Becoming digitally literate is not a simple step-by-step process. Digital literacy is itself a spectrum, and you as a school can choose what initiatives you’re going to introduce and implement based on your own judgement of what you deem necessary. There are a number of variables that contribute to being digitally literate, and based on the current digital climate in which we live - the more we promote and encourage digital literacy in schools the more prepared and the greater benefits we will experience.
We’ve outlined some of the steps you can take to make your school community digitally literate.
Harness the power of whole-school software
Today, tech is woven into almost every aspect of our day-to-day lives. Companies across all sectors have been utilising technology to streamline, enhance and speed up everyday processes and education is no different. There are an abundance of education technology solutions available to schools, and many of these are whole-school software solutions. Investing in these products by following savvy edtech procurement documentation, will not only help to make whole-school improvements, but it will also make students’ transition from using tech outside of school to within school walls much cleaner. Young people today don’t just resonate with technology, it’s a part of their DNA and will continue to be. It’s for these reasons that we should actively incorporate technology into the managing of schools to not only make them reflective of today’s society, but to also help students and teachers hone their digital skills.
Collaborate and share best practice online
Using technology in your personal life can help you to become more digitally literate, give you insight into the digital world your students are growing up in and enable you to grow professionally. Exploring social media can be particularly fruitful in this endeavour, especially Twitter. There’s a subculture of teachers called ‘tweachers’ many of whom are technology enthusiasts and share tips, ideas and resources which can help you and your school to progress their digital literacy. Look out for chats such as #UKEdChat #SLTChat and subject-specific conversations.
As any good edtech blog or article will tell you, simply throwing tablets at students does not help on your mission to become digitally literate, however, when implemented for the right reasons and with careful consideration, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiatives can help to progress your students’ digital skills. The apps that are available to use in class can help hone their digital skills whilst also promoting collaboration, student engagement and providing teachers with classroom transparency.
The rate at which technology develops and the areas it impacts calls for more frequent school policy reviews. Most relevant to digital literacy are internet use in school, anti-bullying and your mobile phone policy. The way in which we teach, research and complete work both at home and in class has evolved to heavily depend on internet usage and as a result, restrictions surrounding internet usage need to be addressed. The same applies to mobile phone use, when we live in such a connected world and are so dependent on our phones, policies relating to mobile phone use should be reviewed in order for it to remain fit for purpose for everyday life - there are low, medium and high adoption policies that you can choose between.
Unfortunately, the rise of technological advancements have also given rise to cyber-bullying which needs to be factored into your anti-bullying policy. Social media networks, camera phones and online communication has meant that bullying on these platforms is heightened and a strict anti bullying policy is written up which factors in these platforms.
The quest for our students to become digitally literate ensures they have the knowledge they need to sustain our digital infrastructure in work after education - in order for our students to pursue careers in technology they need to be continuing STEM studies at further education. Extra-curricular clubs that promote the uptake of these can help peak and nurture students’ interest in these topics and ‘girls only’ STEM clubs can help with the nation’s wider mission to diversify the future STEM workforce.
Updating the curriculum
Despite actions having been taken to make our curriculum more inline with the digital Britain we live in, there is still a way to go in order for it to be fully embracing of today’s world. Ways in which you can proactively make your curriculum more encompassing of the information needed to make our students digitally literate include introducing the risks and importance of proper use of internet into PSHE subjects, providing extra-curricular clubs that look at the importance of cyber security and consistently promoting the importance of STEM subjects.