Are You Digitally Literate?

Everything in this world is now digitalised. E-mails have replaced letters, the cloud has replaced filing cabinets and my phone is my notebook, my calendar and my calculator! It is absolutely vital that children are in tune with this new and exciting digital age and therefore teachers also need to develop ‘digital wisdom’. Moira Savage and Anthony Barnett, authors of our book ‘Digital Literacy for Primary Teachers’ have prepared an exclusive entry about the importance of digital literacy in primary education. Why not have a quick read in your lunchbreak!?

Dig Lit cover

Digital wisdom, fluency, capability or literacy? You will likely encounter a range of terms used in discussions and reading about the topic, that it can appear baffling. However, what is more important are the definitions given for these words and here the consensus begins to bring us towards a shared understanding of what we are discussing.

Is digital literacy more than a list of technical competencies to train teachers and children in? We would argue strongly that it is much, much more! It is a way of being and acting in our modern digital world. Firstly, should we be discussing digital literacy or literacies? Is the interpretation of digital literacy static or evolving; is it context specific? Are certain values, attitudes and dispositions involved? Are we talking about activities that only involve consuming digital content or those where we produce and create digital content? Belshaw, (2013) states that ‘digital literacies are plural, subjective and highly context dependent’.

Digital Literacy is directly referred to in the National Curriculum for Computing in England for key stages 1 to 4. The purpose is detailed as:

Computing also ensures that pupils become digitally literate – able to use, and express themselves and develop their ideas through, information and communication technology – at a level suitable for the future workplace and as active participants in a digital world” (DfE 2013).

‘Digital Literacy for Primary Teachers’ gives a comprehensive and practical overview of what this means for today’s teachers and learners. Readers are encouraged to reflect on their own digital literacy in order to enhance their professional teaching practice. Major topics and themes are explored in a practical way to provide ideas to support teaching and learning founded on established pedagogic principles. National curriculum links and Teachers’ Standards are identified and readers are challenged by critical questions as well as being offered suggestions for further reading and useful resources.

Chapter maps provide a visual overview of topics covered in each chapter. Highlights from the chapter on digital teaching include extensions to Shulman’s model of teacher knowledge to incorporate a focus on digital technology and a focus on digital technology tools. Affordances of technology are explained so that teachers can start to think about to make the most of digital technology when teaching. The chapter on digital learning considers theoretical models related to multimodal learning, memory and motivation. Well known sources are referred in the context of digital literacy e.g. Moreno & Meyer’s model of the memory; Dweck’s concepts of performance and learning goals; and Malone and Lepper’s taxonomy of intrinsic motivations. Information literacy is often associated with digital literacy and this important theme is explored in detail with a particular focus on search techniques and approaches for critically evaluating information.

Managing file formats is also considered including ideas for pupil activities. The affordances of a networked world include new possibilities for collaboration and communication. Examples are provided of teachers and learners using web 2.0 tools such as wikis, blogs and podcasting. The book also includes a chapter exploring the various dimensions of digital citizenship including netiquette, digital commerce, data protection and security, copyright and digital access.

Throughout the book readers are prompted to reflect further by case studies and are able to consolidate their developing knowledge by referring to the summaries of critical points at the end of each chapter. Two chapters towards the end of the book directly address the areas that often worry teachers the most; ‘digital identity and footprints of teachers’ and the complementary ‘e-safety and digital safeguarding’ of children. These chapters reflect best practice in the sector, avoid alarmist claims and offer sensible and practical steps to make the most of the exciting networked world that we live in. For both teachers and children the emphasis is on empowerment through education to inform personal and collective decisions relating to online action and real-world consequences.

An extremely topical book with some exciting tips and advice, for more information please see our website.

One thought on “Are You Digitally Literate?

  1. Pingback: Are You Digitally Literate? | The learning conversation

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