When students take control of their own learning, motivation is improved and this has a positive effect on educational outcomes (Dudley-Marling and Searle, 1995). In the case of the teaching and learning of digital literacy, often the nature and use of technologies can result in pupils having more control of the pace of their learning, and in some cases the content itself. Little (1995) points out that learner autonomy is dependent on teacher autonomy and Salomon (2002: 75), commenting on the role of ICT in education, suggests it is ‘the pedagogical way in which it is used’ that is important.
Throughout the case studies the teachers have developed clear strategies for managing the teaching and learning environment and promoting the independence of learners. Encouraging the pupils to take control is one aspect of this, reducing the inherent power dimensions within the teaching and learning environment – the ‘teacher knows best’ concept – and recognising the skills and creativity pupils can bring to the learning.
‘It’s great when the teachers ask for our help. We know more about some of the editing programs than they do. It’s fun to set them right’, (Case Study 1).
Choice and control can provide pupils with a sense of agency. Indeed, undertaking activities in which they have sufficient knowledge to take on the role of ‘teacher’ can prove to be empowering. (See 3.5. Relationships and Digital Literacy)
The Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, referred in a speech to the many commercial lectures and tutorial that are available online from professional organisations: ‘One major change concerns content, and technology is having a huge impact on the way educational material can be delivered’, (Gove 2011). The DeFT Project has explored the reality of this and two of the case studies demonstrate how this can be developed in schools and embedded in the curriculum by giving pupils ownership of the content. For example, Case Study 1 and Case Study 3 describe how pupils were successfully involved in creating their own videos.
Open Education Resources (OERs) are one enabling factor in the access to resources and potentially, therefore, offer greater control and choice over content and purpose (see 2.6.1 Open Education Resources). In this way, the creative teacher has greater control over the way content is presented so that it is tailored for learners’ needs as sound pedagogical practice. Case Study 6 demonstrates this and is a useful example for classroom teachers struggling to integrate technology into their practice on a limited budget. The teacher, in this case, developed online tutorials to enable the children to follow instructions at their own pace and in their own time. Those children who were not as confident as others in creating their programmed monsters could re-watch the videos in order to refine their skills; in this case the children were in control of their leaning by choosing to access materials relevant to their needs rather than create materials.
While the benefits of ownership are recognised, in reality, choice and control can be limited for pupils, as other variable come into play even for the most creative teacher: time restrictions, school rules and policy, curriculum inflexibility and exam pressures. Research by Selwyn (2006) identifies a level of frustration expressed by students at the restrictions placed on internet use at school. However, Selwyn also suggests that most students in his study displayed a ‘pragmatic acceptance rather than the outright alienation from school that some commentators would suggest’ (Selwyn 2006: 2). Selwyn goes on to argue that ‘net savvy’ students are also ‘school-savvy’ in accepting the rules and regulations of school life.
For references see 3.6.6 References / Links to Further Resources