[In 2014, I wrote a post on technology and pedagogy that was recently circulated on Twitter. It reminded me that it is time to update the thinking in that post.]
Simon Breakspear asked the question, “What is an Education That’s Worth Having?” at #uLead15 three months ago. The answer is complex, and context driven, but, I think we have some ideas.
For me, in 2015, that education includes digital literacies.
We often hear educators say that technology is “just a tool”. In some situations, this is true. Technology can be a tool to help students learn traditional content.
But it isn’t true in all cases. Technology is so much more than a tool. Because of technology, we can now exist in both physical and digital spaces.
The competencies required to thrive and succeed in digital spaces are different from those required to succeed in our physical world, and more and more, these two worlds are inseparable.
Our children exist in digital space and physical space seamlessly, except, in some cases, in school (and, except for those children who still have no access to the internet or to devices).
A recent study of the role of Canadian Principals shows that cyberbullying and policy issues related to social media is the #2 concern across the country.
Why is this the case?
I think we have done a huge disservice to our children. We’ve known for a very long time that kids can communicate, access photos and share online, but by prohibiting this behaviour in schools – by taking the stance that it is not okay to use devices in school – we have neglected to teach them the competencies required to be successful citizens in the online environment.
So who will teach them now?
Unless we truly believe that digital literacies are important and that the competencies required to be successful in the future must be taught in school, nothing will change.
We need to ensure that our education leaders have these competencies.
Full immersion in digital spaces is arguably the best way for people to develop these competencies (Doug Belshaw, The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies) and to understand how best to develop them in others. This requires the use of a number of devices (and reliable access to the internet). Deciding what device is best for what purpose is part of the learning. It also requires time to immerse and try and play and network and learn. Educators need these opportunities.
We can’t let our children continue to play online without the knowledge and skills to be safe, to be responsible, and to lead change in the digital environment.
The change begins by building confidence and competence in digital literacies with our education leaders.
Digital Literacies Wiki (Doug Belshaw)
Tweets mentioning @simonbreakspear, #uLead15
On Twitter – #digilit
Tom Whitby: The Myth of Innovation in Education