Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Nature of Digital Literacy

This course has been useful in developing my own personal tool literacy in a couple of different ways. For the last two years I have asked my students to make movies for various presentations in several different classes but I have not made one myself. I think that making myself go through the same process that they did/will do is an important part of understanding exactly what the assignment entails (in terms of skills needed, time commitment, and communication of knowledge).
I have also not made a professional blog before. While starting a blog did not challenge me technically, I possessed the digital skills to make the blog before I started this course. My tool literacy was improved though the act of making the blog. I have been thinking about starting a blog to provide a forum for me to think and write through teaching issues and provide a forum for professional dialogue. Now that I have created the site I am committed to using it. Hopefully, I will be able to continue these postings. As I proceed through this degree I have noticed the benefit I obtain from having thought about something enough to put it to words (in the form of a forum or blog post) and the benefit from the professional dialogue that results (one of the benefits is that I enjoy it).
My big takeaways from the course involve the multifaceted nature of literacy and the critical thought needed to be literate. At a previous school we attempted to define literacy. Obviously, this was a difficult task but one that allowed me to think about all of the different ways to be literate. I volunteered to be on the committee writing the definition with the sole purpose of making sure that scientific literacy was represented. Admittedly, this was somewhat narrow minded of me as there was scientific literacy and so much more to include in the definition. After this course I see that while we tried to make the definition as inclusive as possible we still forgot some aspects of literacy and I am reminded how interrelated all of the various forms of literacy are. When listening to all of my classmates’ presentations there seemed to be great commonality between them. Whether it is nature or numbers being literate involves reaching a proficiency in interpreting, understanding and communicating.
Critical thinking plays a large part in digital literacy. Whether the critical thought is in the form of interpreting a message and deciding upon it context or in having the foresight to understand that things posted to the Internet have a permanent and very public presence and should be carefully considered. This idea is something that I am going to try to share with my students next year. I do not know exactly how this will happen or what I will do to stimulate my students’ thoughts on this topic but I think that it is something that they should spend some time considering. (If you have any ideas please let me know).

Finally, the development of students’ digital literacy (technological skills and critical thought) is important if they are going to continue to use digital tools and to function in an increasingly technological society. Also I want them to be aware of the increasing divide that exists between the haves and the have-nots. The digital divide is widening in North America and is even worse on a world scale. The discrepancy between technology access in the first world and third world countries is immense. I also want students to recognize their fortune in being a have and the social responsibility that comes with this position.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Twitter - The online flea market

At Christmas time I bought an iPhone, time for me to become a tech geek. In February I attended a workshop that was about using Twitter for professional development. The presenter assured me that it would be a good thing. I signed up for an account and started following a couple of people. Then nothing. It was just another thing and I didn’t have time.

Emails from people telling me how great Chris Hatfield’s pictures from space appeared in my inbox. After seeing some of these pictures and watching some videos of life in the ISS I was energized. I thought Twitter could be an excellent educational tool. If it allowed Chris Hatfield to meet the public where they lived and educate people about science and life in space, it could do the same for me. I went to check my account. (Note: I did not follow Chris Hatfield, instead I accessed the videos from YouTube and the Canadian Space Agency website, I found it easier).

What did I find?

Soooooo many links, sooooo much stuff, but not a lot of substance. Everyone is sharing everything, which is great, but no one seems to be thinking deeply about it. In The Flight from Conversation Turkle talks about the disconnectedness of ‘being connected’ I think this extends to the use of Twitter for professional development as well. There is information being shared but it is disconnected, there is no dialogue. “Check this out” is not the same as expressing thoughtful consideration on a topic.

There are good finds in this mix of stuff but finding the genuine antiques from the bulk barn junk takes time. Time I don’t have, the volume of posts is too overwhelming. Now I skim and only when I feel I have some time. More and more I am becoming convinced that no one is really reading anything anymore.

My questions for the world are (and I challenge you to convince me of in 140 characters or less):
Is being able to tweet/connected in this way an important part of literacy? If this information can be accessed through other means why is tweeting so important?
Twitter discourages real thought and connection. It is too difficult to express thoughts on an article in 140 characters. Not deep thought. Not analysis. Not the kind of thought that builds a conversation. Would it be better to go back to the ‘old’ way of writing your thoughts with a link on a blog post?

References

Turkle, S. (2012). The Flight From Conversation. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/opinion/sunday/the-flight-from-conversation.html?_r=0


Monday, June 3, 2013

Digital literacy is here to stay but will it be too much of a good thing?

I first started to think about digital literacy after attending a one-to-one conference this fall. Ian Jukes was one of the keynote speakers, and was presenting on what he called 21st century fluencies. (http://fluency21.com/).

These fluencies are digital literacies. While I was listening to the presentation I couldn’t stop thinking that some fluencies were skill based and some about critical thinking. The development of critical thinking has been something we have been trying to do at my school so I was quite interested. Is the big attraction of technology the possibility of linking content and critical thinking?

The keynote presenter then next day was Jeff Utecht (http://www.thethinkingstick.com/). In his presentation he gave us tasks to complete where we were actively searching for information (content) in order to solve problems (critical thinking), an excellent model for integrating technology and stimulating thought. Thus, I learned that in the right context it is possible to integrate critical thinking and digital literacies through the use of technology.

The conference was significant for me because it was the first time I had really stopped to think about what digital literacy might mean for me in the classroom. I must admit that I am still struggling to figure out how to make it all work. But, I have experienced the positive benefits of a well-designed and executed lesson and been encouraged to try some new things. Clearly technology is here to stay and is impacting the way I am planning lessons.

But is it possible to have too much of a good thing?

In The technology mistake: Confusing access to information with being educated Cuban (2012) attempts to address some of the issues surrounding why all of this information has not significantly changed education. Maybe the ultimate reason is because people have forgotten the non-technological aspects of school. “(S)chools have been and are social, political, and moral institutions whose job is to help children and youth acquire multiple literacies” (Cuban, 2012). There is much to be done in school that has very little to do with a greater access to information.

Cuban lists the cyber high school as one of the ways technologies are changing education. I acknowledge that taking a class (or two) in order to supplement the regular classes or in order to meet some requirements that cannot normally be met at the physical school one great benefit of online education. But, given the important role that schools play in moral and social education should a student be allowed to take an entire high school degree online, thus missing out on the social and moral literacies, and face-to-face interaction?

References

Cuban, L. (2012). The technology mistake: Confusing access to information with being educated. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/the-technology-mistake-confusing-access-to-information-with-becoming-educated/2012/06/17/gJQAt8PFkV_blog.html


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Edtechucation

Welcome to my blog,

I hope to host some interesting discussions revolving around education and technology. My goal is to develop professional dialogue in order to improve my own personal edtechucation.