Digital Fluency

Since we live in an age of innovation, a practical education must prepare a man for work that does not yet exist and cannot yet be clearly defined.– Peter F. Drucker

Loading skills concept with human head and gear
Digital Skills Loading (WordPress, 2016)

Technology has been changing the way we learn and interact for years (White, 2013).  In the 21st century digital technology is playing a central role in the way students both learn and interact not only in the classroom, but in society.  Students today are ‘digital natives,’ born and growing up in a world that is technology-rich, using technology as if it is a part of themselves.  But just because they are able to use technology for personal reasons, does not mean they know how to effectively and responsibly utilise technology to learn, research and enhance their productivity (Sheninger, 2016).  In an article in The Telegraph (2013) Executive Director of Mozilla Foundation Mark Surman said that “becoming literate in how the technical world works is equivalent to reading, writing and maths. We need to look at this fourth literacy as mainstream,” to develop the skills to make and create meaning, develop fluency through competencies and capabilities (Spencer, 2015).  Educators are beginning to recognise that for students to effectively participate in society as digital citizens they must teach them to comfortably use current and emerging technologies to prepare them for the future, as more parents, employers and communities are expecting students to be digitally fluent (Howell, 2012; Shelly, Gunter, & Gunter, 2012), to be able to select appropriate digital tools, know what they do, how they work and be able to adapt them to suit different contexts (Spencer, 2015). 

Digital technology in education is more than just the use of technology to increase efficiency and motivation in the classroom.  It is about encouraging creativity and sharing of knowledge to learn how to problem solve in both digital and real world situations (Howell, 2012).  Teachers need to see that “digital fluency transcends devices, apps and programs.  [Implying] that a student can quickly, accurately and deliberately communicate, collaborate and create across platforms” (Holland, 2013).  The challenge for teacher is how to teach the skills and concepts of digital literacy and the skills that will be needed for future jobs that have yet be created. After school programs such as CoderDojo, or teachers that use online resources such as Hackasaurus or Scratch can encourage students to be creative, to edit and modify online material that interests them.  In a TED Talk, Doug Belshaw (2012) sees that focus on a student’s interest as the key to developing intrinsic motivation to want to learn digital literacies; that the remix of digital material available can help students to build their confidence in the digital world.

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The Australian curriculum emphasis the need for digital literacy to take place in the classroom, through the implementation of ICT general capabilities.  That there is a difference in the way students construct knowledge and interact with each other and that the skills and dispositions obtain in the use of ICT will assist students to live and work successfully in the 21st century. (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA], n.d.).  It is important to know as a teacher that digital literacy practices are constantly changing, and it is necessary that teachers keep up to date the skills required for the future, as with every new digital tool comes a different of impacting the world (Belshaw, 2012).

Work Cited:

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA]. (n.d.). Australian Curriculum: F-10 Curriculum Technologies. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/technologies/introduction

Belshaw, D. (2012, March). The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies [streaming video] TEDxWarwick. Retrieved from http://ed.ted.com/on/fk5onuUB

Eventbrite. (2016). Coderdojo[image]. Retrieved from https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/coderdojo-melbourne-inspire9-2016-term-2-tickets-23154188802

Gurney-Read, J. (2013, November 11). Digital Literacy ‘As Important as Reading and Writing’. The Telegraph.

Holland, B. (2013, December 16). Building Technology Fluency: Preparing Students to be Digital Learners. Retrieved from Edutopia: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/building-tech-fluency-digital-learners-beth-holland

Howell, J. (2012). Teaching wih ICT: Digital Pedagogies for Collaboraion and Creativity. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Shelly, G. B., Gunter, G. A., & Gunter, R. E. (2012). Teahers Discovering Computers: Integrating Technology in a Connected World. (7th ed.). Boston: Cengage Learning.

Sheninger, E. (2016, January 10). Every’s School’s Obligation. Retrieved from A Principal’s Reflections: http://esheninger.blogspot.com.au/2016/01/every-schools-obligation.html

Smore. (n.d.). Scratch programming [image]. Retrieved from https://www.smore.com/6zuy-scratch

Spencer, K. (2015, October). What is Digital Fluency? Retrieved from CORE Education: http://blog.core-ed.org/blog/2015/10/what-is-digital-fluency.html/comment-page-2#comments

Storyengine. (2011). Hackasaurus[image]. Retrieved from https://openmatt.org/2011/11/10/video-how-to-use-mozilla-hackasaurus/

White, G. (2013). Digital Fluency: Skills Necessary for Learning in the Digital Age. Melbourne: Australian Council for Educational Research.

WordPress. (2016). Digital skills loading [image]. Retrieved from https://theclassroomkelpie.wordpress.com

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