In a few days I am going to have a chance to present to our parent body on the subject of Digital Literacy. My presentation is going to be on the heels of a longer presentation about Literacy in general. I am excited about this opportunity and feel like the timing couldn’t be better. We are about to launch our new school intranet based on WordPress, the teachers are all starting to experiment with blogs and the entire ed tech community seems to be buzzing with great thoughts regarding Digital Literacy. Here is the description of what I am supposed to be talking about:
The second part will focus on the digital literacy skills your children should be developing so that they can become safe and productive members of our increasingly digital society. Parents will hear about digital literacy projects Aspengrove School is currently involved with and discuss how parents can help foster these skills at home.
I am finding that my biggest challenge right now is in sorting through all the buzz in my head in order to put together a presentation that will be both eye opening and empowering. My hope is that by writing my thoughts about this presention down as a blog post I will be able to make my own sense out of all the conversations I have been eavesdropping on.
Part 1: Setting the Stage
I have decided that the main message I want parents to leave the presentation with is that the nature of information today has changed and that we need to add some more Literacy tools to their children’s Literary toolbox so that they are able to interact with digital information in constructive ways. To get this message across I plan on doing the following:
- Introduce them to the new nature of information by looking at Wikis and Wikipedia and have a discussion about whether they would trust the information on Wikipedia. After this I will tell them about the study comparing Wikipedia with Encyclopedia Britannica and about Pluto still being a planet in paper based Encyclopedias. I will show them the discussion and history tabs in Wikipedia and introduce them to the idea of learning and knowledge as a conversation, rather than as a static thing.
- Following on this I will give them the URL of the wiki I have created as a resource for them parents21c.wikispaces.com and explain that I hope this will be a place we can start to share resources regarding Digital Literacy.
Next I want to find a good Presentation Zen way to present the following quote (I still need to find the original source, I got it from the newliteracy wiki), which I want to use to illustrate how radically the nature if information is changing.
In 2006, 5 million gigabytes of new information were added to the world and of that only .01% was printed.
Following on this quote I want to transition to the idea that the way information has changed is having a dramatic impact on the world we are trying to prepare their children for. I like the following quote,
For the first time in history, our job as educators is to prepare our students for a future that we cannot clearly describe.
This next part is the tricky one. I want to use this idea that with the future being so uncertain Literacy (both traditional and digital) is vitally important if their children are going to be able to function and participate in the information rich world around them. I like this quote from Marshall McLuhan about the ‘rear-view mirror effect’,
We see the world through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future.
I want the parents to come away from this presentation willing to stop looking backwards at some of the ways that they learned and be able to think openly about the new things that their kids need to learn to be successful in the future.
Part 2: Sharing a Framework for moving forward
I have to admit that while I have been fascinated by the current online conversations on Literacy and documents like the Jenkins White Paper and the MacArthur New Media study I have had a hard time figuring out how to turn this conversation into a working plan I can use in my classroom. So instead I have decided to introduce Digital Literacy to the parents with this graphic.
I am comfortable with these three different aspects of Digital Literacy because they are all incorporated in my current curriculum to some extent and as such I have relevant examples I can share with the parents. I am not sure that the Venn Diagram is the best representation, but I like that it shows overlap between the different skills.
Access and Critically Analyse Online Information
I plan to introduce this aspect of Digital Literacy by sharing some of Alan November’s work. In particular I have found that the REAL strategy he recommends is the most effective tool I have found for quickly determining whether you can trust the information on a website.
To make sure that the parents really understand each of these steps AND the importance of being able to verify the accuracy of information online I will take them through an evaluation of www.martinlutherking.org.
This will be the most hands on part of the presentation and I am a little worried about the trade off between the time it will take and the benefit but I think it is important that people going away feeling like they have learned something they can use right away. To that effect I am also thinking of taking a minute to show them how to toggle SafeSearch in Google.
Engage in Safe and Constructive Social Networking
This is a part of the presentation that I am really looking forward to because it is the piece I have been thinking about a lot lately as a result of my experiences in the Digiteen project. The message that I want parents to get from this part of the presentation is that they can`t expect that their children just know how to be safe online because they seem so tech savvy, and that they best way to keep them safe is to engage them in conversation about their online experiences. One of my experiences in the Digiteen Ning involved coming across innapropriate behaviour in a chat room conversation. My first reaction was to just delete the chat and exert my teacher “control”, which is I think what a lot of parents want to know “how do I control my childs internet use”? While there are certainly a number of things a parent can do like making sure the family computer is in a public space in the end they will very likely be out maneuvered if what they want to do is try and control the situation. This is illustrated really well in some of the Growing Up Online videos produced by PBS.
On the other hand the Digiteen Ning provided me with the tools to set up an asynchronous online discussion about Digital Etiquette as a response to the chat room behaviour and I was absolutely amazed at the number and quality of the responses I recieved. Similarly I think that for the parents in my presentation to really keep their children safe online they have to take and interest in their online lives and make sure the channels of communication are open.
I would love to wax eloquent about the power of Personal Learning Networks but I think that will have to wait until another time. Still I feel that there is a piece missing here. If I am going to talk about Social Networking as a part of Digital Literacy then being able to learn from a network and create a network are an important piece. Maybe I can give them Vicki Davis’s latest article in Educause. I am also thinking of handing out Will Richardson’s article from Educational Leadership entitled ‘Footprints in the Digital Age‘ in an effort to get them thinking about managing their children’s digital footprint instead of trying to ignore it.
Know How to Create and Share Knowledge
I am thinking about showing them this video on the New Media Literacies as a way to show that being able to interact with digital information and communicating what you know by producing more content is another aspect of literacy. I’m still not sure if this is the best video, my other option is Learning to Change – Changing to learn.
For this section I want to emphasise that the PROCESS of creation is as if not more important than the technical skills involved. I will talk briefly about the IB MYP Design Cycle and how I am using it in my Technology classes and then I think I will talk about Chris Craft’s Life Round Here 2009 Project which my grade 6′s will be participating in this year. I might show one of the Photostories they made last year.
Part 3: What’s Next.
Finally I will wrap up by encouraging them to visit the Wiki I have created. I am also going to start a blog on our private intranet in which I will highlight projects being done at the school that include Digital Literacy skills.
And that’s it. If you have actually read this far all I can say is WOW. I would really appreciate comments and feedback of all varieties as I really want this presentation to be a stepping stone on the way to our school becoming a real 21st century school.