Becoming a digital prosumer....
The advent of digital technologies requires a new set of literacy skills in order to become competent productive citizens in a global knowledge based economy. Digital literacy, the ability to effectively perform tasks in a digital environment, is a vital 21C skill. The pervasiveness of the digital environment requires the ability to decode and interpret multiple media (text, sound, images) in a variety of formats.
Pondering the explosion of modalities of information. Information literacy is the skill which transcends grade levels and curriculum areas. Information literacy is the mastery of a process. My job as school library media specialist requires that I ensure that my patrons:
1. Access information
2. Evaluate information
3. Synthesize information
Whatever format the information takes. In a media rich environment, the prevalent format is digital. Which brings me to the multiplicity of digital formats. The ease of digital production. Web 2.0 tools.
Members of my school community frequently ask me “are we not going to have any books?” My response about books:
Books will always exist. It is the FORMAT of books that will change. What is important is the CONTENT of the book, not the format. My job, every educator’s job, is to enable students to access, evaluate and synthesize the content of the book. I as an individual have absolutely no control over what format books take. That is solely decision of authors and publishing companies. I can only modify and adjust my practices as an educator to juxtapose the necessary skills my school community needs with the format(s). The bound codex to which many of us are accustomed is only ONE format of a book. Centuries ago, I am sure many people felt the same attachment to scrolls, but the general populace does not access information from scrolls.
Digital formats abound. The multitude of Web 2.0 tools with which authors can create content is mind-boggling. For me, the beauty of the read/write web (as Will Ricardson describes Web 2.0) is the plethora of digital formats. For educators, no matter your personal teaching style and no matter the learning style of the student, there is a tool that “speaks” to that format. Sun Joo Woo developed a research project which attempts to correlate learning styles with Web 2.0 tools. The results of this study enable us as educators to align Web 2.0 tools with the needs of our students based on both the instructional outcome and the learning style.
As an educator, I need to be a producer of content in digital formats. While the varied digital formats can be overwhelming at first, I have found that I naturally “gravitate” towards some tools while I have to “make” myself use others. I believe I need to have basic competencies in a wide variety of formats, but I do not use each format on a regular basis. Like my search engine preferences, I have my “go to” tools which I use on a daily basis. I utilize other tools as I need them or want to use them. My “need” to use many digital tools is driven by the needs of my students. Just as I developed a repertoire of differentiated learning activities in the pre-digital age, I develop a repertoire of DIGITAL differentiated learning activities as a 21C educator. Not all digital formats “fit” all students. Diversity is the key to successful integration of digital media. I was originally inspired back in 2007 by Alan Levine’s 50 Ways to Tell A Story which has since metamorphasized into a collaborative wiki site (reflecting the globality of collective knowledge and experiences). The multiplicity of modalities available on the Web for my school community, the availability of resources 24/7 inspire me introduce my school community to these tools and challenge them to become information literate while establishing digital competencies.
And I am modeling my expectations.