Friday, 2 November 2012

Digital Fluency

In the information age, it is becoming increasingly important that students have the literacy skills to effectively and efficiently locate, analyze, and use information that is current, reliable, and relevant. Information literate students understand how knowledge is organized, how to find information, and how to remix information in such a way that others can learn from them.
This month, The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project released How Teens Do Research in the Digital World.The study renders mixed verdicts about students’ research habits and the impact of technology on their studies. According to their survey of teachers, the Internet has opened up a vast world of information for today’s students, yet students’ digital literacy skills have yet to catch up. The teachers believed that digital search tools have a mostly positive impact on student research, they had serious concerns about student distraction, their use of a narrower range of resources, their expectations of quick answers, and their difficulty finding credible sources.
Despite viewing the overall impact of today’s digital environment on students’ research habits as “mostly positive,” the teachers rated the research skills of their students as modest. A focus on digital literacy was identified as a pressing need for today's students. ISTE's National Education Technology Standards- NETS for Students 2007
    Research and Information Fluency
    Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information. Students:
    a. plan strategies to guide inquiry.
    b. locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media.
    c. evaluate and select information sources and digital tools based on the appropriateness to specific tasks.
    d. process data and report results.
But what does this look like in the classroom?

Perhaps it needs to start with a critical look at curricular practice - an examination of pertinent practice, purposeful practice, and the essentials for our learners. Stephen Wilmarth (2009) states that technology is altering the very nature of pedagogy. As educators, we cannot expect to "think the same" about teaching when the act of teaching is shifting dramatically as a result of technology and access to information. Tim Tyson (2009) concurs by stating that effort needs to shift the culture to one that "makes learning irresistible".
If we want students to effectively and critically navigate, evaluate and create information using a range of digital technologies, we need to transform our schools into learning organizations based on pursuits that are worthy, relevant, and student-led.

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