What Does It Take to Make Students Digitally Literate?
The world is going through a major transformation as technology has presented us with a great opportunity to share knowledge and information. But, the benefits can only be realized if people are empowered with the skills to access and use this connected environment in the right way.
As these technological advancements will evolve at an exponential rate, it is essential to equip the next generation with the digital knowhow to make the most of this rapidly evolving world.
At first glance, it would seem like schools are embracing this. Technology is completely transforming the learning experience as classrooms have seen the proliferation of mobile devices and educational applications. Smart devices such as Interactive Whiteboards, Apple TVs, and eReaders have become the go-to tools for teachers, and an increasing number of students are using mobile devices to aid their learning.
For example, Tablets for Schools, an education technology charity based in the UK, found that as of December, 70 percent of primary and secondary schools in the UK now use tablet computers, while reports suggest as many as 66 percent of US elementary school students do.
While the classroom has become increasingly digital, this has not necessarily led to a growth in digital literacy.
A distinction between the two needs to be made.
What’s holding back schools today?
The New York Department of Education, for example, defines digital literacy as “having the knowledge and ability to use a range of technology tools for varied purposes.” It’s not just about students owning a shiny new tablet; it’s about giving students the skills they need to use it in the best way possible to make a difference.
This can be achieved in the following ways:
- Listen to students: To see the best results, teachers need to work with students to better understand the ways in which they like to learn and the devices they prefer. By taking feedback into account, schools can improve their strategies, increasing the digital literacy of their students
- Update the curriculum: We’ve recently started to see a shift in this balance as schools have begun to take notice of the lack of digital literacy and have made strides towards addressing it. The last academic year in the UK saw students embark on a new computing curriculum, which aimed to give children in primary and secondary schools the skills to design and write computer programmes for example. This is still in its infancy however, and schools need to continue to adapt their curriculums
- Connect your classes: Improving this is a step in the right direction, but it is only one part of the solution as students need to be empowered with improved connectivity. By combining new courses with greater access to the internet, students can learn the skills they need to take advantage of new technologies
The classroom, like the world as a whole, is changing dramatically and students need the technical skills to make the most of it. Teachers and schools can empower their pupils by taking their feedback into account, making the curriculum more digital and improving connectivity in the classroom. Only then will students become truly digitally literate.