The main point I want to emphasise throughout this presentation is that Literacy is changing and so is the world. And we have issues to tackle. One of which, is digital inclusion and the development of digital literacies. Tackling digital inclusion, and ensuring equality of digital participation opportunities for all young people, requires not only access to technology but also the digital literacy skills and knowledge which will allow people to read, write, create and communicate using such technology when appropriate (Hague, 2009).Our jobs as teachers and education professionals is to help children not just find their own voice, but to give them a platform on which to use it. It’s all apart of their ability to develop and construct their own understanding of the world. And to do so, transformation of curricular policy and practice is required, to ensure a match between education and today’s advanced technological society.
There is no denying, digital literacy experiences are already vital components for people’s functioning in society and it is clear digital media and technology play big parts in children’s lives. Experiences in digital literacies have the purpose of giving children the opportunity to develop the transferable skills and competencies which they can adapt to suit the advancements in technology, communication and society today and in the future. But more importantly, digital technology transforms not only the traditional view of literacy, but also the role of schools and the curriculum. If we ignored that, we are ignoring the fact that we live in an advanced technological society. It is our duty to give children the tools that will enable them to be active, confident and successful members of society. So in some areas, this requires fundamental change in policy, practice and thinking.
So, in this presentation – I’m not going to bombard everyone here with theory. Well. Not for the entire time anyway!To answer the question that I posed in the abstract for the presentation, I thought I would split it into 4 areas to look at today.So firstly, the Key terms and concepts surrounding and embedded in digital literacies – this is something that is still debated quite highly, so I guess I’m just contributing to that!It seemed appropriate to then look at the theoretical position and ideas from research as to the impact digital literacieshave on learning, development and practice across the stages.Then I have an example for practice from an inner city nursery school in relation to digital literacies and the skills that are involved in that.Then to summarise, what does this means overall for the curriculum – rationale behind it, the benefits from digital literacies and the barriers to effective practice and development.
In literacy education, children are engaging with literacy using a greater variety of tools and media, which therefore means they are engaging with new literacies. The engagement, enjoyment and challenge this presents for children is fantastic, but what still needs developed is an understanding of what these new literacies actually are, what they mean for practitioners, and how we embed them in every day practices across classrooms and schools in the UK.I don’t mean being able to function using a computer. Digital literacy is hard to define, and it makes me uneasy to bring it down to a list of ‘indicators’ but for quickness, it’s commonly agreed that digital literacy is about children’s capacity to: create, organise, reusing, repurpose, filter,select and present using a variety of tools and mediums for different purposes in different contexts.On a wider scale, it’s really about having the mind-set and capabilities to be a functioning member of society – but that’s a whole discussion in itself!
Supporting the idea of digital technology transforming the curriculum, Lankshear and Snyder (2000, p.38) state that “with the arrival of new communication and information technologies... challenges conventional ways of thinking about literacy in terms of text, as well as challenging our very idea of texts.” This highlights the point that we can no longer stick with the tradition view of literacy because society is changing, and with this, so is what it means to be literateGlister (1997) states quite clearly his opinion that “Digital literacy is about mastering ideas, not keystrokes.” This definition stands his view apart from others more ‘technical skills’ approach to defining digital literacy. He believes digital literacy is: - I won’treadit for you, youcansee the definition up on the screen.His mention of ‘networked computers’ is a reminder straight away of the time he wrote this, a time when the internet was taking off and was a relatively new experience for people (Bawden, 2008). But looking into the meaning behind what he is saying, it is of relevance to digital literacies today. He discusses the importance of the skill required to be literate in a digital age, the skills of picking out, sorting, analysing and interpreting information we derive from digital sources. But as Bawden (2008) discusses, many critics would view Glister (1997)’s definition of digital literacy as the same as the definition of the safe and effective use of the internet, which he argues is not the case at all. In defence, Glister (1997) states that it is in no way his intent to suggest giving up other sources of information to solely use the internet, but rather consider it as one of many sources or tools for retrieving information. This leads on to his opinion that, digital literacy is about being able to retrieve, understand and use information in varying and multiple formats from a wide array of sources. This is where his definition stands out. It is not solely based around digital technology, it is more about ideas and mind-sets which are developed through the use of different skills; an essential requirement for life in a digital society (Bawden, 2008).
