EdTech 2012 Keynote: Digital Literacy - Your Message is Your Medium
Jul. 18, 2012•0 likes
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My keynote talk at EdTech 2012 in Dublin was about digital literacy. It covered what is digital literacy today versus in previous decades as well as what educators can do to increase digital literacy in their own classrooms & courses.
"Technology is most deﬁnitely used as an
excuse to turn things in late. Technology
might be the cause of a student's fake
problems, but it is also because of technology
that teachers don't accept that as an excuse.
There is pretty much always another way to
write that paper.
It basically takes proof of a crashed computer
to get any sort of extension on an
Matthew Jenks, Colorado University
"When people talk to me about the digital
divide, I think of it not so much about who
has access to what technology as about who
knows how to create and express
themselves in the new language of the
If students aren't taught the language of
sound and images, shouldn't they be
considered as illiterate as if they left college
without being able to read and write?"
George Lucas, ﬁlmmaker
Technology in the classroom is a
distraction and should be used
sparingly (if at all) for learning.
• Technology in the classroom is
essential to helping children learn,
especially given the shift in available
jobs from manufacturing to
In a series of surveys conducted
with Notre Dame students:
• iPads encouraged exploration of additional
• helped them manage their time
• provided new functions/tools for learning
• increased their learning
• made their courses more interesting
• Though they were not instructed to do so, most
students also said they used the iPads to do
reading for other courses and leisure reading.
Not all perfect:
• Some students cited what Angst characterizes as “technical
and behavioral challenges”
• More than half the students reported feeling frustrated
when highlighting text and taking notes within e-books on
• Another drawback was the fact that multiple “windows” or
files couldn’t be kept open, side-by-side, on the iPad, unlike
a full-fledged computer.
• Students also indicated that they considered the device,
which starts at $499, expensive
• More students preferred to be loaned an iPad and purchase
the corresponding e-books (and eventually return the iPad)
than buy the iPad outright (and own it).
“It wasn’t the eReader function of the iPads that won over
the students. It was a host of other features that support
learning. For example, students were able to
instantaneously check statistics I mentioned in class or pull
up information to add to the discussion as I talked about
various companies’ projects.
Moments before the start of class, I could place a video
into students’ dropboxes, and the majority of them would
arrive having already watched it and able to discuss it.
Those sorts of things made the class more interesting and
dynamic and could never have happened in the past.”
Corey Angst, Assistant Professor of Management,
“Do you know how hard it is to get a
far below grade level 6th grader to
read? One of the main reasons is
shame. They don’t want anyone to
know they are reading a 3rd grade
book. They would rather act defiant or
claim a dislike of reading.
This just isn’t the case with Kindle. No
one knows what you are reading.”
Christopher Daley, Salon.com
Lessons I’ve Learned
from teaching web dev:
• Know the difference between “taking a
look”, “learning”, and “mastering”
• Taking a look means understanding its
• Learning means knowing how to use it
• Mastering means being able to handle
it in complex situations
• Have students learn with you & create new
content for themselves and each other
• Create a classroom digital library of
content & materials; let students contribute
anything they think is useful or interesting
• Build archives of material, both for former
and new students
• Publish your notes so students can have
more access to them on a variety of
“In Twilight of the Idols Nietzsche wrote
that the ‘apparent’ world is the only one:
the ‘true’ world is merely added by a lie.
All of us in higher education can live
without the lie.
We know better.
Higher education is not a rehearsal and
learning is not preparation. Learning is
learning. And all of us live in but one
You used the computer for programming or creating signs, maybe writing documents\nLearning how to type\nMaking CDs for your friends\n
I&#x2019;d like you to turn to your neighbor and find out if they&#x2019;re using any digital devices in classrooms at the moment or if they plan to, or are budgeting to, or have decided not to (and if so why?).\n
I don't need to tell you that amazon sold a million kindles a week in december\n\n
I don't even need to tell you that your content, your web applications, your services and designs need to reach a wider audience than they do right now (even the ones that aren't doing this know it \nand they feel guilty about all the sites they're going to go back & update at some unknown \n\npoint in the future when they magically have nothing going on for a long weekend and time has stopped and they can just catch up.\n\n
BECAUSE YOU KNOW ALL OF THIS.\n\nBut I&#x2019;m telling you anyway.\n\nYES AGAIN. BEcause I&#x2019;m tired. \n
Many schools cannot access sites such as YouTube, Vimeo, Twitter, and many more. However well intentioned the policies that block social media are, they are also failing our students by limiting possibilities for learning about&#x2014;and from&#x2014;the world. \nThe right way to approach student activity online is through better education. To start, digital and media literacy help students think critically and act responsibly. Authentic, real-world projects compel students to explore and engage in all the right ways.\n
So if schools and boards around the world are beginning to recognize the importance of devices in classrooms, how can we take advantage of this? \n
Students need to do to learn. \n
Did you know the daily is laid out by hand every day. \n
Peter Seibel asks top programmers what they&#x2019;re looking for when they hire new programmers.\nThey all say the same thing: ability to learn. \n