With the talk of introducing computer science in schools, there has been the argument that we should be developing learners' digital literacy skills either as well as, or instead of, hard programming skills, etc - after all, and as Josie Fraser articulately suggests, Computer Science is not Digital Literacy. Doug Belshaw continues in a similar vein suggesting we 'Resurrect Computer Science, but don't kill off ICT'.
With the talk of Digital Literacy fresh in mind, I revisited Guy Claxton's (2007) article in the British Journal of Educational Studies - 'Expanding young people's capacity to learn'. Claxton suggests 'learning to learn' is a primary aim of education, and quotes the likes of Sir Richard Livingstone (1941) in that;
"The test of successful education is not the amount of knowledge that pupils take away from school, but their appetite to know and their capacity to learn".Livingstone's premise is inexorably intertwined with Sarah Knight's take on digital literacy - "those capabilities that equip an individual for living, learning and working in a digital society". Similarly, Steve Wheeler suggests we redesign learning in a digital world, encouraging transferrable skills such as 'adaptability, change management, creative problem solving, collaboration and a range of digital literacies that will enable them (learners) to meet any challenges head on'.
So far, we're all singing from the same hymn sheet, right?
Now, of the various blogs and articles, Helen Beetham's post 'Design or be Designed For' is one of the few to link learners' (digital) literacies with those of the teachers, suggesting it is (or at least should be) an integral aspect of their professionalism. After all, with the talk of developing digital literacies in pupils/students, it must surely require a certain prerequisite of such skills within/of/by the teacher.
What's important here, is that I don't believe these digital literacies should be packaged into Computer Science or ICT classes alone, but rather embedded as 'epistemic culture change', i.e. discussed, understood, and systemically strengthened (or infused) throughout the education system, and as an integral part of all subjects.
So exactly what skills/competencies (or whatever other word one might apply) would be required on the part of all teaching staff then?
My thoughts on this took me back to the controversial debate that won Edublog'a Most Influential post of 2007 by Karl Fisch - Is it ok to be a technologically illiterate teacher? Fisch hits the nail on the head by suggesting;
In order to teach it, we have to do it. How can we teach this to kids, how can we model it, if we aren’t literate ourselves? You need to experience this, you need to explore right along with your students. You need to experience the tools they’ll be using in the 21st century, developing your own networks in parallel with your students. You need to demonstrate continual learning, lifelong learning – for your students, or you will continue to teach your students how to be successful in an age that no longer exists.Indeed there is something very 'Ken Robinson' about this statement, but nevertheless on point. Given that roughly 90% of UK jobs require some IT competency, teachers should not only be 'digitally literate' (whatever that may mean), but also practice effective use of technology in their teaching.
So what should all teachers 'know'? What should all teachers be able to 'do'? And do you agree with Fisch's most controversial statement;
'If a teacher today is not technologically literate - and is unwilling to make the effort to learn more - it's equivalent to a teacher 30 years ago who didn't know how to read and write'.Answers on a postcard (or in the comments to the post)...
This work by Peter Reed is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.