Digital Fluency

Digital fluency is the concept of technical, literal and competent knowledge of a technological medium (Spencer, 2015). As i understand, it is a very hard topic to define. It can be broken down into two terms, digital literacy and digital fluency. Digital literacy is the basic understanding of a technology. Digital fluency is a more complex understanding of the technology, and of how to use it in more ways than just its original intention (The SociaLens, 2011).

That being said, i understand digital fluency  is very similar to gaining an understanding of any tool. Its hard to gauge exactly how fluent someone is in any given technology without comparing that ability directly with someone else. Because of this, i feel that the only way to improve digital fluency if by a combination of research and practise.

There are problems with digital fluency in a classroom setting. We live in an increasingly technologically advanced world, and as I’m currently learning, more and more things are required to be completed with more advanced technology. These skills are important for students to acquire, but as yet there is no structured way in which to do this (White, 2013). I believe it ties in directly with the issue of the digital divide, in that, students are expected to improve their digital fluency, yet do not necessarily have access to the technology when they are not at school.

In the last eight weeks i have learnt that my own digital fluency has regressed over the past ten years. It seems that continuous development is the key to improvement. You can’t expect students to be digitally fluent, as long as there is disparity in the amount of technology they have available to them. But you can help them, in the future, digital fluency will be thought of in much the same way as people view literacy across subjects such as mathematics and language.

The Digital Divide

The digital divide is the term used for describing the difference in the amount of information available, and the access to technology between certain people (“The Digital Divide,” 2016, para. 1). I understand that the digital divide can refer to many people of differing cultures, ages, and socioeconomic backgrounds. This is something that i feel i have always had a general understanding of, however i have now learnt how big an impact it can have on students in a learning environment.

I’ve learnt that children expect to have a very technology focused schooling life, one that mirrors their life at home (Howell, 2012). In my opinion this only helps in broadening the divide, and exacerbating problems associated with it, as children without as much access to technology outside of school will tend to feel alienated and left behind.

While i understand it is important that the Digital divide is recognised, and that there are a number of initiatives put in place to attempt to bridge the gap. Such as Google’s ambitious project to design weather balloons capable of carrying internet signals (Teller, 2016). It seems to me that technology is growing at a rate faster than we can make access available to certain demographics. Because of this i feel the need to strike a balance between the amount of time students spend learning through various technological channels.

I’ve personally learnt that a divide can be developed by sheer will. In my own case, i have plenty of access to technology, and the funds to use it, however my lack of desire to use it has left me significantly behind my peers. I think there it a lot of work to do to bridge the digital divide. I’m not sure if it can ever be completely bridged, the best case is to be able to lessen the gap between those with and those without.

Being a Digital Curator

Digital curation is the collecting, managing and maintaining of data for future use (Yakel, 2007). Anyone can be a digital curator, while some educational institutions offer certificates and extended learning in the field, the term itself can apply to anyone, anytime that is collecting information. In fact, many people are digital curators everyday, those that share things via Instagram, Twitter, and other various social media mediums are all participating in a form of digital curation.

Recently i have been curating two websites to use as a teaching tool. It has opened my eyes to the pros and cons of certain platforms. My recent experiences has been curating on Pinterest and Storify. Pinterest is an increasingly popular social media site used by over 100 million people world-wide (Smith, 2016). I have found Pinterest to be a digital curator in itself, selecting certain pages, photos and videos, to add to my feed based on information i provide as to what I’m looking for. Because of this i felt restricted to the information i could gather as well as the format in which i could deliver it to the classroom.

I then tried Storify, a digital curation tool that, in my opinion, is far more conducive for creating a page to use in a classroom setting. It allows for the collection of articles, videos and pictures across various platforms all over the internet, from a search within the website itself. I found it much easier to collect data this way, in comparison to Pinterest. What i found most important, was the ability organise the data, and add text in between. This helps to add context to the reader, something i think would be very important when used as a teaching tool.

This process taught me that digital curating is a powerful tool not just as a teaching aid, but also as a means of communication. However I also think that the way in which the data gets presented is particularly important in a classroom setting.

References

Howell, J. (2012). Teaching with ICT. South Melbourne, Victoria; Oxford University             Press.

Smith, C. (2016) By the Numbers: 270 Amazing Pinterest Statistics. Retrieved
http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/pinterest-stats/

Spencer, K. (2015). What is a Digital World? Retrieved from http://blog.core-ed.org/blog/2015/10/what-is-digital-fluency.html

Teller, A. (2016) TED Talk, The Unexpected Benefit of Celebrating Failure. Retreived from https://www.ted.com/talks/astro_teller_the_unexpected_benefit_of_celebrating_failure

The Digital Divide, ICT and Broadband Internet. (2016) Retrieved from http://www.internetworldstats.com/links10.htm

The SociaLens. (2011). Digital Fluency – Two Levels of Skill. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgaWWp75K64

Smith, G. (2013) Digital Fluency : skills necessary for learning in the digital age. Retrieved from http://research.acer.edu.au/digital_learning/6/

Yakel, E. (2007) Digital Curation. OCLC Systems and Services 335-340