|Source: J.Stewart-Mitchell & G. Rodriguez|
Every day as teachers we focus on developing our students’ literacy as well as fluency, with the focus being on reading and speaking. As educators we devote a significant amount of every day focusing on improving reading levels, writing and overall language fluency. Reading fluency is about reading quickly and accurately, with natural expression and inflection, as well as appropriate pacing and the skills for decoding information. But what are we doing to improve digital literacy or digital fluency? How are we teaching students to be able to use digital tools naturally with ease, knowing the most effective time and place for using various programs or platforms? How are we providing opportunities so that students with digital fluency are able to navigate apps or programs with ease, and are able to identify the best tool to further their communication or understanding? Digital fluency is about understanding the basics of how to transition from platform to platform, having the skill set to be able to be able to navigate and share information and create. Just as in reading and writing, we need to aim to provide opportunities so that students can become fluent in their digital fluency, and go beyond mere, digital literacy. So how do we do this?
As teachers we also need to provide opportunities to create or capture representations of student understanding. Give opportunities at school to engage in creating original digital representations or even ethically remixed works of others. This means combining digital citizenship with creating. As educators we need to ask ourselves as to how often are we providing opportunities to do more than consume technology. If students are remixing new videos, creating memes and engaging in games such as Minecraft, how are we combining some of these afterschool passions with learning at school?
Michael Fullen states in “A Rich Seam – How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning”, “digital tools and resources have the potential to enable, expand and accelerate learning in ways previously unimaginable” (p. 30), but he also states that technology is not going to make any impact on learning if we do not go beyond tools that encourage repetition, like drill and practice or just as a vehicle for delivering teacher identified curricular content (p. 31). Fullen furthers this argument by stating that technology will not improve learning, until students are given opportunities to use it to deepen their learning (p. 32). In order to “deepen learning”, there needs to be authentic opportunities for students to collaborate and engage in creating knowledge. The question is, are we giving them opportunities to create knowledge and contribute this knowledge to the online community?
|Pillars of Digital Citizenship|
Source: Saskatchewan Digital Citizenship Continuum
EdTech guru, Vicki Davis states that she approaches digital citizenship in two ways, proactive knowledge and experiential knowledge. Experiential knowledge is giving students exposure to the essential skills or fluencies. Proactive skills is about teaching students how to be protect themselves and their identity online while sharing their voice. In an article, “5 Reasons You Should Be Teaching Digital citizenship”, author Paul Barnwell provides five reasons why schools need to take the lead in promoting digital citizenship and media literacies in curriculum, both in and outside the classroom. His reasons include:
- The gap is growing.
- Digital footprints are easy to leave
- It’s ‘real life’
- There is a culture of multitasking
- Content curation is an emerging literacy
After taking this course, I have come to the conclusion that there are tons of reasons for teaching media literacy and digital citizenship. The key is that the message needs to start at Pre-Kindergarten and continue on to grade 12. It’s not up to one teacher or one area to teach this information and skills, it’s up to everyone. In order for the message to sink in, we all need to sing from the same song sheet. There are definitely many convincing reasons as to why we need to teach Digital citizenship in schools, but the question is, how do we fit it all in?
So who is responsible for digital citizenship? Is it the kid who posts sexy photos of themselves in an online chat-room? Is it the parents who state that they are overwhelmed by this new emerging online world, yet purchase smartphones and set few boundaries on their use? Or is it the lack of education provided in school in how to be more mindful in our use of technology? The answer is, it is everyone’s responsibility. We all need to talk about it and communicate the same message. As stated earlier, it takes a village to raise a child. Today this reality is all the more apparent, as we all learn how to effectively navigate our way in this digital wilderness.