Preparing our students to live in the technological world presents us with an immediate challenge in that tomorrows technologies, the technologies our current students may be presented with in the working world post the completion of their formal education may not as yet exist.
I remember the 3.5″ Floppy Disk. I remember MySpace and Friends Re-United, sites which are now gone. I consider myself reasonably familiar with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest however less familiar with Snapchat and Instagram. These sites represent a tiny fraction of the networking and other social media sites which exist so I suspect there are many sites which our students are using that I am not aware of.
So does this lack of awareness of all current tools mean that I am not digitally literate? Does the fact my son has no clue as to what MySpace impact on his digital literacy?
I have specifically listed social media sites in particular as I think the answer here is in the form of categorization, which my choice makes it easier to illustrate. I am aware of social media as a category, and can use various social media tools dependent on my needs. The fact I am making regular use of a couple of apps and also occasional use of a few others evidences this. I also feel I could pick up and use new tools where there is a need. This is therefore sufficient when looking at digital literacy as it unlikely that anyone would be be actively using all social media tools, including new tools as they arise. New tools are being created too often and usage is based on need. We also need to accept human habit, which results in preferred tools such as my preferred use of Twitter as my social media channel over other tools.
The questions that come from the above are therefore:
- what are the current categories of tools and technologies which exist?
- how can we develop the skills needed in students to be able to pick up and use new tools as needed?
- Should we provide shallow breadth of app/technology coverage or deeper coverage of a more limited set of apps/technologies?