For Better Digital Literacy

By @APendris

For Better Digital Literacy

By @APendris

An essay on the needed push for more education on digital literacy, and a possible way to implement it in the real world.

Chapter 1

Alex Pendris

Mrs. White

English IV

8 February 2019

Abstract

This paper’s goal is to show the importance of technology education and digital literacy in both students and teachers alike. The aim is to show that the quality of technology education needs to be improved, and should be taken as a crucial part of the education of anyone. This is accomplished by providing evidence that digital literacy is important, including multiple studies on the effects on students, and also the effects on teachers. The need to improve is also demonstrated, and what methods should go along with that are also discussed, such as the method of analyzing students’ learning styles to more effectively teach them about technology. Technology is important, and a part of nearly every person’s life, and thus should be counted as so in schools. However, many people do not fully understand the mechanisms behind technology, the understanding of which is becoming increasingly more important to know. The push for better education on use of technology and the general understanding of it could be accomplished by speaking to the leaders of school districts, such as principals, superintendents, or another high authority. Speaking to teachers would also be useful to both gain support and have more concrete influence. One person cannot run an entire movement, so the help of others of more power would be crucial. One potential solution locally is to have on a small scale is to have some sort of digital literacy course built into something like CREW, slowly teaching students more without having to thrust it upon them suddenly. On a large scale, incorporating technology education more into various different courses would be useful.    

Digital literacy has become a crucial part of the lives of nearly every human being on the planet Earth. Nearly every human, from every demographic, uses computers or electronic technology in one way or another. For hundreds of years, humans have improved upon and expanded on ways to automate processes, and better communication between them. Computers are the ultimate result of these desires. Computers and other electronic devices allow communication over vast distances, the ability to automate processes humans cannot do, and much, much more. The unfortunate problem is that many do not know how to truly use technology to the fullest, even though that knowledge could potentially greatly benefit their lives. With a society so dependent on these devices, it follows that the users should be more educated on how to use them, to improve their lives, and the lives of those around them. As a result of the lack of knowledge of so many, it is clear that there needs to be some change to improve the digital literacy of the populace.

Digital literacy is very important to understanding anything about the modern world. An incredibly large number of people communicate using digital devices. If not by phone or text, messages will be communicated through various social media outlets. Understanding many world events generally involves extensive use of technology. Because of how widespread electronics are, many children have been raised with digital technology as something that they could easily access, and use. A misconception is that these children that grow up with technology are actually skilled in using it. There is evidence that “while digital natives have familiarity with technology, it does not mean that they do not have misunderstandings with the use of technology,” which is a serious issue in today’s society (Neumann 1). One can be surrounded by technology but never be motivated to use it to its fullest extent. Information literacy is largely dependent now on digital literacy, because such a large part of the information that is used comes from digital sources, including the Internet. Plagiarism can completely ruin a student or writer’s credibility, and even many native technology users still have not learned not to plagiarize other works. Neumann emphasizes the importance of teaching students about plagiarism in her article, and s (4). Finding reliable sources has also been stated to be difficult for many students, native users or otherwise (Neumann 3). While the information literacy is an important aspect of digital literacy, other aspects are also important.

  Digital literacy is important in terms of digital citizenship as well as information literacy. Digital citizenship is when citizens involve themselves in society, politics, or similar using digital means. Digital literacy is one of the most important factors of digital citizenship, and “can positively reinforce citizen participation in online and offline” activities (Kim and Choi 4). The digital aspect of citizenship is becoming increasingly more important, as more and more people involve themselves in politics through digital media. Largely known political figures often use social media to disseminate information and messages they wish to give the people they are attempting to influence. A person that practices digital citizenship is able to access and influence the world around them with greater capacity, as being able to instantly contact thousands of people at once if not more has demonstrated itself to be extremely effective for many politicians and activists. 

  Understanding how to use technology is very important not only for students, but also for teachers as well. If a school implements use of new technology, teachers also have to learn how to use it along with the students. This can cause issues, as teachers are not “necessarily always learning to deal with this complex diversity” (Hasse 11). If teachers have to learn how to use technology along with the students that also use it, it makes it difficult for a student to ask a teacher for assistance, as both the student and the teacher are new users. In a Danish study, the confusion from the constantly changing technological devices used in education caused the equipment to be ‘underused’ as a result of the lack of comprehension about its use.

  Some may argue that there is no need to improve upon the systems already in place to teach digital literacy to students, but that argument is nonsensical. Young children do not automatically comprehend technology or understand how to use it without being taught in some way first. Young students need to learn these skills, and have them reinforced if they are to retain them, as with all learning. Technology skills are just as if not more critical to learn than other skills learned during one’s education, and so should be treated as such. 

  To address the issue of lacking digital literacy, one must first address the issue of differences in learning style for students. Students are more successful academically when they learn in environments that match their own methods of learning (Avsec and Szewczyk-Zakrzewska 2). As such, it is important to know how the students that will be taught more regarding digital literacy learn beforehand. Self-motivated learners are more likely to have more digital literacy already when compared to other types of learners, so focus on them should be lessened. Implementing splitting students up into learning-style groups is difficult to accomplish on a large scale, but it is certainly possible.

  More effective digital literacy teaching programs could be implemented by adding or using a mandatory class already designed to bring students closer to one another and teach them important non-academic information. Examples of such classes are homerooms and the class CREW implemented under the Expeditionary Learning framework. Simple changes to these classes could be made to give students the opportunity to familiarize themselves with digital devices in a more direct way then many usually experience. It may be possible to implement dividing students into groups based on learning style, either on the scale of classes or internally. After the divide is in some way created, the course could then educate students on many important and useful aspects of technology. With a class implemented in this way, many students that would otherwise have an incomplete grasp of the effective and proper use of technology would become much more capable of being a functioning member of society and have a greater understanding of the world through it. 

  As a result of the incredible importance of effective use of technology, it seems clear that a system needs to be put in place to aid the development of this educational field. Digital literacy is crucial to being a part of society, and influence the world. Thus, it must be taught to a higher degree, either by using the proposed method here or by another equally effective system. Educational organizations should implement these systems to improve the lives of their students, and in turn the lives of the people of their country.

Works Cited

Avsec, Stanislav, and Agnieszka Szewczyk-Zakrzewska. “Predicting Academic Success and 

Technological Literacy in Secondary Education: A Learning Styles Perspective.” International Journal of Technology & Design Education, vol. 27, no. 2, June 2017, pp. 233–250. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s10798-015-9344-x.

Hasse, Cathrine. “Technological Literacy for Teachers.” Oxford Review of Education, 

vol. 43, no. 3, June 2017, pp. 365–378. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/03054985.2017.1305057.

Kim, Minjeong, and Dongyeon Choi. “Development of Youth Digital Citizenship Scale and 

Implication for Educational Setting.” Journal of Educational Technology & Society, vol. 21, no. 1, Jan. 2018, pp. 155–171. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eft&AN=127424788&authtype=cpid.

Neumann, Crystal. “Teaching Digital Natives: Promoting Information Literacy 

and Addressing Instructional Challenges.” Reading Improvement, vol. 53, no. 3, Fall 2016, pp. 101–106. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=118505993&authtype=cpid.  

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