In the years ahead, digital fluency will become a prerequisite for obtaining jobs, participating meaningfully in society, and learning throughout a lifetime. (Resnick, 2002, p. 33) [via White, 2013]”
Whether you are renewing a prescription, communicating with others, or working across nearly any key employment disciplines you care to name, it has never been more important for people to have the knowledge, skills and dispositions to navigate online spaces confidently and successfully. We call this ability ‘digital fluency’ and it encompasses an array of competencies and understandings that are needed for us have access to opportunities in our networked, digital societies today and in the future.
This outcome of being digitally fluent relates to issues of responsibility, equity and access. We all need to be able to fully participate in a digitally-enabled education system and in an increasingly digitised society. If we work with fluency in the way we use technologies, we are able to keep ourselves safe online and take full advantage of life chance opportunities such as being able to apply for work, manage our finances, or be part of our local community.
Digital fluency can also be considered as part of a broader set of competencies related to ‘21st Century’ learning. Being able to manipulate technologies so we can create and navigate information successfully is supported by our ability to work collaboratively, solve real-world problems creatively, pursue our own learning goals and so on.
Broadly speaking, digital fluency is a combination of these three concepts:
What might this look like in practice? A useful example of a curriculum context in which we might deliberately foster the competencies of digital fluency can be seen in this example from Makauri School, in which Year 6 created digital mementos to “preserve the stories of Makauri’s past students". This kind of story encompasses deliberate teaching of technical skills (making websites and QR codes), literacies (story-creation through multiple media; critical creation of new information) and social competence (the value of others’ stories, heritage and culture in the local community).
The aim, then, of becoming digitally fluent is for people to be able to act as successful citizens in whatever contexts they choose for themselves. Our role as educators is to deliberately design pathways from early childhood through to tertiary and beyond that support these developing fluencies in ways that make sense to the learners. The recent report - Students, Computers and Learning: Making the Connection (OECD, 2015) - highlights the importance of bridging the digital divide, not leaving the development of digital fluency to chance.
The skills, understandings and competencies that comprise digital fluency are best considered as underpinning supports that weave throughout curricula. In many ways, here in New Zealand, the Key Competencies in the New Zealand Curriculum offer a helpful way to think about a framework for fostering digital fluency as part of learning. Similarly, the four principles of Te Whāriki can be considered through a digital fluency lens while the Te Marautanga o Aotearoa encourages communities to frame a graduate profile that might include digital fluency as an over-arching goal for ākonga.
We know that ‘adding on’ modules or skill-based ticklist to work though do not effectively offer ways to foster digital fluency. We also know learning how to effectively and safely manage technologies cannot be achieved solely through technical means (e.g. filtering) or prohibition (e.g. denying people access to technologies). Instead, a proactive approach to designing learning pathways, that balances preventative approaches with application of skills and understandings in meaningful contexts, is the preferable approach.
NetSafe and the Ministry of Education remind us that we need to offer “opportunities for students to be involved in decisions about the management of digital technology at the school [and develop] a pro-social culture of digital technology use” in school, alongside our communities [Source]
One helpful framework for thinking about planning approaches to digital fluency development through learning can be found in the description of how key competencies integrate into effective curriculum design > http://nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz/Key-competencies/About.
Broadly, this reminds us that digital fluency approaches should:
Towards Digital Fluency (NZ Govt) PDF
The digital environment has the power to transform teaching and learning in our schools. We’re committed to taking full advantage of the opportunity to become a world leading education system through changes to our infrastructure, practices and pedagogy. The range of initiatives for Digital Technologies in Education will ensure all New Zealand schools are equipped with state-of-the-art infrastructure, teachers get the support and resources they need to be digitally fluent, and every student benefits from the advantages of digital technologies for learning.
3 things you should know about digital literacies
In this video post, Steve Wheeler explores why literacies go beyond and deeper than skills and competencies, enabling users to assimilate into unfamiliar and challenging new cultures and environments.
What kind of global citizens are teachers creating?
A news article that invites educators to question their own perspectives as global citizens (The Guardian).
Towards digital fluency
Slideshare presentation by A. Couros (2012).
In this EDtalk recorded at ULearn14, e-learning facilitator Esther Casey describes the things that educators could be doing to support learners to become digitally literate. Esther talks about the need to foster critical thinking, collaborative and creative learning, and ways that students can use other people’s knowledge in respectful ways as they create their own new knowledge.
Professional Learning Programmes
CORE’s professional learning options put emphasis on embedding change in practice, allowing you to implement visible change in your school/kura/ECE. They explore a mix of rich background material, engage in practical activities and connect you to a professional learning community.
Modern Learning Practice: Rethinking learners, learning, and teachers
See how learning is organised in a modern learning environment, including uncovering ideas about modern learners and how they relate to teaching. This course is intended for those passionate about teaching to explore new strategies and tools, investigate the transition from theory to practice, and discover the complexities and rewards of teaching in the 21st century.
Option 1 begins 2 May 2016, and option 2 begins 25 July.
Resources and guidance for educators from NetSafe, a ‘tech positive’ organisation that emphasises the benefits of online participation to internet users.