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Transcript of Digital Literacies
They do not examine the plurality of digital literacies, as they do not account for the idea that digital literacies can be placed into a sociocultural perspective (Lankshear and Knobel, 2008 p,2.). In contemporary society digital literacies do not simply entail the ability to evaluate digital information; due to technological advances they also include the manner in which we now engage with new emerging platforms of digital literacies in a social context.
The fact that technology is infiltrating everyday life and has numerous forms is not the only reasoning behind these calls for the integration with educational settings, it is also important to consider that technology has the potential to enhance the learning process in general. The Department for Education, (2011 pp. 2) notes how two of the largest studies in the UK that look at the relationship between ICT and attainment (ImpaCT study and the Test bed project) have found a statistically significant positive relationship between the two.
The reasons behind how technology can help improve education will now be discussed in terms of Bloom's (1956) taxonomy.
What is meant by the term "Digital Literacies?"
1. Gillen, J. & Barton, D. (2010, pp. 4) examine how original concepts of digital literacy were introduced as it became necessary to consider the skills and competencies of those on the receiving end of the products of the ICT industries. Early views of digital literacy were primarily concerned with examining how skilled individuals were in regards to making judgements on information received through the use of technology.
2. Lanham, (1995, pp. 198) claimed that literacy had extended its semantic reach from being “the ability to read and write" to extending to being able to understand information however it is represented. Once again, this definition is preoccupied with the notion of digital literacies as a purely informative concept.
A second key issue:
The notion of digital literacy is not new, with arguments for computer literacy dating back at least to the 1980s (Buckingham, D. 2006, pp. 226).
However, trying to capture the notion of digital literacies in a single definition is extremely difficult; there are several perspectives on this concept, with each one varying in exactly what is meant by the term. These varying conceptions of digital literacy (Lankshear & Knobel, 2008 pp. 4) depend upon the context in which they are used. For example, there is a difference between the requirements behind being able to navigate around a social media website and being able to interpret reliable from unreliable sources.
3. Gilster, (1997, p.1) viewed digital literacy as "the ability to understand and use information in multiple formats from a wide range of sources when it is presented via computers".
These perspectives appear to be too narrow;
Digital literacy defines those abilities which enable an individual for living, learning and working in a digital society. These literacies can be subjective to the individual as well as dependent upon context. Digital literacies refer to how individuals can not only use digital resources to retrieve information, but to summarize, evaluate, create and communicate.
As well as this, digital literacies refer to the platforms that have become cultural forms and part of popular culture, this referring to the way in which technology has infiltrated most aspects of everyday life. No longer limited to use for purely informational purposes, technology is now frequently used in leisure-time as it provides the opportunity for enjoyment and socialising.
These examples of definitions do not take into account the fact that digital literacies now extend further than ever before in contemporary society.
The first Key issue:
These difficulties of defining what digital literacies consist of will now be examined further.
Functional Skills vs. Conceptual Skills
... is the ability to use a keyboard and mouse a feature of digital literacies?
...I had to evaluate the sources used in this presentation for the value they would contribute in my discussion, is this an example of digital literacy?
...is being able to navigate around a website an example of being digitally literate?
The first obstacle in defining digital literacies is the argument between whether digital literacies refers to the mastery of functional or conceptual skills.
It is challenging to define whether digital literacies refer to the ability to use basic features of software tools such as word-processors and spreadsheets, or whether it refers to the ability to analyse, evaluate and engage with a wealth of information through different digital formats that may be available to the individual.
As of result of the continual development of technology, original perceptions of digital literacies can be viewed as redundant as they do not account for new perspectives that have developed as a result of this progress. These early discussions of digital literacy remain primarily preoccupied with viewing digital literacy in terms of information retrieval (Buckingham, 2006. pp. 276). This 'linear' view Buckingham discusses defines digital literacy as the skills behind retrieving and evaluating information through digital resources, a concept that can be found in a vast range of literature:
It is important to view digital literacies as also being embedded in society as social practices that individuals actively engage in, for example the use of social media sites or online gaming. These media forms cannot be sufficiently understood if the trend continues to regard them simply as a matter of techniques (Buckingham, 2006 pp. 265). It is necessary to move beyond the idea of digital literacies as predominately information retrieval.
"The internet, computer games, digital video, mobile phones and other contemporary technologies provide new ways of mediating and representing the world, and of communicating" (Buckingham, 2006, pp. 265).
It would appear that it is fundamental to include all these new forms of technology and the social practices they bring in contemporary definitions of digital literacy.
How engaged are you with these new platforms?
Do you feel confident in your ability to use this social media site to communicate with others?
If you were searching for a particular video, would you feel confident in what terms to search, and then selecting the one you were after from the list of suggestions?
Could you retweet something?
Can you understand text-talk?
Through examining the literature, my summary of digital literacy is:
If you answered yes to those questions, it can be inferred that you are a 'digital native', as you understand the digital language of computers/mobile devices, video games and the internet, (Prensky, 2001, pp. 1).
