Six months ago I began reading my daughter the Fancy Nancy series of books and very quickly she was demanding to be taught French (fellow Fancy Nancy readers will understand), but to do that I had to teach myself too. I now consider myself French literate. I can read it, I can speak it (albeit disjointedly and poorly pronounced), but I certainly do not consider myself FLUENT.
A similar differentiation should be made with regard to the digital competency of students today. It would be easy to assume that digital fluency exists on a large scale among our ‘digital native’ youth (Howell, 2012) but when dealing with an ever expanding and changing field like technology and when a disproportionate number of single parent and low income households lack internet access (Bentley, 2014) and when exposure and aptitude doesn’t necessarily translate to ability and fluency, we should take cue from Sinead Mac Manus, CEO and founder of Fluency, a London-based social enterprise, and “combining online and classroom learning…inspire a digital mindset in our students, giving them the tools to be curious about the digital space and continue their learning journey” (Mac Manus, 2013). We can do this by providing opportunities for access to various forms of digital technology, encouraging engagement, and monitoring and scaffolding learning, which requires professional development of teachers’ own digital fluency. This evaluation is echoed by Beth Holland when she suggests allowing students to take ownership of the learning process, create scaffolded challenges, and empower student leaders, as strategies to build digital fluency (Holland, 2013). In response to a hypothetical Digital Fluency curriculum subject, Gerald K White, for the Australian Council for Educational Research, suggests an effective collection of topics (White, 2013) for the purpose of addressing skills AND safety issues.
I found the following video resources good for further thought on digital fluency (dry but informative), digital literacy (I suggest watching on mute) and technology in education (I am officially addicted to TED/TEDx videos now).
Bentley, P. (2014). Lack of Affordable Broadband Creating ‘Digital Divide’. Retreived from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-02/bridging-the-digital-divide/5566644
Holland, B. (2013). Building Technology Fluency: Preparing Students to be Digital Learners. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/building-tech-fluency-digital-learners-beth-holland
Howell, J. (2012).Teaching With ICT. South Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.
Mac Manus, S. (2013). Getting Young People Fluent in Digital. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/social-enterprise-network/2013/aug/02/young-people-fluent-digital
White, G. K. (2013) Digital Fluency: Skills Necessary for Learning in the Digital Age. Retrieved from http://research.acer.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1006&context=digital_learning