In today’s educational environment, it is common to hear scholars talk about the importance of teaching students to work alongside digital mediums. We have written about it in various articles. However, even though we’re all aware of how a digital understanding is important, most people tend to focus on digital skills instead of digital literacy. The difference between the two may seem slight until you look more closely. Taking social media as an example, digital skills describe how to tweet or post to Instagram while digital literacy is about educating students why social platforms are more beneficial to them than traditional or private forums, particularly for film related content. Digital literacy is therefore not only teaching students how to use technology but also how to use it in order to reach its full potential.
Maha Bali, an associate professor of practice and the Center of Learning and Teaching at the American University in Cairo explains that adopting a curriculum that focuses on digital literacy means teaching progressively rather than sequentially which allows students to grasp concepts and lessons more easily over time. When approaching digital literacy with students, you must first show them the variety they have to choose from, informing them of the ins and outs of each individual option. Once they’re aware of the choices they have they can make an informed and literate choice as to which will suit them best for the shot or story they’re trying to tell.
However, deep understanding of new technologies doesn’t make for a literate student. In order for students to fully comprehend the digital platforms available to us, they must also understand the risks. You may find that in teaching students, particularly younger ones, that they often don’t see the full spectrum of responsibility that comes with the digital age, particularly with regards to social media. As the current generation of students has been raised with social media, they can be blind to the adverse effects that come along with embracing digital technology. You must therefore clearly inform students that they should be careful what they post online and also teach them to understand whether their day to day platforms and profiles are what they want the world to associate with them professionally.
You can teach digital literacy alongside teaching students digital skills and how to use the technology that has so become a part of today’s film industry. By teaching certain skills alongside digital literacy, students should be able to make fully informed decisions to develop a well-rounded understanding of the digital world, essential to life after their studies.
Balancing students’ exposure to technology in the classroom with considerations for safety, equal access and appropriateness is key to successful digital boosts to learning. Another essential but often ill-considered aspect of the mix is what parents want and expect for their children and the importance of introducing new methods of teaching with their full support.
The first step is communicating clearly what digital tools can offer over traditional teaching methods, and being able to counter concerns parents may have over safety. Once parents are on board with the many benefits, suggesting how they can support their children further on this front will help your digital efforts considerably.
Digital technologies are an essential part of learning today. Students are using them to connect with each other, to learn new skills and pursue their interests further than has ever been possible. In particular, learning can increasingly happen anywhere at anytime, not just in the classroom, and students can connect with others outside their school and even country! Access to a huge range of new resources as well as experts not available locally can make learning a far freer and richer experience and literally open whole new worlds to hungry young minds.
To support the digital direction classrooms are moving in, onboard parents can offer essential encouragement and practical help in a number of ways. First, when parents buy their children smartphones or tablets, its worth checking with the school what their BYOD (bring your own device) policies are and how well new devices will fit in with exist digital infrastructure. It’s often the school’s responsibility to provide device access to students without their own. Home internet access can help with homework and self-directed learning, but some schools also offer ‘after-hours’ online access for families who don’t have internet at home.
Finally, safety is the subject many parents express deepest misgivings about, and fortunately, they can play a leading role in ensuring their children are not exposed to the worst the internet has to offer. Solid advice for parents is to be involved, find out what your child is doing online, both at school and home, and have honest discussions about digital safety. NSPCC Online Safety [https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/online-safety/] is a great place to start, as they promote confident, safe and responsible use of online technologies.
Understanding parents’ hopes and doubts about digital technologies in our classrooms and syncing your own efforts and communication with those will provide the biggest boost to your digital classroom initiatives, with your students reaping all the benefits from new learning practices and possibilities.
Does the thought that your students are a leap ahead of you digitally worry you? Do the mysteries of their Snapchatting and Tweeting baffle and fill you with concern that you’re missing out on the conversation?… and also missing out on a whole new host of eLearning software to aid and enhance your teaching?
In the next 3 minutes we hope to assure you that there’s no better time to start than now. That access to teaching apps and understanding their potential can help boast your teaching, re-engage your students and save you time. Finally, its worth mentioning why digital literacy for teachers and parents is an effective contribution to keeping children safely online generally.
Training teachers to become digitally literate is something Helen Mathieson,CEO of a multi-academy trust in Wiltshire believes in strongly, insisting that all teaching professionals need to have “high-level skills in digital literacy”. “Every aspect of teaching and learning is embedded in the ability to use technology to enhance understanding and broaden horizons,” she says, adding, “Any teacher who is not digitally literate would suffer by comparison in terms of the reactions, responses and engagement of the students.”
Sadie Philips, a newly qualified Inner London school teacher suggests: “Twenty-first century literacy has evolved, with a broader range of devices such as smart phones and tablets that give way to different forms of expression and levels of interaction. A digitally literate teacher will possess a range of skills to navigate this connected world and have knowledge of the basic principles of computing devices and networks, as well as cyber security and looking after your digital footprint.”
If you have a smartphone, you already have all the hardware you’ll need to dive in with education apps for teachers and trainers. One of the major benefits of the smartphone revolution has been that all the computing power we need for 80% of our requirements is already in our pockets, which has transformed how we interact online and is transforming learning as well.
Here are some tips to help you engage and start today, even if they are your first digital steps, these will get you going..
1. create digital spring boards and talking points out of simple-to-use tools like Powerpoint or Keynote – embedding video is always a good way to engage students as well.
2. Being conscious of your own digital footprint and leading by example, by not being scared of social media, and introducing its potential in the classroom when appropriate.
3. Follow key people on Twitter, and like their Facebook pages as well. This can include well known filmmakers, actors, and educators – each will invite you to an up to the minute discussion on your subjects!
4. Check out the teaching apps and increasingly the mVLE (mobile virtual learning environment) options [link to Teachers landing page] available for you and your students, to share and track the engagement with everything your course requires.
5. Search for online communities interested in your subject, try especially to look outside the UK, the most interesting ideas can come from all corners of the globe.
6. Start your own elearning page and use it, either on the school block or within a VLE document.