Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Nature of Digital Literacy

This course has been useful in developing my own personal tool literacy in a couple of different ways. For the last two years I have asked my students to make movies for various presentations in several different classes but I have not made one myself. I think that making myself go through the same process that they did/will do is an important part of understanding exactly what the assignment entails (in terms of skills needed, time commitment, and communication of knowledge).
I have also not made a professional blog before. While starting a blog did not challenge me technically, I possessed the digital skills to make the blog before I started this course. My tool literacy was improved though the act of making the blog. I have been thinking about starting a blog to provide a forum for me to think and write through teaching issues and provide a forum for professional dialogue. Now that I have created the site I am committed to using it. Hopefully, I will be able to continue these postings. As I proceed through this degree I have noticed the benefit I obtain from having thought about something enough to put it to words (in the form of a forum or blog post) and the benefit from the professional dialogue that results (one of the benefits is that I enjoy it).
My big takeaways from the course involve the multifaceted nature of literacy and the critical thought needed to be literate. At a previous school we attempted to define literacy. Obviously, this was a difficult task but one that allowed me to think about all of the different ways to be literate. I volunteered to be on the committee writing the definition with the sole purpose of making sure that scientific literacy was represented. Admittedly, this was somewhat narrow minded of me as there was scientific literacy and so much more to include in the definition. After this course I see that while we tried to make the definition as inclusive as possible we still forgot some aspects of literacy and I am reminded how interrelated all of the various forms of literacy are. When listening to all of my classmates’ presentations there seemed to be great commonality between them. Whether it is nature or numbers being literate involves reaching a proficiency in interpreting, understanding and communicating.
Critical thinking plays a large part in digital literacy. Whether the critical thought is in the form of interpreting a message and deciding upon it context or in having the foresight to understand that things posted to the Internet have a permanent and very public presence and should be carefully considered. This idea is something that I am going to try to share with my students next year. I do not know exactly how this will happen or what I will do to stimulate my students’ thoughts on this topic but I think that it is something that they should spend some time considering. (If you have any ideas please let me know).

Finally, the development of students’ digital literacy (technological skills and critical thought) is important if they are going to continue to use digital tools and to function in an increasingly technological society. Also I want them to be aware of the increasing divide that exists between the haves and the have-nots. The digital divide is widening in North America and is even worse on a world scale. The discrepancy between technology access in the first world and third world countries is immense. I also want students to recognize their fortune in being a have and the social responsibility that comes with this position.

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