15 Mar

Digital Literacy – getting the experience.

Following on from this post, we next look at how we actually integrate ‘digital literacy’.

As discussed, the skills of digital literacy are tough to pin down precisely, but we are able to think roughly about what skills, concepts and experience we want our pupils to experience. Ask yourself some key questions:

Does the school model effective use of social media?

Is there an esafety policy which incorporates pupil voice and has some pupil led elements?

Is it integrated into the curriculum, through computing led topics?

Do teachers model the skills they expect children to be able to use, for example searching, creating, using the internet safely?

Are there any whole school projects or activities which link effectively to Digital Literacy?

Let’s take three concepts and look at what we can practically do in schools.

Keeping Safe Online

Probably the easiest just because there are so many resources out there. As a school you need to ensure your staff are up to date with issues, build in regular training and share resources frequently. This site, from e-safety adviser is choc full of recent updates and a newsletter which can be shared with staff and parents alike. You can also use various dates in the year to highlight issues, such as Internet Safety Day.

In the classroom, e-safety needs to be covered regularly, I would advise a refresh with each new topic, especially if you asking the children to research and use the internet. Ensure children are happy with the language used to describe internet safety, who they can talk to and what happens (as a school) if something that they are uncomfortable with takes place. Key discussion questions, age appropiate, are helpful and can be a shared staff discussion. Displays, posters and regular discussion are key.

More information, and a year by year breakdown can be found here: Curriculum information here.

 

Communication

The concept of ‘communicating responsibly, competently, confidently and creatively’ is probably the hardest one to quantify. As a school this needs to be modelled, to pupils and parents. Teachers need to ensure they too are able to navigate this and mdoel these skills. Whilst you may not be ready for class blogging projects or whole school email just yet there are lots of ideas that can give pupils these experiences.

  • Simple commenting and sharing writing can be done a number of sites which don’t require whole school log in Lend Me Your Literacy, 100 Word Challenge. Other sites encourage the sharing of ideas and resources, such as the NRich Maths Site
  • It doesn’t always have to be about writing and commenting. Skype is the perfect example of communicating digitally, the education site is a great way of getting started.
  • Communciating within the school is also a good way of modelling skills. Beyond whole school projects such as Google Drive, or a VLE, you can also ask children to collaborate on shared projects in the classroom: Haiku Decks, Padlets, Scratch – all allow a class to register and then to share the outcomes.

 

Information

Accessing information online can be a minefield – and the lessons of old where resesarched and made notes need to be fine tuned to ensure that they fully understand what they are doing. Again, modelling this is key. From early on the teacher needs to be using search engines, looking at specific sites and modelling how to navigate the huge quantity of information which can be found.

This is very much linked to how networks and the internet work, which is a curriculum aim, and there are a number of resources out there. The BBC are currently putting lots of effort into this, and have some great resources. Building this into a fun topic is one of my next jobs…

Remember as well that it should not always be about ‘googling’ information. Finding different opinions, sharing what they find and examining different opinions are all key to this aspect of digital literacy. Using apps for informatiom finding, and digital books is also important – representing information in different ways!

 

Other resources:

Simon Haughton’s site is choc full of ideas and incredibly practical resources for all aspects of computing.

The Literacy Shed, and other Sheds! Perfect for digital media, inspiration and information.

 

01 Mar

What is Digital Literacy?

A recent twitter conversation on the #primedchat was discussing Digital Literacy alongside reading and writing skills. During this chat it occurred to me that some were confusing the notion of ‘Digital Literacy’ with that of using edtech for ‘ordinary’ literacy. I thought a discussion around what Digital Literacy actually is might be useful.

Schools in the new curriculum are asked to:

evaluate and apply information technology, including new or unfamiliar
technologies, analytically to solve problems
 are responsible, competent, confident and creative users of information and
communication technology.

These aims, split across Key Stage 1 and 2 succinctly capture what Digital Literacy is all about; our pupils develop skills which allow them to navigate digital media – to make use of technology available to them creatively, carefully and confidently. Indeed there is an argument that these skills are rapidly becoming the currency of a new education. (see this article in the Daily Telegraph) However it is in schools’ interest to navigate these skills as they will support learning later in their school life (if not straight away!)

Digital Literacy involves some key areas – many of which will be familiar to schools already:

  • keeping safe online

Which would include keeping details private online – looking at your internet footprint – thinking about your image and identity. 

  • communication

Including etiquette online, adding comments to blogs (creating blogs with an audience in mind) 

  • Information

Also linked to how networks work (which is listed as a curriculum aim) – but also examines the use of search engines and how to get information from the internet in general.  

Debate
Interestingly these skills were being discussed long before the New Curriculum was finally introduced. The old ICT curriculum demanded that many programmes were used specifically for skill development – e.g. Powerpoint for presentations. The limitations of this can be seen, and as technologies changed the curriculum became obviously out-of-date. The skills became about adaptability and problem solving. Attempting to teach to technologies that we do not yet know. Equipping children to ‘try out’ ideas, to use what they know and to know where to find more information safely is what being digitally literate is about. FutureLab produced this document in 2010 which is jam packed with ideas!

How we do this could be a whole new discussion – but it is clear that teachers and schools have to be confident technology users first!

I would love to hear your thoughts about this!