Discussed earlier, there is great debate and variation surrounding the definition and meaning of digital literacy. With this comes growing debate as to the importance of digital literacy across the curriculum and whether or not it should be a fundamental aspect of learning and teaching practices across the stages.
Bearne (2007) is strong in her standpoint that digital technology plays an important role in developing well rounded individuals with enquiring minds. Popular cultural and home textual experiences now vary widely, and the texts children are reading vary greatly in format and context. More and more, children are reading and writing using online, digital tools. One way is through social media and networking; for example Facebook and MSN. This is just one aspect of the wide and highly diverse textual landscape that young readers and writers are now exposed to. Digital technology changes the format of what are now common texts for children. They are now screen-based; digital. Most commonly we have websites, DVDs, virtual gaming environments; which combine sound, text, photographic and digitally created visuals, email and many others. Supporting this argument, Kress (2006) believes that with digital media becoming embedded within our everyday social, cultural and economic environments, it’s vital not just for children, but for all people to gain the skills integral to the use of these technologies, and thus gain from the benefits they offer (Kress, 2006).
Bearne (2007) argues that this in itself creates a new challenge for us as educationalists. As teachers, we need to be taking account of and putting the children’s cultural capital and individual learning needs and the centre of all we do, in particular when it comes to literacy experiences. Children come to school with great differences in their personal textual and life experiences outside school. It is this diversity which enriches the experiences children have in school, and when acknowledged and celebrated we can hopefully achieve successful literary and textual experiences for the children in our care; experiences that suit the needs of a child in a digitally advanced society (Bearne, 2007).
digital literacy. He viewed it as incorporating the skills and competencies in making decisions on the tools to use, and not just using technology because we This emphasises that it is our responsibility as skilled professionals to be clear in our understanding of the effectiveness of the technology and tools that we offer to children in our classrooms. It’s not a matter of using digital technology for the sake of it. There needs to be a clear purpose; a rationale behind what we do. It often seems we have seen curricular and legislative transformation relating to digital literacies, just not across the board in practice. We have a great responsibility in developing the digital literacies that children need in order to be successful, confident and responsible members of society. To facilitate this, we need to ensure we offer opportunities for effective learning and development in what is encompassed by digital literacy. Digital literacy experiences are vital in learning and teaching practices across the stages, because this is one way In which we can ensure that all children and young people, not just those who are well off, can use technology effectively and in meaningful ways, and can feel included and active in our increasingly digital culture; socially and secularly.
In practice, I was in a Glasgow Nursery School, working with children 3 and 4 years old.They absolutely loved trains, and were fascinated with what made them move, and the train station.One morning, Oran asked, ‘What makes trains move?’ So we started with what. We explored this question and lots of other things about trains for nearly 4 weeks! The children kept on coming up with loads of things for us to explore!We recorded all out experiences in our ‘big book’ or journal of children’s learning.
This is the finished product!! – as you can tell, the children literally did all the work! (just about!)
After a few days of endless chat about trains, the noise they make, how fast they can move, the places you can go on them…We decided to plan all the things we wanted to learn about…The children led this, I was simply the scribe!In my own planning for each of the experiences I was facilitating, I would ensure that each of the principles behind the curriculum were embedded within them (which really just happened naturally when the children were leading the experiences) but also, I would reflect on how the experiences contributed to developing the four capacities – successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens. This is just an example of how the planning of what we wanted to learn encouraged.
This is amazing.Callum and Aiden decided we couldn’t just turn up at the train station and hope there was a train. So they wanted to find out when the train was.Aiden said his dad checks the internet for his train. So we naturally went to the computer to try this out.I got the website up for them, and they took over. They typed in the destination, where we were leaving from and then asked for help to put the times in too! We pressed search, and we got our train times!I would need hours to discuss the learning that was going on here – not just for the kids!!It’s clear he has started his development of his digital literacy skills – vital skills for an active, functioning member of society.
