Tag Archives: Change

Digital Literacies

Digital literacies, to me, are an enormous part of the shift towards digital technology in the classroom. As educators, there’s a number of traditional literacies that need attention as well as various new literacies that need instruction within our classes. For a Masters of Education (ICT) assignment, I surveyed and interviewed a number of teachers at my current institution to examine their beliefs on digital literacies. I wanted to find out what literacies would be needed by students in their classes.

While reviewing the literature, I set out to make a list of skills that reoccurred throughout the literature (see Digital Literacies list below). Of these digital literacies, I wanted to know the ones that should be implemented within our curriculum. In order the most popular ones were:

  1. Collecting
  2. Information literacy
  3. Communicating
  4. Connecting
  5. Critical thinking and doing
  6. Collaborating
  7. Text production

 

Reasons

It was interesting to note that interviewees and survey respondents not only rationalized the skills to be used within their classes but also in socioeconomic terms as they believed these skills would help their students after graduation in the workplace. Some went so far as understanding digital literacies within a socio-cultural context as these would make them better people functioning together for a better society.

Language teachers gave a range of reasons why these should be considered important for their students. A few teachers mentioned that these skills could be utilized by students to become more autonomous in their language learning. To finish that thought, when asked in the survey for examples, teachers said that students might become more independent when they have collected bookmarks and know the right tools to find the information they are looking for.

Content teachers looked at these skills from more of an academic research perspective. One teacher remarked in an open ended survey question that students always lack the information literacy skills to find the right information and work the text appropriately. I can only guess that this teacher was referring to critical or higher order thinking skills when they said ‘work’.

 

Reflections

I would consider the top seven digital literacies chosen by teachers represent active skills. Yes parts might include consuming, or passive, but the skills could be mostly envisioned to create, to produce, and to develop.

Coming up soon is the start of our iPad implementation. I am going to have a pilot class with students completing all work on the iPad instead of their laptops. It would be interesting to survey and interview the same teachers again to see if their opinions have changed. I noticed that text production is in the top 7 of 15. The iPad has great potential to produce many different digital texts and for teachers to move away from the essay written on Word. Would this result in a higher regard for text production? Time will tell.

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The AE Inspired Series: Professional Development

The AE Inspired Series 01: Professional Development

by Boahang911

Recently I attended a one day “professional development” workshop that, in my opinion, was unsuccessful professional development (PD). This reflection is one in a series and will focus on the change we can bring about through PD. Successful Professional Development (PD) will share some of the following principles.

Sustenance

Sustained PD certainly offers long-term benefits as opposed to one-off PD sessions which may be forgotten by participants five steps out the door. Integration of the PD content comes through higher order cognitive processing as beliefs may need to be changed, participant attitudes may need to be addressed and knowledge may need to be updated. For effective integration, there should be sustained and periodic PD and quite frankly, the longer the better.

Collaboration

In most cases professional development may be more effective through collaborative practices networking people and resources for a goal. Isolated PD may be effective if an educator has effective support and motivation to sustain themselves. Collaborative practices can help elmininate barriers such as these and promote a community of practice with sharing and contributing to each other’s PD an essential component. Collaboration will probably also increase exposure to a wider range of experiences and diverse information from which to divergently reflect. There is nothing like reflecting-in-action in one’s professional development. Online collaboration could be found on linkedin, facebook or you could create your own network on ning or edmodo. Twitter chats are extremely useful to introduce yourself to like-minded professionals.

Situated Learning

Learning should be contextualized and personalized so that PD is meaningful to each individual participant. Teachers need to see environmental relevance for them, their students, and their classroom. They also need cognitive relevance. Pushing PD which is against teachers’ beliefs or own learning goals is an uphill battle. Likewise delivering content that is already known or includes an insurmountable knowledge gap won’t be effective. Penuel et al. (Penuel, Fishman, Yamaguchi, & Gallagher, 2007) make recommendations from their study that content needs to be localized and tailored to local standards and practice. They also make recommendations to target cognitive factors as these lead to increased changes in practice and knowledge of teachers in their study.

Lave and Wenger’s Situated Learning Theory posits that social interaction, whether intentional or unintentional, is crucial as knowledge can be created and shared within the community (Lave & Wenger, 1990). Smaller groups can offer specificity for members and has been proven as an effective medium of PD for Interactive Whiteboards integration (Triggs & John, 2004). Small in-house communities were formed to address the needs of the teacher participants. See collaboration section for tech housing for communities.

Organization

It is my belief that a bottom-up approach for PD is ideal. Whilst this relies on all educators’ professionalism, there are far more benefits listed above with which a teacher’s own drive will push them forward. Management and administrators need to support this flattened approach by being enablers. They need to ensure basic needs of time, materials, and/or resources are allocated appropriately and there may be a need to keep the PD-flow on task.

With the above components, PD can become a lot more effective. This post focused more on the principles behind the PD rather than the tech used to support the PD. All we need to do is to apply our PD to the teaching and learning that is happening around us every day. We can’t rely on yesterday’s practices to help us prepare for tomorrow’s future. A cliché, I know.

Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1990). Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Penuel, W. R., Fishman, B. J., Yamaguchi, R., & Gallagher, L. P. (2007). What Makes Professional Development Effective? Strategies That Foster Curriculum Implementation. American Educational Research Journal, 44(4), 921-958.

Triggs, P., & John, P. (2004). From transaction to transformation: information and communication technology, professional development and the formation of communities of practice. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 20(6), 426-439.

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