Digital Literacy, or is it?


Digital literacy is fast becoming a key ingredient to a child’s education.  Not by any means the most important but definitely a necessity to help them in the ever developing digital world.  It is no longer good enough that a child can use word or powerpoint, it simply isn’t that relevant anymore.

So what is being done to meet the needs of the child?

Well there appears to be a few different avenues that are being taken by schools and leaders.   One of which seems to be to allow creativity, to explore new opportunities and make digital literacy part of the school environment.  By encouraging the use of technology in lessons you provide students with the opportunity to try things out, to make choices, to work in collaboration and to have some independence in their work.  Through the use of existing PCs, newly purchased iPad devices or even BYOD solutions, students can now see the variety of ways that work can be developed, created and shared.  This to me creates a digitally literate child.

Unfortunately for all the opportunities that this provides students their are other ways of looking at providing digital literacy that don’t quite fit the purpose.  There seems to be a growing trend to find a single solution.  A one size fits all platform that can do everything for a school.  This tends to be sought after when those in charge have not much experience around new technologies or with teachers that lack confidence.  The solution therefore is to being in something that can do all of the things that the creative teacher would so with a variety of tools.

The problem for me is though that this does not make for a literate child.

For example

If I was to improve a child’s literacy I could get them to read a book.  Once they master reading that book does that make them literate?  Do they keep reading the same book over and over again to develop their skills?  Or do they read from a variety of sources?

If I wanted to make a child physical literate do  I simply teach them rugby?  Do they learn everything by simply doing just one sport? Or would I provide children with a range of opportunities to develop skills and a deeper understanding?

So when it comes to digital literacy the best solution is to provide a range of opportunities to children.  It is not a case of having a single programme or device to do a job.  When students leave school those programmes may not exist, in many cases they definitely wont if they were designed for schools.  What needs to happen is provide tools for students, much in the same way we do now giving paper, pens, rulers etc.  You then choose the right tool for the job, the one that helps you achieve your goal.  I don’t ask students to play football and rugby and badminton but only give them a javelin to use.

When you look at what options you have in a school look at providing students with a set of digital tools that enable them to get the best results, not the easiest option for teachers to tick a box to say it is done.

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