Digital technology facilitated and was embedded in their literacy experiences before, during and after the outdoor experience. For example, the used the digi-blue cameras, digital cameras, voice recorders etc. etc. So in their experiences and in making their big books, they were:Creating multi-modal representations of their experience (semiotics)Combining modes to make meaning Gathering and collating information, looking out for information and interesting things, exploring, mark-making, recording, sharing, evaluating, reflecting and sharing with friends, staff and familyAll vital components of being literate in a technologically and digitally advanced society – being literate in the 21st century.The list really is endless! But what is important to note, is how digital technology was embedded in this, and how keen the children were to use it!This was also a chance to see digital technology used in a new and different context and the purposes of it in that situation, like ticket machines, the computer the ticket man uses, people on their mobiles, etc. etc.
I had to put this picture in because I promised Reece, that when I was telling people about our trip, I would show them the picture of him driving the Virgin Train!This really is digital technology in a new and exciting context.
When we got back to the nursery, the children didn’t want to go home, they wanted to look through all the videos and pictures they had taken!The recordings of video, conversation and pictures allowed the children to reflect on what they had experience and what they had learned, and then because of this they could plan their next steps in learning.They would say things like:‘We saw that so we can build one of them now!’The children were able to make their own decisions based on the information they had gathered and what they had experienced, they new when to go to a friend or to come to me for help – Vygotsky’s ZPD in action!Using technology just came naturally to them, and was an integral part to their self-directed play and peer-group experiences. It wasn’t a matter of saying, we could use a camera because that would be a bit different, it was just a matter of using that tool because it was what made sense to them to use.From what has been discussed so far, we can see a massive shift in what it now means to be literate, right from children’s early literacy experiences, before and after starting formal education – an entirely different generation of children.
Digital technology was a tool for us to look back on what we had learned, reminisce about good times we had and things we had learned, and through using this as well as by experiencing engaging activities, the children developed an intrinsic motivation to set their own learning goals and plan their next steps – all in the context of trains too!The point is, digital literacies seems to be something that develops naturally when the use of digital technology is well-planned and thought out by the practitioner, while giving the children the freedom and choice to initiate their use in real, familiar and purposeful contexts.
This just sums up how digital technology was embedded in their experiences, and the purpose and positive impact that it had in their literacy, communication and all round development as a well-rounded individual. The tools that they were using were familiar to them, and they saw their use as a vital component of their experience at that time.
Literacy is changing. The traditional view of it as reading and writing is no longer relevant. Is this demonstrated through policy and practice in our schools? Or is it still the case that ICT viewed as an add-on or an ‘extra tool’. If so, what questions does this raise, and how does this reflect in practice?So for us, we need to reflect on, the role and purpose of digital literacies across the curriculum; how we can incorporate such practices into the curriculum, and how we can evaluate the effectiveness of our efforts to use digital technology as a means of enhancing and enriching the curriculum. So, if we want to facilitate learning that is relevant, contextualised, authentic and embedded in children’s cultural capital and daily experiences, digital technology and digital literacy experiences have to be at the core of the curriculum.
The development of digital literacies is a very interactive and engaging process for students. This is a positive indicator that it has been incorporated into the curriculum from the outset, emphasising again its importance and central role in allowing children to attain to their fullest potential. From the previous discussion, it had become clear, transformation of the curriculum to incorporate digital literacies requires transformation of practice, not curricular documentation.CfE aims to do is to harness the best practice in teaching and learning, including the use of digital technology, and extended across all educational establishments and school curriculums to ensure equality of opportunity, and that all children are experiences a top class education (Russell, 2010). While we have examples of best practice, and a developing understanding of the importance of digital literacy experiences, this is something that needs to be harnessed, analysed, discussed and debated among teachers and other educational professionals. From this, we can develop a plan for action, centred on an understanding of the needs and wants of children in a technological society. Only then, will we be able to reach a point in time where we can say our education system really meets the needs of 21st century children, and the advancing and developing technological society that we live in.
This justre-emphasisesearlier points.It is vital we look atthis in a more practicalthantheoreticalway. It is a vital component of children’sliteracydevelopmentsoweneed to harness the potential of digital technology.Practicitionersshouldharness the freedomthatwe have to shape how we use technology – hopefullyencorporating the principleswe have discussed.It willtakecreativity, patience and focus.
