Here are my views about digital literacy. Challenge me.
Digital literacy should be one of the key parts of any curriculum.
What is digital literacy? Let's express this in behavioural terms.
I believe that it should not be possible for young people to leave school without being knowledgeable enough to be safe online (not just from sexual predators but from financial, racist, and other types of predator too).
It should not be possible for anyone to leave school and then leave laptops in the back of cars, usb sticks containing sensitive data in pub car parks, or sell hard disks containing data on eBay. All of these kinds of actions are undertaken by digitally illiterate people in my opinion.
Digital literacy should not be seen only in defensive terms:
A digitally-literate person will be able to express herself by creating a presentation, a podcast or a video. She will be able to validate data before putting it into a model, and then verify the results of the modelling process in terms of the accuracy and plausibility of the data.
A digitally-literate person will be able to use software applications in elegant and efficient ways, and even perhaps in ways that could not have been foreseen by the program's creators.
There are, or should be, lots of opportunities for pupils to apply and practise their digital literacy skills, right across the curriculum. However, in order to do so, they need a deep, not a superficial, understanding of the processes involved. These are not trivial. Take, for example, the concept of data validation. It's quite sophisticated, and quite necessary. It's summed up in the adage, "garbage in, garbage out", meaning that if you put rotten data into a computer you'll get rotten results. Someone has to be able to ensure that the data going into the computer is not full of errors, or of the wrong type.
It's been found recently , by the government inspection body in England, that teachers tend to teach technology up to the limit of their own knowledge, and that this effectively holds children back. In my experience, where technology is taught by non-specialists, this kind of "dumbing down" goes on as a matter of course. It's not deliberate: teachers don't know what they don't know. It's therefore not a criticism as such. If I taught English, it would almost certainly be superficial, because I'm not an English specialist, even though I've been speaking the language for over half a century. Why should we assume that if we send someone on an interactive whiteboard training course and give them a laptop for producing their worksheets, and they book their vacations online, that they're qualified to teach technology?
In fact, if we are really serious about embedding technology in the curriculum, the answer is not to get rid of it as a subject and farm it out across the curriculum, but to do the precise opposite and increase the amount of time spent teaching it. That would give pupils a much firmer skills base to employ in other subjects. It would also give non-tech teachers more confidence in using technology in their classrooms because of the knowledge that the youngsters pretty much know what they are doing.
Thoughts? Comments? Let me know!