"In most children’s leisure-time experiences, computers are much more than devices for information retrieval: they convey images and fantasies, provide opportunities for imaginative self-expression and play, and serve as a medium through which intimate personal relationships are conducted. Outside school, children are engaging with these media, not as technologies but as cultural forms," (Buckingham, D. 2006 pp. 265).
Technology use appears to have become an integral part of everyday life for children, how can this be integrated into the learning they receive in schools, and why is this important?
This concept of the 'digital native' is continuing to develop, with significant increases in both the amount of children who are engaging with these technologies, and the amount of time they spend doing so.
- What are they, and in a contemporary context why and how can they be used to enhance children's education?
When considering how learning takes place with technology, the traditional perspective of Bloom's (1956) taxonomy can provide significant insights - maintaining that there are three developmental factors which create successful learning.
- the 'thinking' aspect
- the 'feeling' aspect
- the 'doing' aspect
These three factors will now be examined, as will the ways in which they can be enhanced by the use of technology.
Adapted from Walkup, V. 2009, pp.330.
- the ability to recall information
- to understand and be able communicate to another
- To use learnt knowledge in a new situation
- To deconstruct in order to examine components
- To reconstruct it in order to create new meaning
- To reliably assess the value of that information
The cognitive aspect of learning involves:
Technology can help with this aspect of learning, for example if children were engaged with a video project, they would be thinking about their textual and visual messages along several dimensions, eg. in terms of how to create them, the appropriate style for the target audience and what content to include. An example of this type of learning can be found at www.o2learn.co.uk, which is a website that encourages students to record themselves teaching a certain topic and then to upload the video. A typical example of this type of engagement is: https://www.o2learn.co.uk/o2_video.php?vid=2321
The affective aspect of learning involves:
- What do we absorb and what do we reject?
Responding to it
- What do we react to and how?
- Does this matter to us? Why? How do we show this?
- What matters to us?
- How open are we to change?
In terms of ICT, the affective aspect can be seen as how engaged technology can encourage children to be. Through examining previous research, the Department for Education, (2011) concluded that ICT can help to draw students into more positive modes of motivation,
Technology can keep motivation levels high and create enthusiasm, as the use of technology is enjoyable.
The psycho-motor aspect refers to the physical capabilities required to fulfill a task.
In terms of technology this can range from the use of a mouse/keyboard, to using the controller for a video game.
The following video contains examples of how technology can fulfill these three aspects required for learning.
Why is it important to use technology in education?
There is a general consensus that in contemporary society, information required for work, finance, communication and citizenship is predominately mediated electronically (Rose, 2009. pp 70). The development of technology has meant that tasks that once required substantial effort can now be completed within minutes and with ease. The task of purchasing car tax no longer requires visiting the Post Office with the relevant documents; this can now be done online, where the only information required is the reference number you are provided with and the payment details. The development of Internet Banking means that you no longer need to go into a branch to have inquiries dealt with, with all the information needed being available once you sign into your account.
It is because of these types of changes in our lifestyle that in all branches of knowledge, professions and vocations the effective use of technologies will be vital (Rose, 2009. pp. 70). It is because of this that children must develop and understand how to use different technologies competently.
"In a dense landscape of information sources, communication opportunities and tools for creating new digital objects, teaching and learning cannot be confined to pen and paper activities", (Williamson, 2009, pp.5).
The techniques used for learning need to move beyond the traditional styles. However, there is an on-going debate that the gap between technology use in the home and technology use in the classroom still needs to be addressed. The engagement that children can have with technology is far reaching, as there are numerous forms available, for example:
Software Development Micro Blogging
Online gaming 'Skyping'
Academic research on children’s uses of new technology in their own social and leisure time is contributing to calls for schools to change their approach to how integrated this is with the curriculum, (Williamson, 2009. pp. 5). It seems absurd to accept that generally speaking, in the home children can use whatever technology they want but when they enter the classroom they are essentially asked to 'step back in time'.
The use of gaming in the classroom is growing in popularity.
Felicia (2011) found that video games are ideal to support teaching and increase motivation, with Williamson (2009, pp. 2) finding that:
35% of their sample of UK teachers used computer games in their teaching
60% of teachers would consider using computer games
However, gaming is not the only way in which technology can enhance learning. There is such a vast range of devices and applications that allow technology to infiltrate into the broad spectrum of subjects taught in schools.
Skype in the classroom?
- What opportunities does this create?
- Can children learn about different cultures through this?
- Can classrooms connect and share knowledge with others across the world?
YouTube in the classroom?
Can videos found on YouTube replace traditional teaching methods and lead to a deeper level of understanding as they fulfill the three aspects of Bloom's taxonomy?
Can setting tasks where children are to create a video and then upload it onto YouTube increase the level of interest they display?
The following video is an example of how the learning of Science can be transformed in this way.
Can the interactive use of google maps enhance how subjects such as Geography and History are taught?
This is an example of how Google maps can be used in the classroom. The task was to research which countries were invaded by Nazi Germany in WW2 and then to mark them on the map in the order of invasions.
The previous three are just a few from countless examples of how technology can and is applied.
