Blogpost 2

Developing Digital Literacies

In today’s society people read as much online as they do from books. This increasing online activity highlights the need for those using it to develop and improve their digital literacies. Digital literacy has been described as “the ability to find, evaluate, utilize, share and create content using information technologies and the internet” (Cornell, 2009). There are five topics under the umbrella of digital literacy and these are: decoding, mean making, using, analysing and persona. This blog post will provide an overview of some aspects of the decoding topic and explain why is important to understand this element in the current society.

Decoding online information can be described as being able to both understand and produce texts (Hinrichsen & Coombs, 2014). This is especially important in terms of ‘learning’ in the current society as people need to become accustomed to the formats and conventions of technology (teach thought, 2014). For example, it is important that students can understand the texts that they are reading in order to be able to learn from them and develop their knowledge in general. However, in term of students producing texts themselves, there are various characteristics of decoding that could prove to be useful. Three of these are navigation (being able to scroll, use menus and buttons), operations (such as saving, printing and organising) and stylistics (colour, layout and illustration styles). The majority of older students (including myself) will be able to do most of these functions with ease as we have used technology all of our lives. Hence, it is important that children are taught, from a young age, the simple tasks of using a computer mouse, what buttons to use, and how to print as it will be vital for them to know this when they begin high school or University. For example, in primary school, my projects were handwritten with coloured pencils and drawings all over, however, since starting University all of my assignments have been online meaning I had to know how to correctly structure my essays with appropriate fonts and colours. Therefore, this highlights the importance of being able to decode online from an early age, meaning these skills can then be developed and help with preparation for future education.

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Figure 1: Joey and April working on their keyboarding skills.

In addition to using decoding in schools, it is also important to be aware of this element for work purposes. Due to most jobs being technology-related in the current society, staff need to be aware of these simple functions mentioned in the previous paragraph. This could be a problem for slightly older staff who have not grown up around digital media and who are rather new to these concepts, meaning they may not pick it up as easily. These staff may not even be aware how to print things or how to save things and may need coaching on these aspects, as well as others. This can cause a barrier for older people getting a job as they may be less-educated in the technology world, like the digital immigrants discussed in my previous blog post (Boyle, n.d.). One example of using decoding is in my job where we use spreadsheets to keep up-to-date with market trends. My manager – who is slightly older – has to know how to save and print these documents as well as understand them. This again emphasises the importance of children being taught these things from a young age so when they begin future education or jobs, they are prepared and don’t have to be taught from scratch.

Overall, it is very important for digital literacies to be developed in the current society in order to aid people’s learning as well as to improve their performance in their job or to help them to get a job. Decoding is just one of the five resources of digital literacy and I have just touched on the elements within the topic in this blog. There is more to learn about decoding and the other four resources in this article – http://www.researchinlearningtechnology.net/index.php/rlt/article/view/21334

References

Boyle, L. (n.d.). Digital Literacy: Global Standards in the Workforce. Retrieved from http://www.coabe.org/html/pdf/Digital%20Literacy%20Presentation.pdf

Cornell University. (2009). Digital Literacy Is. Retrieved from http://digitalliteracy.cornell.edu/

Hinrichsen, J., & Coombs, A. (2014). The five resources of critical digital literacy: a framework for curriculum integration. Research in Learning Technology, 21(0).

Surran, M. (2001). Joey and April working on their keyboarding skills. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/extraketchup/749317332/

Teach Thought. (2014). 5 Dimensions of Critical Digital Literacy: A Framework. Retrieved from http://www.teachthought.com/literacy-2/5-dimensions-of-critical-digital-literacy/

Blogpost 1

The Importance of being ‘Digitally Savvy’

Technology is all around us, everywhere. The first thing I do when I wake up is check my Facebook to see what I’ve missed when I was sleeping (usually nothing) and then buy my train ticket using the fancy, new machines at the station. Prensky (2001, p.1) claims that technology has changed the world in an extreme way meaning there is no turning back. No turning back to the ‘old-fashioned’ ways of sending letters instead of emails or phoning someone instead of texting, just like my grandparents would. It has been suggested that students, today, are actually different from their ancestors in the way in which they think and analyse information. These students have been given the name ‘digital natives’ – such as myself – as we have been brought up around technology and use it to communicate in our everyday lives. This transition is so huge that it is increasingly important that everyone should be, or learn to be digitally literate in order to keep up with the modern world.

One group of people who are especially important in this shift are teachers. It is important for teachers to be ‘digitally savvy’ in order to grasp the attention of their students, who are no longer interested in just reading from books. Students these days are used to finding information quickly and are used to doing many things at once, something which is hard to accomplish without technology (Prensky, 2001, p.2). For example, if I wanted to find out who was the richest person in the UK, I’m not going to waste an hour looking for a book in the library relevant to the topic, I would search it up on Google, taking me no more than 30 seconds to find. However, there are some people known as ‘digital immigrants’ – such as my grandparents – who do not understand and do not want to learn the ropes of technology. This can be a problem when it comes to ‘digital immigrant educationalists’ who do not believe students can learn through technology and think that some aspects of technology are a waste of time (Zur & Zur, 2011). These professionals are being urged to change their outlook if they want to effectively teach their students (and stop them from falling asleep in class) because there is no going back to old teaching ways.

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Figure 1: Computers in the classroom.

Technology is now being used in almost every job out there, again stressing the importance of being digitally literate. Most professions now rely on technology for processes such as recording data or analysing current trends (Weebly, n.d.). For example, when I was interviewed for my job, I had to prove that I could successfully send an email and was also shown how to use the software to look up statistics – which was confusing, even for a digital native. To accommodate this, many schools have now integrated opportunities for enhancing digital literacy skills into their curriculum in order to meet ability levels for future jobs – another reason why it’s important for teachers to be digitally educated (BCS, 2014). This is significant as 81% of employers view digital skills as an essential ability to have as it improves employee expertise and will benefit the companies’ productions (BCS, 2014).

These are just a few of the many reasons to enhance your technology skills in today’s society in order to keep up with the transitions occurring in the world. There is no turning back.

 

References:

Graham87. (2014). Computers in the classroom. Retrieved from http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computers_in_the_classroom

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants Part 1. Lincoln:MCB University Press.

The Chartered Institute for IT. (2014). Digital Literacy and Education. Retrieved from http://www.bcs.org/category/17855

The Chartered Institute for IT. (2014). Digital Literacy and Employability. Retrieved from http://www.bcs.org/category/17854

Weebly. (n.d.). Why is Digital Literacy Important? Retrieved from http://purposefultechnology.weebly.com/why-is-digital-literacy-important.html

Zur, O. & Zur, A. (2011). On Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives: How the Digital Divide Affects Families, Educational Institutions, and the Workplace. Retrieved from http://www.zurinstitute.com/digital_divide.html

About Me

Hello, my name is Jade. I am currently in my second year at university studying Primary Education in order to become a teacher, which has always been my number one career choice.

As part of the course we had to select two other classes to run alongside our main course. One of my elective classes I have chosen is ‘Living, Learning and Working in the context of the Digital Economy’. I selected this class as I believe it will be beneficial for my course due to the volume of technology being used as a teaching method in today’s society. I also feel it is important to be engaged with and understand technology to a certain extent in order to relate to the children I will hopefully be teaching in a few years time.