Subject teaching has changed considerably in the digital age. Given that subject knowledge is no longer contained within authorised printed textbooks that pronounce what can be known about a particular subject, students can now access a range of information on the Internet that challenges canonical knowledge and enables pupils to explore and extend their own limits of that subject. As Hague and Payton (2010) suggest:
‘Developing digital literacy in subjects of the curriculum is not about being fashionable or simply about trying to engage students in learning. It is about addressing the changing nature of subject knowledge and acknowledging that young people will need different kinds of skills, knowledge and understanding in order to develop their expertise in subjects. Developing digital literacy in subject teaching supports young people to be effective, competent, critical students of that subject in the digital age’. (Hague and Payton, 2010: 12)
Further to this, digital literacy can dissolve the boundaries between subjects and enable learners to participate in activities in which learning is not tied to specific curriculum subjects. Open Education Resources (OERs) are the perfect digital medium for this type of activity and lend themselves to topic-based or cross curricular activities (see 2.6.1 Open Education Resources). For example, in Case Study 6 pupils were able to develop digital literacy skills, knowledge and understanding, including the ability to use a range of digital tools for the purposes of creativity and self-expression in a range of subject areas: literacy, music, art.
A significant aspect of the study was that the digital tools and sites were not used in isolation; they were part of activities that embedded meaning-making and creativity. The children used Scratch to create monsters that would be shared with others on an open access website. The teacher also used an OER (Screenr) to create screencasts that would lead the children through the use of digital tools was a means of developing their independence.
In Case Study 5, pupils created OERs to accompany educational displays at a local science adventure centre. Whilst the project was located within the English and art curriculum, it involved pupils engaging in science as they wrote poetry about The Big Melt, a display that recreates the steelmaking process. Pupils moved across curriculum boundaries in a fluid manner, the approach challenging traditional restrictions regarding subject teaching, which separates them in terms of curriculum structure, timetabling and examination. Digital approaches facilitate the dissolving of these boundaries and promote integrated learning.
For References see 3.7.5 References/Links to Further Resources