It is important when considering broad definitions of digital literacy (see Chapter 2. About Digital Literacy) to consider a number of variables that come into play when these are translated into school settings. These variables include social and cultural influences, historical practices, economic pressures and political control in terms of statutory guidelines. This section prepares for a more detailed examination of the digital literacy in the school context by the means of some fundamental questions:
- What is meant by digital literacy in school settings?
- How has digital literacy developed within our curriculum?
UK education in schools currently follows a predominantly subject-based curriculum, specified under the statutory framework of the National Curriculum. The need for schools to engage and integrate digital technology into their curricula and organisation is recognised by teachers, politicians and industry (BECTA 2010; Clarke 2012) and several literature reviews have already explored this area (Torgenson and Zhu 2003; Hague and Williamson 2009; Newman 2009; Burnett 2010).
For over two decades, the UK education system has experienced a succession of far-reaching reforms and these reforms are set to continue with the advent of a revised National Curriculum due to be launched in 2014. Digital literacy has often been central to those reforms through National Curriculum programmes of study for IT and ICT; much of the development work for digital literacy in schools has been possible because of various government initiatives particularly the financial support provided to resource schools.
Since September 2012, ICT has been ‘disapplied’ from the National Curriculum (DfE, 2012) with the intention of looking at proposals for new ICT programmes that will be ‘innovative’ and ‘exciting’ (BCS 2012) in readiness for 2014. Disapplication does not take ICT out of the curriculum; instead ‘schools are now free to develop their own curricula for ICT that best meets the needs of their pupils’ (DfE, 2012). ICT remains a compulsory National Curriculum subject. However, there is still the question of what is meant by ICT, and how this relates to the concept of digital literacy adopted in this resource, in the case studies and by participants in the DeFT Project (see Chapter 5 Examples of Practice). The term subject-based curriculum’, draws on discourses rooted in different subject areas; in particular:
These are represented in the diagram below and all contribute to how digital literacy is understood in UK schools:
For References see 3.1.4 References / Links to Further Resources