I’m coming to the end of another class for that Master’s program I’ve been plugging away at; in just a few days the current class will be over and I will be exactly halfway through the degree plan, with 6 classes down and 6 to go. This class has been “Digital Learning in Local and Global Contexts,” and we’ve been looking at technology initiatives around the globe, how and why they have been successful (or not), and what we can learn from previous initiatives. My plan
to take over the world was formerly titled Digital Literacy through Student-Created Content; I am working with teachers, librarians, and students to develop a website of student-created artifacts that will explain how to accomplish basic digital tasks and understand basic digital literacy concepts. I have updated the plan title slightly to Digital Fluency through Student-Created Content, as it really is more fluency that we want for our students, rather than just the basics of literacy. The current class has encouraged us to look to other initiatives to see what can be learned from others’ successes and failures.
One of the main things to be learned from unsuccessful technology implementation attempts is that they are almost never failures of technology; they fail because of poor planning, lack of vision, lack of teacher professional learning, or some other combination of deficits in communication, management, or leadership. One example of this failure was the LA Unified School District’s now-famous iPad debacle. Lessons learned: be sure your new technology idea is a good fit; start small; do lots of professional development; and communicate, communicate, communicate!
Elements of my innovation plan align almost exactly with Haddad’s Analytical Review of ICTs (Information Communication Technologies) for Education (2007); these are the things that can enhance educational objectives. So my idea doesn’t replace anything, but it does have the potential to:
Expand educational opportunities by allowing students to teach by creating the content and to learn from peers, from any location at any time, and to participate in an appropriate online community
Increase efficiency by providing a safe place for teachers to direct their students who need to learn a digital skill quickly
Enhance the quality of learning by allowing students to learn in other ways, from more people than just their classroom teacher
Enhance the quality of teaching by allowing students to serve as mentors for others (especially in the cases of “tech timid” teachers who may not know these digital skills themselves)
Facilitate skill formation by teaching specific skills in student-centered, student-developed language
Sustain lifelong learning by allowing students to learn a particular skill at a particular time, and to know that they can contribute to the learning landscape as well;
Advance community linkages by allowing access for parents, grandparents, and other community members to also learn from the student-created work
From time to time, I have doubts about my innovation plan; I wonder if such a website is even necessary. But just five minutes ago, checking Facebook, I got confirmation that it isn’t just me who thinks kids are lacking in digital skills. This post is from a librarians’ group I’m in:
This post really confirmed for me that my plan has merit. My hope is that students themselves can be part of the solution to the problem of gaps in digital literacy by contributing to a site that will teach these skills. The student content creators will gain additional understanding of the skills themselves (because we all know that you learn something better when you teach it) as well as presentation skills and the pride and empowerment of helping others learn something that could be very useful. They also get experience in making positive contributions to an online community. And anyone who uses the site will have the experience of learning from a student, because #kidscanteachus. Another recent literature review also confirmed to me that the myth of the “digital native” is alive and well, and is just that: a myth.
We seem to be on track to achieving the goal of 125 pieces of content on the site by May 2017, as outlined in this infographic:
At this point the major update I’ll be making to my plan includes a professional development piece that will need to commence at the beginning of the upcoming school year; teachers will need to be aware of the CLICK website and be given suggestions for using the site with their students. It is my hope that once the site gets more well-known, that more students will independently want to participate in its development, so I’ll also need an easy way for students to submit content without having to go through a teacher intermediary. I’ll also want to build in some kind of a feedback loop once the site is up and running. I need a way to determine if the site is useful to both students and teachers, and why or why not. Soliciting suggestions on additional types of content that would be beneficial could also be built in to this feedback form.
I need to get a couple more parent permission forms on file, and then I’m looking forward to unveiling our new CLICK site, helping students to Collaborate-Learn-Instruct-Create-Know. It’s looking great, and I can’t wait to show you how it’s shaping up!