How often do you find yourself in awe of, or even intimidated by, the digital skills of your students?
This week, I sat in my school’s computer lab and marveled at the high level of ICT expertise being displayed by a group of Year 3 to 5 students. The group had been asked to take a series of photographs that could be sequenced together to tell a story. They were given the task of using any editing program available on our system to enhance their photographs. I watched on as some students used Adobe Photoshop like seasoned Graphic Design Professionals. I witnessed other students using functions and shortcuts in Microsoft Word that I had never seen before. It quickly became pretty obvious to me that the ICT skills of my students far surpassed my own!
In the paper “Their Space: Education for a Digital Generation,” Green and Hanlon argue that educators “see the world from a very different perspective to the generation of young people who do not remember life without the instant answers of the internet or the immediate communication of mobile phones” (2006: 15). They argue “that teachers are not trained to use new technologies adequately and this has a profoundly negative impact on their confidence.” (2006: 67). How do we meet the needs of the Digital Natives in our classrooms when their digital skills seem to outpace our own?
Green and Hanlon’s research identifies four different ‘types’ of Digital Natives to be found amongst our students:
• Digital pioneers were blogging before the phrase had been coined
• Creative producers are building websites, posting movies, photos and music to share with friends, family and beyond
• Everyday communicators are making their lives easier through texting and MSN
• Information gatherers are Google and Wikipedia addicts, ‘cutting and pasting’ as a way of life. (2006: 11)
Based on these user types, we’ve developed a list of the 8 digital skills we believe teachers need to possess to confidently and creatively use the technologies that resonate with their students.
Are there other digital skills you believe need to be added to this list?
What digital skill/s are you hoping to work on during the upcoming school year?