You couldanswer the question I posed in the abstract.Whatrole do digital literaciesplay in developingsuccessfullearners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsiblecitizens?Think back to the example and the discussion of the theory and researchthatunderpinsit:The keywords or phrases wouldbe: enthusiasm, motivation, literacy and communication skills, independence, evaluation, participation in political, economic, social and cultural life – the listisendless.But I’m sure youwouldagree, wecansaywithgreat assurance, that digital literacies are integral to encouragingsuccessfullearners, confident indiviuals, effective contributors and responsiblecitizens.In conclusion, the world is changing. Communication is changing. Literacy is changing. A traditional approach to literacy and to the curriculum does no longer suit or meet the needs of a citizen in a technologically advanced, global society (Lankshear C. &., 2008). Transformation is essential if we want a match between learners and the curriculum. Incorporating their cultural capital as the basis for our curriculum and ensuring experiences are relevant, contextualised and purposeful by default, involves the effective use digital technology and digital literacy experiences. This will allow our children and young people to develop skills and competencies which are transferable and adaptable to suit the needs of global citizens as technology and communication continues to develop, change and transform.So again,‘If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.’ John Dewy
Digital Literacies - Lessons from the Early Years
Paul Campbell ‘We are in the middle of a revolution in how knowledge isB.Ed. (Primary) created, transmitted and organised that is similar inYear 3 significance to that which followed the invention ofUniversity of printing.’Strathclyde - Seb Schmoller
“The collective knowledge of thepeople usually outweighs that of thespeaker. It is about sharing goodpractice and things that work in theclassroom.” - Ian Usher, e-learning co-ordinator
Digital Literacy - why talk about it?• ‘As teachers are given more freedom to innovate, technology is expected to play a major role in transforming our schools and the way education is delivered’ – Liz Lightfoot• Real, relevant, familiar context that is a vital component of children’s everyday lives.• Transformation of the curriculum.• Transferrable skills.• Tools for participation today, not just the future.
• Key terms and concepts surrounding and embedded in digital literacies• What is the theoretical position and ideas from research ?• An example for practice• What this means overall for the curriculum – rationale, benefits and barriers
Digital literacy – literacy in the digital ageliteracy as more the ability to read, write and handleinformation using the technology available at thetime in which we live(Glister, 1997)“today’s generation has grown up in a digitallandscape. For most of them, there’s never been atime in their lives when computers, cell phones, videogames and the Internet haven’t surrounded them.”(Jukes, 2006)
“with the arrival of new communication and information technologies...challenges conventional ways of thinking about literacy in terms of text, aswell as challenging our very idea of texts.” (Lankshear and Snyder, 2000)picking out, sorting, analysing and interpreting information we derive fromdigital sources – to be literate in the digital ageNot about giving up other sources of information to solely use the internet,but consider it as one of many sources or tools for retrieving informationDigital literacy is about being able to retrieve, understand and useinformation in varying and multiple formats from a wide array of sources.It is not solely based around digital technology, it is more about ideas andmind-sets which are developed through the use of different skills “Digital literacy is about mastering ideas, not keystrokes.”
Digital Literacies – vital skills(Bearne, 2007) (Kress, 2006)Popular cultural and home textual experiences now vary widely, and thetexts children are reading vary greatly in format and context.Social media and networking - for example Facebook and MSN.Screen-based; digital. Most commonly we have websites, DVDs, virtualgaming environments; which combine sound, text, photographic anddigitally created visuals, email and many others.Digital media is embedded within our everyday social, cultural and economicenvironments
In a digitally advanced society…• Cultural Capital• Individual learning needs• Personal textual and life experiences• Diversity enriches children’s experiences
‘The way to modernise our work is not to use a computerinstead of a typewriter and call it innovative.’ – Heidi Jacobs• Clear rationale and theoretical underpinning.• Not using digital technology for the sake of it.• Vital in order for children to be successful, confident and responsible members of society.• Can and have the opportunity to use technology effectively and in meaningful ways.• Included and active.
‘What makes* Glasgow City Nursery School trains move?’ - Oran* Group of children aged 3 and 4 years old* The children decided they wanted to learn about trains. They were absolutely fascinated by them* Creating a ‘Journal of Children’s Learning’/ ‘Big-book’** Each of the experiences in our Journal were child-initiated *A bit of background…
• Purpose • Coherence• Relevance • Progression• Personalisation • Challenge and and choice enjoyment Successful Learners with enthusiasm and motivation for learning use literacy, communication and numeracy skills. Confident Individuals with ambition, relate to others and manage themselves. Responsible Citizens with respect for others, make informed choices and decisions. Effective Contributors with self-reliance, communicate in different ways and different settings.
