Digital Literacy: Still Dealing with the Haves and the HaveNots

What is… digital literacy?

Digital Literacy is the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills. – See more at: http://connect.ala.org/node/181197

 

Sitting at lunch one day, the discussion wandered to how our students are embracing technology in the classroom as we’ve been using GAFE more and more each week.  One teacher, sponsor of the middle school academic team, commented on how students on her team that are part of our community of students appear to be so much further ahead of students from other communities in their understanding of technology and desire to explore what they can do with it.

If someone doesn’t know how to use Docs or how to set up a Slides file, our kids jump right in and help them get things going. Our kids are so comfortable with what we’ve taught them this year.

I hadn’t noticed until she said it.  This week, as I wandered around the room helping my 2nd period class work on Task #1 in the weather project, people were calling my name to come help them, and other students stepped up and showed them what to do.

I got it, Mrs. Stone. I’ll help her.

I considered this as I dispelled the myth of “Wikipedia is poison” for my students.  By the time I was finished showing them around the site and explaining how they can start any research search there and move on to even bigger, better learning, it all made sense to me.  Our kids are becoming more digitally literate.

I guess, because I’ve been such a cheerleader for educational technology, have always used it in some capacity or another in my classroom, have encouraged my team to use technology and in turn, they have pushed to get carts of laptops for their classes, our kids ARE ahead of most others kids in the building. As students are exposed to technology and teachers learn how to use technology to transform their teaching, our students become more career ready and prepared to take on the world. Its a beautiful thing, students in a school that’s slowly moving toward a 1:1 technology rich learning environment. Learning how to use the technology, teaching each other the technology, flowing along with the teachers as they learn the technology.

But what about those students who still don’t have access to the technology or whose access is sketchy, and whose teachers aren’t connected and learning how to move beyond the prescriptive software?  How does a school recognize there’s more to it all than “being a school with technology” and become “a technology rich school”?

Start the process of transformation with the teachers.  When does professional development embed technology and not the other way around?  We all know how to read the data, find the resources, make it happen, sorta, but in the buildings where technology is just emerging, do the teachers know how to collaborate with each other and reach out and connect outside the building or district and learn from the world?

I have friends what work in charter schools and a few in private schools.  When I go to e-learning events, they’re never there.  Many of them have asked me how do they connect with other teachers, how do they learn to use technology?  Good question. So I ask myself, how can I help those “havenot”  teachers out there who want to make sure their students are career ready?  How do any of us help each other?

Ok, I’ve asked a lot of questions there. There are answers for them all.  One step at a time, remembering the goal is providing an environment where our students are able to critically think, communicate and thrive in the technology rich world they have inherited from us.

 

 

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