For me, the three most significant features of the current social landscape within post-industrial countries is the increase in connectivity, the mainstreaming of collaborative online practices and the rise of real time and location based activity. And these are not just significant within a techno-social landscape, but to our understanding of mainstream culture.
Facebook reaches 500 million users, Guardian Newspaper 21 July 2010 http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/jul/21/facebook-500-million-users One of the first things I think it's key to acknowledge when we're talking about learning landscapes is the reality of the majority of the UK's engagement with technology as a current and everyday practice. Of course, this is true for many other countries as well, but I'm focusing here on what the research indicates is likely to be the daily experience of many people in my city. We need to shift our perspective from one that looks forward to a future where most people are connected via the internet, mobile and gaming to one that recognises that we are there already - and has already begun to reconfigure our social, cultural, political and economic landscape. Many people will be thinking that I'm stating the obvious here but for a lot of people getting to grips with what the reality of this is - how connectivity impacts on people’s lives in immediate and very personal ways - still seems to be a deferrable abstract concept. It isn't. We create digital identities online for our children, often before they are born; we meet our temporary and longer term romantic partners, and break up with our existing partners; we create digital memorials to the dead and try and work out what to do with their online identities and assets once they have gone. Digital spaces are social, economic, political and cultural spaces. They are every day spaces, spaces where people live out the dramas and the minutia of their lives.
Having a device and a connection to hand supports intimacy within networks, and the ability to take ownership of networks - providing greater opportunity to create one's own networks, for continuity and development. We need to be mindful that a great deal of current research highlights correlations between socio economic status and access. This isn’t the only barrier to access but it’s a critical and significant one. We need to be aware that as social and economic activity increasingly takes place within networked environments, a significant minority of those who aren’t accessing these environments, or not accessing them with the same level of confidence or able to develop and maintain skills and competencies through frequent access, are potentially being further disadvantaged. This is one of the key reasons why our schools have a critical role to play in not just providing access but in modelling the use of technology which supports the development of digital literacy.
EU Kids Online – Slide from Safer Internet Forum Presentations, October 2010http://www2.lse.ac.uk/media@lse/research/EUKidsOnline/PresentationsSIF2010.aspxBlanket assumptions about young people’s ability to understand technology by osmosis, and the blunt use of the Digital Native metaphor runs the risk of isolating and further disadvantaging already vulnerable young people.Recent research has clearly underlined the need to address children’s and young people’s use of the internet, mobile and games technologies in the context of digital literacy.
EU Kids Online – Slide from Safer Internet Forum Presentations, October 2010http://www2.lse.ac.uk/media@lse/research/EUKidsOnline/PresentationsSIF2010.aspxThe EU kids online initial findings, reported in October 2010, highlights issues around the increasingly young age that children go on line, and the range of contacts and relationships young people engage in. It’s well worth a read. It’s interesting to see the role digital space plays in a significant percentage of positive identity development and self expression - 50% of the young people surveyed reported ‘feeling more like themselves online’.
Becta’s research report on Web 2.0 Technologies for KS3 and KS4, published in July 2008 is also well worth downloading before the site is taken down on January 31st. The report points up young people’s largely pedestrian use of technology, and highlights the role that educators could and should be playing in supporting young peoples engagement as producers, creators, curators rather than primarily as consumers: “Many learners lack technical skills, and lack an awareness of the range of technologies and of when and how they could be used, as well as the digital literacy and critical skills to navigate this space. Teachers should be careful not to overestimate learners’ familiarity and skills in this area. There is a clear role for teachers in developing such skills.”
Digital Literacy is now understood as an essential skill for 21st century citizens, as the effective use of technology is increasingly critical from social, economic, cultural and political perspectives. This is true in terms of the opportunities digital literacy affords individuals, as well as for cities and larger regions.There are many definitions of digital literacy. In one of the earliest (2006), Allan Martin defined Digital Literacy as“…the awareness, attitude and ability of individuals to appropriately use digital tools and facilities to identify, access, manage, integrate, evaluate, analyse and synthesise digital resources, construct new knowledge, create media expressions, and communicate with others in the context of specific life situations, in order to enable constructive social action; and to reflect upon this process.”
Supporting critical and confident engagement with technological environments and tools – prioratising the role of networked learning environments - is a practical way that we can recognise and meet the challenges of our changed social landscape, attend to the issues around inequality and e-safety, and take advantage of the many opportunities for more effective and engaging learning experiences.Promoting engagement in networked learning practices both supports the development of digital literacy, and ensures that people can create and engage in networks that are specific to their personal needs. It also ensures that resource is spent most effectively – equipping people and communities with the practical and critical skills to determine their own developmental networks. Engaging in practice which supports and helps build capacity into organisations is a good thing at the best of times; during times of economic uncertainty it becomes a critical stratergy
Josie Fraser Online Educa Berlin 2010 Keynote: Building Networked Learning Environments
Digital Literacy & Learning Communities: Supporting 21st Century Learners Online Educa Berlin 2010 Keynote Josie Fraser @josiefraser
What’s changed?Increasing availability of network connecteddevices, especially mobileShift in mainstream social activity -rise of social networking & social web servicesRise of presence & geo indicators & services -fixed and mobile
Impact of digitalpersistentreplicablesearchablescalable(de)locatablehttp://www.danah.org/papers/talks/PennState2009.html
Three Models of LiteracyFunctionalSocio-culturalTransformationalBélisle, C. (2006) “Literacy and the Digital Knowledge Revolution” in Martin &Madigan, 2006: 51-67Martin & Grudziecki, DigEuLit: Concepts and Tools for Digital LiteracyDevelopment (PDF)
Digital Literacy =digital tool knowledge +critical thinking +social engagement
Digital LiteracySupports and helps develop traditional and newliteraciesA life long practice – skills in the context ofcontinual development of technologies andpracticesCritical reflection on how skills and competenciesare appliedSocial engagement –collaboration, communication, and creation withinsocial contexts
Mapping vision to actionsDeveloping skills, competences and confidenceSupporting innovation & expert practitionersBuilding capacity and sharing resourceEquipping staff and learners to engage with andcreate learning appropriate networks