Digital Literacy Day 2015
By Anne Johnson-Oliss
Digital literacy has many widely accepted definitions. The skillset includes using digital technologies, accessing communications and digital tools, evaluating information, and producing materials in various formats. In 2015, digital literacy is an essential component of both education and life beyond the classroom. To those in our field, this brings about a fundamental question: Is digital literacy a process or a product?
Digital literacy is more than having the technological tools to get online. Sure, having computers, tablets and interactive whiteboards is a great start! But after acquisition of the tools, digital literacy means that users know how to put information into the devices, as well as receive information from them. So how do we help students develop digital literacy in tandem with the lessons we teach daily?
Here are some ideas to help education professionals infuse digital literacy tactics and concepts into everyday learning:
Ideas for Using Digital Equipment:
-Use the tools you have available. Don’t be afraid to turn on the whiteboards, tablets, and computers. Everyone needs a little help sometimes. Shared knowledge of resources and problem-solving strategies makes each of us better professionals.
-Sign up for your turn. If your facility has tools you can access, like tablet collections or laptop carts, work those into your plans routinely. Don’t allow your turn to pass without using the tools.
-Enlist peer helpers. Identify some peer students who are proficient with technology and ask for their help.
-Charge and maintain equipment if at all possible. Trying to teach a lesson with faulty tools will only create frustration for students and staff.
Ideas for Infusing Digital Literacy and Digital Citizenship:
-Define and state the purpose for using digital tools in the classroom the same way that we talk about writing or math tools.
-Employ Universal Design for Learning (UDL) strategies throughout instruction.
-Teach the shared symbol system indigenous to digital tools, e.g., save button, print icon, pan tool, or magnifier, to name a few.
-Include digital tools and experiences when discussing manners, bullying, friendship, and communication.
-Teach citizenship online and offline as prosocial behaviors usually translate in everyday and digital spaces.
-Use technology while teaching students so they can pair actions with language. During Unique Learning System curriculum lessons or News-2-You work, describe what you are doing with the technology.
-Include language about mistakes you make using technology. Consider a script to use when mistakes are made and corrected. Some script examples are listed below, however always be sure to modify to grade level and subject area.
For a website or window: “Uh, oh. I touched the wrong button. I just have to exit that by touching the x.”
For answering drag and drop questions: “Oops. I dragged the wrong answer. I will just drag the one I wanted.”
For answering multiple choice questions: “Oh no. I selected the wrong one. That’s not what I wanted. I just need to select the one I wanted.”
Ideas for n2y Products and Digital Literacy:
-Search SymbolStix ONLINE for images to introduce new vocabulary and skills into the classroom. Search for tablet, swipe, scroll, left, right, mouse, Internet, and more.
-Share n2y eXtras pages with parents to help reinforce symbol use and technology skills on home equipment. For classroom use, look for the communication board called, Let’s Type an Email in Communication/Behavior or the certificate for tablet users in Fun Stuff.
-Pair actions and language when navigating the News-2-You newspapers or Breaking News stories. Tell students what you are doing. Show them and tell them which tools you are using to read the articles. Help students understand which tools perform operations on the site.
-Encourage critical thinking and evaluation of news stories. Ask what students think about stories. Help them find more information to investigate further by following the video links at the bottom of the news story pages.
-Orient students to Unique Learning System (ULS) materials online by showing them that some vocabulary remains the same from a paper book with pages to a digital book.
For orienting students to n2y Library books or ULS leveled books, consider “Let’s read the title," or “Turn the page,” or even “The end”.
- Help students make connections between print books and digital books by using similar strategies. Employ the same techniques for ULS books online as you might for print. Try to walk through a story before reading it. Consider guessing what the story might be about prior to turning a page. Point to illustrations or symbols as possible clues to the content.
Teaching digital literacy requires professionals to have similar learning opportunities to enhance their skills. Using digital tools and virtual interaction for professional development can only serve to better advise instruction with and for students.
Ideas for n2y Training Opportunities:
-Click the video links on most pages of n2y.com for on-the-spot training.
-Check out our free webinar schedule for times that work with your schedule.
-n2y.com’s training pages have free training materials available at any time and on any schedule. Stop and start as many times as you like in order to digest the materials at your own pace.
-Consider face-to-face training with our professional trainers. On-site, on your equipment, on your schedule, our training staff will come to you. n2y trainers have assisted thousands of educators infuse technology into their daily practices.
Digital literacy has a social component. In fact, “…acts of literacy are always embedded in social practices of communication, in which members of a community seek to construct particular identities, relationships, or valued activities and objects.” (Myers, 2006.) All of us use digital tools to physically navigate our homes, neighborhoods, and societies, but also to socially navigate relationships, jobs, and all forms of communication. Digital skillsets are essential learning for all students.
So is digital literacy a process or a product? Is it both? Digital technologies are not isolated tools. They are embedded in the process of everyday life. Is there a new set of skills with each new piece of equipment or application? Probably not, but over time, each of us will develop a set of competencies that transfer among digital tools wherever we find them. Proficiency with digital tools as an outcome might be called digital literacy.
For more information about News-2-You, Unique Learning System, SymbolStix or n2y Training, visit us at n2y.com or give us a call. We like to talk. 800.697.6575.
Find us on Twitter and Instagram @n2yinc. Facebook users can join in the fun with n2y and SymbolStix pages.
Myers, J. (2006). Literacy Practices and Digital Literacies: A Commentary on Swenson, Rozema, Young, McGrail, and Whitin. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 6(1), 61-66. Retrieved March 10, 2015, from http://www.editlib.org/
Saljo, R. (2012). Literacy, Digital Literacy and Epistemic Practices: The Co-Evolution of Hybrid Minds and External Memory Systems. Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy, 7(NR 01), 5-19. Retrieved March 10, 2015, from https://www.idunn.no