Monthly Archives: April 2016

Digital Fluency

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).

References:

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

Participation and the Digital Divide

Technology is an important part of the education system, integrated to enhance learning opportunities and experiences, to equip students for the increasingly digital world they are already a part of and to prepare students for future employment in the increasingly technology reliant career market. For this reason it is necessary for teachers to become knowledgeable and capable with digital resources. The responsibility placed on teachers and schools to meet digital expectancy and bridge the digital divide is becoming greater. While recent studies about internet access/usage in Australia look positive, the conundrum of bridging the digital divide is that though fewer Australian’s are ‘offline’, the adjustment of the curriculum and job skills requirements to match a growing digitally fluent society, and living in the digital world in general, means that those left behind are even more disadvantaged. (Ewing, 2016)

With socio-economic status being a significant contributor to the digital divide, and the greatest effect on student proficiency rates in the use of technology (Howell, 2012), solving this issue of the digital divide could seem daunting at best, or even impossible. The education system has a great responsibility to ensure the inequality of access, participation and proficiency in Australian homes does not significantly disadvantage a student from achieving a high level of proficiency with digital technology. A search on the Teachers TV online video library at www.teacherstv.com.au gives a glimpse of how technology is being effectively integrated into the classroom for a variety of subjects, not just those directly related to technology, and when 1.3 million Australian households are without internet access (“Household Use of Information Technology, Australia, 2014-15”, 2016), the implementation of technology resources in schools is very important. And the need for teachers to recognize when a student is at a digital disadvantage and make efforts to compensate for that, is integral to that student not slipping into the proverbial digital divide.

For a little clip that helped make using technology in the classroom seem less daunting for me, watch this video.

References:

Ewing, S. (2016). Australia’s digital divide is narrowing, but getting deeper. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/australias-digital-divide-is-narrowing-but-getting-deeper-55232

Household Use of Information Technology, Australia, 2014-15. (2016)Retrieved from http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/ProductsbyReleaseDate/ACC2D18CC958BC7BCA2568A9001393AE?OpenDocument

Howell, J. (2012).Teaching With ICT. South Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.

Being a Digital Curator

When I moved to my current home 3 years ago I had absolutely no possessions; no clothes; no furniture. Thankfully a lovely local lady put a callout over Facebook for donations of such things for my daughter and I and the community very generously provided us with a vast collection of pre-loved household goods, including one sturdy old wooden filing cabinet. While not devoid of gratitude I marveled at how something that was once a staple in the home of most white-collar workers or anyone who desired to store large quantities of records in an orderly manner is now, thanks to computers and various online storage capabilities, is now effectively redundant. Most formerly paper-bound correspondence and records are now received and stored digitally. For this reason pretty much anyone who maintains an online presence for collating or sharing materials could be considered a digital curator.

The benefits of collating resources and records, such as media, photographs, online is undeniable. Having an entire collections of works available instantly for the purpose of research, education, social connect, entertainment, news media, etc. without concern for storage capacity is one of the great perks of living in our digital world, but this convenience should not be without caution. Nothing online is invulnerable to access and use by some it perhaps was not intended for. Lessons learned from the infamous and crudely named (here unnamed) iCloud hack of 2014 aside, being a digital curator can still be a positive, enriching experience. Leanne Johnson (2013) sings praise for capable digital curators and Flintoff, Mellow and Pickett Clark put it quite succinctly when they state “Curators can be thought leaders and change agents with their insightful selection of artifacts” (Flintoff, Mellow, & Pickett Clark, 2014). These sentiments are in the context of online resource collation and as my studies in education progress I find myself exposed to an array of tools for the digital curator for the purpose of presentation of coursework that I had no idea existed. I am excited to use these tools in my teaching career as teaching resources as well as presentation tools for my students.

Here is a fantastically helpful video for teachers who want to learn about, use and enjoy digital curation as a professional practice.

References:

Flintoff, K., Mellow, P., & Pickett Clark, K. (2014). Digital Curation: Opportunities for Learning, Teaching, Research and Professional Development. Retrieved from http://ctl.curtin.edu.au/events/conferences/tlf/tlf2014/refereed/flintoff.html

Johnson, L. (2013). Why Scoopit Is Becoming An Indespensible Learning Tool. Retrieved from http://www.teachthought.com/the-future-of-learning/trends-shifts/why-scoopit-is-becoming-an-indispensable-learning-tool/

Evaluation Matrix 1 – Pinterest

 

Name of teaching resource

‘Pinterest’ collection of boards about endangered animals

 

Weblink (if web based)

https://au.pinterest.com/egermaine7115/

 

Who should this digital teaching resource be used with? (ie year/grade)

This is aimed at grade 4

 

How should it be used? (e.g. individual, whole class)

When introducing a research project to the class, this Pinterest collection of boards is used to provide a starting block for the student’s research. Rather than asking the students to just ‘google it’, the pages provided are collections of images, information and links to further information.

 

Which subject or learning area would it be most appropriate to use in?

Science

 

Identify the strengths of this teaching resource

The pinned pages have been vetted to ensure their information is both extensive and accurate and, where possible, homepages are pinned so students are still required to do a little ‘digging’ for their information. Additional boards can be generated quickly using the toolbar plug-in option on your browser.

 

Identify any weaknesses of this teaching resource

As it currently stands, the boards are limited to Tasmanian Devils, Giant Pandas, Orangutans, Whales, Sea turtles and Rhinos. While a resources board can be generated by the teacher within a few minutes, that would rely on a student choosing a different animal and informing the teacher promptly. If the resource boards are too extensive students may not do any additional research to fill in the gaps.

 

Explain any ideas you may have for further use of this teaching resource

Further boards can be added to encompass more animals and pins can be added to boards for more specific information if the project in question is aimed at a higher grade level.

 

 

Evaluation Matrix 2 – Prezi

 

Name of teaching resource

‘Prezi’ presentation titled “Journal Entry: School Holidays”

 

Weblink (if web based)

http://prezi.com/yoz_yyyj64pm/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy&rc=ex0share

 

Who should this digital teaching resource be used with? (ie year/grade)

Designed to suit grade 1 or 2. The instruction used in conjunction with this teaching resource could increase expected detail and put greater emphasis on writing structure, punctuation, etc

 

How should it be used? (e.g. individual, whole class)

The Prezi presentation can be shown to the class as a whole in accompaniment with instructions to write a journal entry upon returning to school after school holidays, about an activity they did while on holidays.

 

Which subject or learning area would it be most appropriate to use in?

English. Though The Arts could also be included by asking students to create an accompanying illustration.

 

Identify the strengths of this teaching resource

The task of thinking about writing is given before actual writing occurs and it advises students to proofread their writing to check where their writing may need correction/improvement. The examples given are kept simple, to be inclusive. The main slide can be left up to assist students who need prompting as they write.

 

 

Identify any weaknesses of this teaching resource

Basic and does not include specific instructions for assistance with grammar, spelling, etc.

 

 

Explain any ideas you may have for further use of this teaching resource

It could be adjusted for use with a different grade or about a different topic or zoom points could be added to encourage students to go into greater details.