Who Needs To Be “Digitally Literate”?
Students? Parents? Teachers? Administrators?
But which of the people listed above do you think is the least "literate" with digital resources and technology?
If you said "administrators" you might be right, and I wish you weren't. The oldest members of our learning communities are understandably usually the least literate with the newest technology and digital tools for teaching and learning. Being the most experienced in education understandably comes with time. This means the most experienced and oldest educators are more likely to find themselves in administrative roles. There's nothing wrong with that. This blog is not intended to say that there's a problem with older educators running schools, districts, and even state organizations.
Who would you say is the most digitally literate in our school communities? Probably the students. Maybe the youngest teachers? Either way it's the people who have spend the greatest portion of their literate lives in a digital environment. By default this would be our youngest community members. They're the most digitally literate, but also the least experienced. Could this be a bigger problem?
As President of UCET, an organization set up by educators to support the use of educational technology, it's hard to believe that I'm going to say this, but the problem is a combination of both. The problem is that the people with the least amount of experience or understanding of how to best use technology are deciding on how millions of dollars are being spent on the people who are the most tech savvy. As a result, millions of dollars are being wasted on educational technology.
This needs to stop, and I have a simple solution.
Before you write a grant, allocate money towards buying equipment, or make any plans to implement a new piece of software or subscribe to an expensive online service…. talk to the students. The students are the ones we are preparing for a world full of technology. They are the reason each of us became an educator. And more importantly, there's a very strong chance that they know more about the devices, websites, and services than we give them credit for!
Unless we are willing to spend the time with students to find out what they need, and spend the money helping teachers learn how to use the technology correctly, then there is no point in spending any money at all on devices that won't get used but will get outdated.
To find more information about "Digital Literacy", check out http://digitalliteracy.us/
Let's stop spending money on technology, and start spending money on students.