Digital Literacy… What? Why Me?

Digital Literacy [dij-i-tl lit-er-uh-see] verb; the act of adapting to technology beyond AppleWorks, Oregon Trail, and Number Munchers.

Apple Iic - 2014

So this is not the official definition of digital literacy, but when I was in school in 1989, if you knew those programs you were totally rad. You probably wore your jeans stuffed into layered socks too.

I have needed to adjust my knowledge of how technology works and how it fits into my daily life. Critically thinking about what one reads is not enough to be digitally literate. One needs to interact, to understand the information in context, and use technologies to problem solve. Communicate, create, and collaborate are key components to digital literacy, and our future students will be doing these things when they enter the workforce.

My.Future Announcement for Washington

Our schools teach reading and writing so that students are prepared for their future careers. However, students are not only using these skills on paper once they enter the workforce. They are utilizing technology, and need to use reading and writing in an effective manner in a digital workplace. This changes the way that teachers instruct. Critical thinking and problem solving skills must be learned, but with the additional purpose of using them in the realm of technology. They need to not simply know information, but how to find information. Students must learn to do this in a way that allows them to discern between fact and fiction.

Digital citizenship is also something students need to learn. They need to know how to interact in a responsible manner. This topic is extensive, covering health and wellness, safety, commerce, and more. For more information on digital citizenship see Nine Themes of Digital Citizenship, this article explains the subject with a far greater understanding than I have.

Recently, Marcus Wohlsen wrote an article on Wired.com about a discussion that took place between academics and representatives of technology corporations. It was brought up that some of those present believed that it was not enough to be digitally literate, but it was also necessary to be able to write code as well. It was proposed that high schools need to teach college level courses in this subject, so that students are literate in the language of coding.

Code on the Wall

I will be teaching elementary school, but if students need to learn the language of coding in high school, this will impact what I teach in my classroom. In order to have my students prepared, they need to be able to utilize technology effectively and exhibit digital citizenship at an earlier age than students are expected to do now.

I am a digital consumer, and have not been a contributor to the online world until now. This must change so that I am prepared to teach. I have to learn how to create. I must be a better participant and find a group of people online to learn from and collaborate with. To lead others into becoming digitally literate, I must first become digitally literate myself.

I have moved beyond using a green screen computer. It’s a start.

Photos CC: by Matt Mathoslan, Joseph Walsh, and Nat Welch.  Listed in order of appearance.

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7 thoughts on “Digital Literacy… What? Why Me?

  1. Sarah,
    Great start to this blog entry – it had me laughing out loud! You are so right on, and I’m right there with you. I’m not quite as archaic as my mother, and not as savvy as my son…somehow I got stuck in the transition generation. Now I’m the “used to be on the cutting edge, but now I’m a dinosaur” flavor of digital divas.

    My Mom: Why are the numbers blinking on my VCR?

    Me: Why is my computer going so slow?

    My Son: OMG [sigh]

    Well, now I’ll be teaching high school, and at this point, I’m hoping to have a teacher’s aide, because I’ve never used a Smart Board! I suppose there’s always room for learning, and I’m open to letting my students teach me new things, but I’m hoping these classes will help me move up in the digital age.

    Thanks for sharing Sarah! 🙂
    Vicky D

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    • Vicky,
      Thank you for your comment! My husband works in an office where he does all the tech related work, and he is also the youngest person there. I read your generations dialogue to him, and he looked at me and said, “This is my life. Every day.”

      I think that you will be just fine with a SmartBoard. If you can use Microsoft, you can figure out the SmartBoard software easily. They have done a fairly good job of making the program intuitive. You will do great!

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  2. I understand your technology frustrations! I think it’s difficult to make some changes, but, like you, I’m learning more about the technology of today even though it’ll be different next week! You went so in depth with your definition, and I feel smarter having read it. I agree that we need to teach children at younger ages how to respect and use technology to further their educations. My three year old found a function on my iPad that I didn’t even know about yesterday! They may be born with those abilities, but I think we have to learn to teach them properly, even though we’ll be learning something different within a year.

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    • Thanks! It is amazing how quickly technology does change. After reading others’ posts and continuing to think about this, I have come to the conclusion that what we teach kids about how they behave and interact with technology remains the same even when the technology changes. The principles of digital citizenship will continue to be relevant long after the technology we use with them has come and gone. Have fun with your little one! They are so curious at that age!

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  3. I graduated from high school in 1989 so your first sentence had me laughing. You make some really important points in this blog post. Most of us are really comfortable consuming information online and much less comfortable thinking about the ways we might share our learning and create things that others can consume and learn from. That’s what this course is all about. And a huge yes to everything you say about digital citizenship. Kids are using (and abusing) these spaces at earlier and earlier ages, and so many schools aren’t yet taking responsibility for teaching students about using these online spaces responsibly, ethically, appropriately.

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    • I think that schools overall do not know how to react. Some use forms of social media responsibly, but many block everything and the students are not taught responsibility. I wonder if teaching digital citizenship is viewed as one more thing that teachers have to do in a day already filled with things that must be done.

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  4. Pingback: Refining a PLN | Concept & Contemplation

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