- What about using Facebook to create a Timeline of a historical figure?
- What about using a GPS to create a Geo-cache where working out the new co-ordinates involves adding and subtracting from the previous location's co-ordinates?
- Instead of simply writing a story, what if pupils were asked to turn it into a Podcast?
However, technology use in the classroom is not without negative implications;
Van Rooy, (2012) noted that the level of expertise teachers display in terms of technology use varies greatly. This means that there will be some learning environments where the teacher is effective in helping students to engage with technology, and some where the teacher is inadequate. This means that some children are given more of an advantage than others. There is extensive research which examines how teacher's have noted that the strongest barriers preventing the use of technology were existing attitudes and beliefs toward it, as well as current levels of knowledge and skills, (Ertmer, P., Otten-breit Leftwich, A., Sadik, O., Senderur, E., & Senderur, P, 2012). This implying that educating teacher's on how to use technology efficiently is still a current issue in the classroom. This is exacerbated by the fact that current policies regarding the ICT curriculum have been disapplied and are no longer statutory, (Department for Education, 2012). As teacher's are free to develop their own curricula in regards to ICT, the difference in attitude and knowledge will affect how successful this freedom is.
Barak, Lipson, & Lerman, (2006) studied how technology can actually prove to be more of a distraction in the classroom. This is because children are more likely to be distracted by other activities they can engage in during the lesson such as checking their Facebook or browsing YouTube. The technology in the classroom can actually cause the children to become 'off task'.
Technology in general has the potential to put children at risk because of the dangers related to internet use. These include exposure to pornographic images and cyber-bullying. It is vital to ensure that children are educated in avoiding these risks.
It is clear that technology has a place within the classroom; depending upon creativity and resources available the scope that technology can extend appears limitless. Technology can be applied to teach almost every subject within the curriculum, with digital literacy being an important set of life skills that 'complement and extend the skills and knowledge already taught in school' (Williamson, 2009. pp. 6).
Why did I use 'Prezi?'
The main reason I chose to use Prezi was because it is a program I had not used before, and I wanted to challenge myself. The program allows the user to embed other media files within the presentation - it is because of this that I decided to use Microsoft Expression Encoder 4, which is another program I had not used before.
The use of Prezi allowed me to create distinctive differences between formal and informal discussions. I tried to create my Prezi in a style that engages the viewer by varying in how different topics are displayed. The layout of my Digital Artefact allowed for there to be components which are represented in a conservative manner to develop an argument, and components which are more 'colloquial' in style. The hardest part to complete of the Digital Artefact was recording the video using Microsoft Expressions; this is because I had never used software like this before and there is 'technical jargon' used in the instructional videos that I did not understand.
Ashwebmaster, (2009). Red Blood cells in anemia [Video online] Available at: www.youtube.com/
Barak, M., Lipson, A. & Lerman, S. (2006). Wireless laptops as means for promoting active learning in large lecture halls. Journal of Research on Technology in Education.
Barton G, & Gillen, J. (2010). Digital Literacies; a Research Briefing by the Technology Enhanced Learning phase. Institute of Education; London..
Bloom, B. S. (1956) Taxonomy of Educational objectives, Handbook 1: The Cognitive Domain; New York: David Mckay.
Buckingham, D. (2006) Defining digital literacy - What do young people need to know about digital media; Nordic Journal of Digital Literacies; Volume 4.
Department for Education (2011) What is the evidence on technology supported learning? The School Curriculum; London.
Department for Education (2009) The School Curriculum; ICT; London
Ertmer, P., Otten-breit Leftwich, A., Sadik, O., Senderur, E., & Senderur, P. (2012). Teacher beliefs and technology integration practices: A critical relationship. Computers & Education, 59(2), 11–14.
Felicia, P (2011) What is the relationship between the use of digital games for learning purposes and students achievement? Waterford Institute of technology.
Gilster, P. Digital Literacy, New York: Wiley and Computer Publishing, 1997.
Lanham, R.A. (1995). Digital literacy, Scientiﬁ c American, 273(3).
Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2008). Digital Literacies: Concepts, Policies and Practices. Peter Lang
Luo, L. & Gao, A. (2012) Innovations in Practice; Enhancing Classroom Learning Experience: Journal of Information Technology Education: Volume 11.
Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants; On the Horizon, University Press: Volume 9.
Rose, J. (2009) Independent review of the primary curriculum, Final report; Nottingham. Skype, (2011). Skype in the Classroom [Video Online] Available at:
Van Rooy, W. (2012). Using information and communication technology (ICT) to the maximum: learning and teaching biology with limited digital technologies. Research in Science & Technological Education, 30(1).
Walkup, V. (2011). Exploring Education Studies. Essex: Pearson.
Williamson, B. (2009). Computer games, schools, and young people; A report for educators on using games for learning; Future Lab: Bristol.
Williamson, B. (2009). Digital participation, digital literacy, and school subjects; A review of the policies, literature and evidence; Future Lab: Bristol.
With thanks to Skype, 2011.
With thanks to ASHWebmaster, (2009).