Tools and Experiences… • Digi-blue cameras • Clipboards, pencils and picture prompts • Digital Cameras • Portable tape recorders • Sound clips • Video clips and picturesI listen or watch for As I play and learn, I enjoyuseful or interesting exploring interestinginformation and I use materials for writing andthis to make choices different ways of recordingor learn new things. my experiences and feelings, ideas and information.LIT 0-04a LIT 0-21b
• Reflection • Self-directed • Engagement • Planning next steps• Child-initiated and led Within real and imaginary• Recognising achievement situations, I share experiences and feelings, ideas and information in a• Active engagement way that communicates my message. LIT 0-09a
Researching atnursery (books,play, games + I use signs, books or otherdigital tools) texts to find useful or interesting informationTrain trip and I use this to plan, make choices or learn new things. LIT 0-14a
Use tools available and Naturally and most often, child-initiated. familiar to them Video, pictures and tape recorders for: - planning and reflecting on learning creating - recording experiences during play content, - compiling info/evidence for their organising ‘big-book/journal of learning’ content, reusing and Computers for: repurposing, - Internet to source information and filtering and selecting and - pictures for experiences (train trip, flying self-presenting scotsman, designing trains etc. etc. etc.)How were digital literacy skills embeddedin their experiences?
Principles that must underpin curriculum design:• Purpose• Relevance• Personalisation and choice• Challenge and enjoyment
Digital technology is embedded in children’s natural play/experiences and everyday life.They are already developing their digital literacy skills well before they start school.‘The way to modernize our work is not to use a computer instead of a typewriterand call it innovative.’ – Heidi JacobsNew technologies are beginning to be used in literacy education, thus new literacies arenow being engaged with (Knobel, 2006).Is the changing concept of ‘literacy’ reflected in curriculardocumentation and practice?Our curriculum supports us in our endeavor to contextualize the use of digital technologyand digital literacy experiences – what are the barriers to making this commonevery day practice?Technologies for Learning Strategy Points to consider
The Future ‘The literacy and English framework reflects the increased use of multimodaltexts, digital communication, social networking and the other forms ofelectronic communication encountered by children and young people in theirdaily lives. It recognises that the skills which children and young people need tolearn to read these texts differ from the skills they need for reading continuousprose.’Literacy and English – Principles and Practice (Scottish Executive, 2009)• The topic needs to be analysed, discussed and debated among teachers and other educational professionals.• Then a plan for action, centred on an understanding of the needs and wants of children in a technological society
Where do we need to go now?• Technology is not another drain on a school budget, but a vital investment in children’s futures. It’s a vital component of their literacy development.• How can we reduce our technology overheads by more judicious technology planning.• The time is ripe for practitioners, rather than policymakers to shape the way technology is used, supported and taught in schools from now on.• Educators need to utilise the explosion in digital writing.• It will take creative pedagogies.
Successful Learners Confident IndividualsSo… With With enthusiasm and motivation for learning self-respect determination to reach high standards of a sense of physical, mental and emotionalThe role do digital literacies achievement wellbeingin developing: openness to new thinking and ideas secure values and belief and able to ambition use literacy, communication and and able to- Successful Learners numeracy skills relate to others and manage themselves use technology for learning- Confident Individuals think creatively and independently pursue a healthy and active lifestyle- Effective Contributors learn independently and as part of a group be self-aware develop and communicate their own beliefs- Responsible Citizens make reasoned evaluations and view of the world link and apply different kinds of learning in live as independently as they can new situations assess risk and take informed decisions achieve success in different areas of activity Effective Contributors Responsible Citizens With With respect for others an enterprising attitude commitment to participate responsibly in resilience political, economic, social and cultural life self-reliance and able to and able to develop knowledge and understanding of the world and our country’s place in it communicate in different ways and in different settings understand different beliefs and cultures work in partnership and in teams make informed choices and decisions take the initiative and lead evaluate environmental, scientific and apply critical thinking in new contexts technological issues create and develop develop informed, ethical views of complex solve problems Issues