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Sheffield Hallam University Creative Commons Licence What can teachers do to approach digital literacy issues in schools?

Research shows varying degrees of experience and competence with digital technology amongst children; however, the positive role that teachers can play is clear. International research indicates that educational experiences may be more important than the availability of technological tools in the home (Yan and Ranieri 2010) in predicting high levels of digital competence. Mills (2010) describes the necessity for teachers to provide expert guidance in supporting the development of digital literacy. She proposes a scaffolding model where teachers structure students’ experiences to enable them to eventually work independently.

Strategies for Engaging Children with Digital Literacy

  • Creating educational applications for tools children are already familiar with - for example, class projects using mobile technology such as iPods and mobile phones.
  • Enabling children to engage with a broader audience - blogs are an ideal way of encouraging literacy and enable children to share their work and invite responses.
  • Facilitating links with local organisations – for example creating QR codes to contribute to a local museum.
  • Encouraging children to create digital artefacts – rather than being passive consumers of educational broadcasting, allowing children to make their own films using simple hardware and software.
  • Integrate digital literacy into children’s research skills – using social-bookmarking sites (such as Diigo) for children to form groups and add their own bookmarks and evaluate those of others on a particular research topic.

The widespread use of digital technology amongst children of all ages does not mean they have digital skills appropriate for school use. Teachers have a pivotal role to play in incorporating digital literacy in their work which enables children to access the curriculum through digital tools and develop a critical appreciation of the digital world.

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