The Importance of Digital Literacy In 21st Century Education
Oct 01, 2015
Digital literacy plays a vital role in defining a child’s ability to succeed both in school and throughout their lives. This is an inherent aspect of 21st century education, which is the spine of our educational pedagogy here at World Academy.We focus on applying innovative teaching methods that arm our students with the skillsets they need to succeed throughout their education and as they enter the workplace. For us, this concept is as practical as it is progressive.
Some educators still feel that we live in an ‘age of distraction’ and that students must be pried away from their devices if they are ever going to focus long enough to learn. However, there’s a strong body of evidence to the contrary.
How We Integrate Technology, Responsibly
At World Academy, our Technology Program’s focus is to use technology to enhance, enrich, and augment classroom learning with active and engaging learning activities. This occurs across all grade levels. In terms of communication and collaboration – an intrinsic part of 21st century education – iPads actually bring students together to accomplish shared goals. For instance, our K-8 students can use iPads for all subjects, including motion games, publishing movies, and even science dissections.
We also use this technology for testing purposes. The NWEA testing measures student growth and learning needs and identifies ways for us to accelerate the learning process for each individual student. These tests are distributed using iPads that automatically feed into the NWEA system, allowing our teachers to aggregate results quickly and then apply useful, evidence-based lessons to accelerate academic growth and achievement for our students.
After the results of these tests are uploaded, a customized enrichment program is created for each individual student. Not only are we able to gain applicable insights into how to cater to each student’s learning style, students are enhancing their digital aptitude by familiarizing themselves with this technology.
Putting the Technology To Use
Almost all of our students attend computer class for 45 minutes per week. While this is not an aberration from the mandatory curriculum at many other schools, we are lucky enough to offer resources that many others cannot – or will not. These technologies include Smart Boards (or Mimios) and a recently acquired pair of 3D printers.
Have you witnessed a classroom where a Smart Board or 3D printer is in use? The interaction with these devices is not only active but entertaining, communicative, and collaborative. Teachers may also use tablets to record children’s interviews with members of their community, other students, or teachers. This enhances communicative skills and bolsters the student’s confidence in public speaking.
The ways to use technology as a tool for education are nearly endless! And, as with our 3D printer training program, students can even take an active role in identifying the best way to utilize these tools.
Give Them What They Want
If students’ eyes are glued to a screen, it only makes sense to populate those devices with edifying, useful activities. Instead of assuming that focus is split between education and technology, we believe that these two can be the perfect complement to one another.
In a past blog, we discussed just how important a role technology plays in how students learn. A study from CDW-G – a leading provider of integrated information technology solutions to over 250,000 businesses, schools, and government organizations – found that 94 percent of students say that they use technology to complete their homework. If this is true, it only makes sense to integrate these tools into curriculum to better serve the students that are using them.
Why see this as a problem when instead it can be a solution? Children are fascinated by technology, so when they learn through technology it’s equal parts entertainment and education. This provides a unique opportunity to teach them the skills they’ll need without monotonous lessons that are unable to keep their focus.
Technology Actually Improves Focus
“Executive function” skills – the ability to control impulses, make plans, follow instructions, multi-task and stay focused – are learned skills not inherent in children at birth. We must learn these skills to thrive in the ever-connected world that we live in today. Teaching digital literacy is an assured way of accomplishing this.
There have been strong advocates for infusing technology into the classroom far before the turn of the 21st century. The Fred Rogers Center, created by the well-known host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, was a strong proponent of introducing technology into the classroom. After all, these are the tools that students will use for the rest of their lives.
As technology is further incorporated into the classroom setting, educators have the ability to expand children’s learning and enhance their 21st century skills. When done correctly, educators can use technology as a way to encourage learning and bring experiences to children in a way that they will embrace, enjoy, and benefit from for the rest of their lives.