Digital literacy across the curriculum

Digital Literacy across the Curriculum (pdf), from FutureLab, UK, is a 63-page handbook aimed at educational practitioners and school leaders in both primary and secondary schools who are interested in creative and critical uses of technology in the classroom. The handbook is supported by case studies (pdf) of digital literacy in practice and video case studies.

The handbook aims to introduce educational practitioners to the concepts and contexts of digital literacy and to support them in developing their own practice aimed at fostering the components of digital literacy in classroom subject teaching and in real school settings.

Developing digital literacy is important  because it supports young people to be confident and competent in their use of technology in a way that will enable them to develop their subject knowledge by encouraging their curiosity, supporting their creativity, giving them a critical framing for their emerging understandings and allowing them to make discerning use of the increasing number of digital resources available to them. p.10

Developing digital literacy in the classroom can allow students to apply their existing knowledge of creating with digital technology to learning in school and in the process be supported to think more critically and creatively about what it is they are doing. p.24

Fostering creativity in the classroom involves applying elements of creativity to subject knowledge. This can be done in all subjects across the school curriculum. p.25

This is an outstanding document that can be used as an information primer for helping schools develop a whole-school approach – particularly relevant in the current 1:1 laptop scenario in Australia.

E-teaching and motivation

Motivation is the theme of this video on learner-centered technology use. The American Psychological Association (1993) outlines four dimensions of learner-centeredness. Motivation is one of these four.This video, which is part of a larger project investigating learner-centered teaching with technology, highlights the need for motivation and engagement with technology. The use of the technology advertisements is designed to highlight the engagement produced by technology and media.Can education compete with that? If so how?

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Good intentions win the (Second Life) day!

I love our online technology world!!  This morning I was up and online at 6 am for the ISTE Webinar From Good Intentions to Best Practice: Teaching with Second Life in Middle School.  I was ready to listen to Peggy Sheehy (Maggie Marat) from Ramapo Island talk about her Second Life work – Peggy inspired the Aussie crowd at NECC, so i knew I would be hanging on her every word . The presentation was all about kids researching, building, discussing, creating, exploring and more, with teachers who are taking excellent pedagogy from their classrooms into a virtual world – in which students can extend their understanding and learning in many different subject areas.

Peggy reminded us that teacher preparation is vital. We need to Get Informed: read second life press and forums; read SL education wikis; and belong to SLED – the educator’s email listserve. We need Experience: get a SL account; tour popular places; visit educators spaces for collaboration and join groups; and start to learn to build simple objects. We need to Develop: identify a learning objective; build curriculum with appropriate space!

She explained that we are not looking for extra time in curriculum, but looking for opportunities to move existing curriculum into a space that will engage students in a more powerful way. We still need structure, feedback and quality assessment.  Second Life is an equaliser – reticent students blossom and converse and contribute. It’s the teacher strategies that count!  The skills learned carry right back into the real world classroom, and both students and parents are reporting profound benefits from having a learning environment that incorporates Second Life.

There was a great deal of superb information in this ISTE Webinar. Follow Peggy’s work Ramapo – Suffern Middle School in Second Life

See and download the full gallery on posterous

The thing about books and maps

Spent some time working with a couple of Year 8 geography classes today. The work we did – or rather they did – stood in marked contrast to the ‘understanding’ of some teachers and the role of books in the learning of kids these days. They want books – old and new. But the students? what do they want?

Without going into details, the students were working on a research task, in pairs, on a country that they had chosen.

(Yes, I know, that is not a good research task, but stay with me here …)

What struck me were these key points:

Students did not want to or need to use a print atlas.

    Mostly the students jumped onto Google Earth, and found their country and captured that image! Mostly they zoomed in on their country and checked out the terrain, and the cities, and the size of things. Sometimes they checked out the beaches, or how many people they could find. This was not what the teacher had in mind when she said ‘include a map of your country in your presentation’🙂 But it was the natural way for the boys to go check out a country.

    Every boy automatically went to Google images for their pics – because they can, and no-one has ever told them otherwise.

    Every boy automatically went to Wikipedia for their information – because they have never had any need to do it differently!

    So you can see, its a bit of a challenge. This is about covering material, not teaching students to think. It’s also about being out of touch with the way students learn in their online world.

    School subjects, taught in isolation, represent the worse of 19th & 20th  century education models transposed into a 21st century environment. The mechanics of teaching information skills are easy when its about creating a learning experience that requires use of every bit of thinking skill a student can muster. But in the context of the lessons today it was a waste of time.

    We can’t blame our curriculum or our students – we have to blame ourselves if our students are unskilled in using a full range of thinking skills to tackle issues straight out of the complex work in which they live.

    Photo: Globe