The Role of the Instructor

The Mapping Digital Literacy research suggests that instructors striving to become masters in teaching and understanding digital literacy skills must be divided into three parts. These three pieces include instructors as designers, curators and activators of learning.

 

Designer

The internet and its wealth of digital possibilities has allowed teachers to design unique learnings with different open and easily accessible resources

Digital technologies are helping teachers to become designers in a variety of ways, like designing learning spaces and activities using universal design principles. Teachers can use modular, specific and scalable events when influencing design choices for learning events and move toward more modern work spaces that can be inspired by a flipped classroom or incorporate blended learning.

No classroom space is the same and they can often be built of complex layers and roles. Coming up with clear structures and models can help outline expectations and lead to a better platform when starting to combine the design of learning with new technology.

The use of technology in the classroom is impacting routines – modifying our existing lesson designs might not work. Instructors might have to consider entirely changing their learning design in order to properly accommodate the appropriate acceptance and use of technology. Using technology in the classroom is becoming more of a norm and finding the ability to help design lessons and learning with technology in mind will lead to new routines and help support learning with the use of technology.

 

Curator

Information and data can be more easily shared than ever with the introduction of platforms like Pinterest or Storify. Resources and learning materials can become collected and shared online in blogs or through specific hashtags. Classroom resources and outlines are being offered through a variety of owners, creating accessible meetings places online.

Curating a collection of reliable digital resources is no small task and requires collaboration among peers. By networking with other instructors, personal collections can grow and change. Teachers curate the information and activities their students will interact and engage with to help promote learning. Curating different content allows for teachers to create diverse learning experiences that evolve and change over time.

 

Activator

With the help of students, the instructor as activator helps to create the learning process. Activators are passionate about their instruction, using digital technologies to challenge their students and the results to help inform their teaching.  The instant feedback often provided through digital technologies allows activators to constantly learn about their students in real time and include those learning in their future lessons. In addition to providing instructors feedback, students are able to learn from one another through the open communication provided with the use of digital applications.

Activators help instructors to better understand their role in the realm of digital literacy. They help to establish goals and paint a picture of what success looks like. The blended learning environments being created by instructors as activators need to be supported and shared with like-minded educators. By bringing together instructors with similar passions for digital literacy, they are able to collaborate and help share what they’ve learned in and through the digital landscape.

Trends in Digital Ed-Tech

As classrooms and their participants become more tech-savvy, certain trends have arisen in terms of products being introduced into the classroom. Below are four examples of growing trends in educational technology being seen in the classroom.

 

Mobility and Bring Your Own Device

Using mobile and personal devices in the classroom is a growing trend in Canada. When schools provide internet or intranet for students, they are able to connect with their own devices to access various ed-tech platforms. However, bringing your own device to class poses a challenge for teachers – becoming managers who must oversee the proper integration of the devices into their lessons. The classroom can sometimes become flipped, with students becoming the experts.

Introducing new technologies into the classroom has some additional challenges:

  • Finding the right support system to troubleshoot internet or software issues
  • Creating a plan for when devices are to be used and developing acceptable usage mandates
  • Providing equal opportunity and accessibility to all students to ensure everybody is able to develop equally
  • Ensuring the safety of personal student information

Despite these challenges, the possibilities offered by incorporating technology in the classroom cannot be ignored. Although it might not always be a smooth process, the benefits of experimenting with technology in the classroom can outweigh the challenges that need to be overcome.

 

Interactive Whiteboards

The use of interactive whiteboards has become increasing popular resource in many classrooms. Using digitally advanced technology like interactive whiteboards provides another way for students to engage with course materials. Using digital content on these boards opens up the possibilities for what content can be used in class, providing a broader range of topics and resources that students can be exposed to.

One challenge associated with the use of interactive whiteboards is to make sure they don’t become a glorified projector. It’s important for teachers to understand and take advantage of their interactive abilities and design their lessons to utilize the technology. Instructors are encouraged to collaborate and share sources in order to enable them to better utilize interactive technology in their classrooms.

Another hurdle to overcome with the trend of digital whiteboards is their cost. Despite their appeal of supporting digital tech and student engagement, in many cases, their cost outweighs the benefits.

 

Cloud technology

Being able to share, save and create information through the cloud presents a unique opportunity for students and instructors. Resources and products are more easily accessible not only the classroom, but at home, in libraries and almost anywhere learners can connect to the internet. Projects can be worked on remotely and experiences can be shared globally. Having content open and accessible by their peers also pushes students to be more accountable for their work and strive to do their best. Students are able to grow their digital literacy as responsible participants online. For instructors, finding the right platforms and resources can increase personalization in their teaching.

Cloud sharing also comes with its own challenges. Institutions where the data is to be shared must have a readily available internet connection in order for the process to run smoothly. Policies and guidelines for documents must also be established in order for the shared content to be appropriate and used properly. Input and consent from parents must also be considered.

 

Augmentation of Physical Spaces

In some classrooms across Canada, digital technology is being used to augment the physical. Through the use of QR codes, wearable devices or activity trackers, classrooms can be changed through the use of digital content.

Being able to incorporate digital assets like video or audio into physical spaces presents a way to invite outsiders into the realm of learning. Instructor and student projects can be easily shared with educational officials or parents who want to learn more. Students can create video or audio messages to be shared through physical events like open houses or exhibits showcasing student work.

Through augmented physical spaces, students are given the opportunity not only to create their work, but share their reasoning behind it. They can reflect on the creation process, enhancing the learning experience and adding a layer of metacognition to the learning process.

 

Digital Literacy in the Future

The role of the instructor and student in the world of digital literacy has been defined, but still remains fluid as new advances are made that can see them develop and change. For now, it’s important for instructors to keep an open mind when it comes to using tech in the classroom. Talk to your peers and try to find ways that you can incorporate aspects of the digital into your classroom to help engage your students as responsible participants in digital literacy.

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  Digital Literacy
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