The elephant in the -staff- room
The exponential evolution of technology in the educational industry is rather frightening at times. Just when you think you have a grasp on what is digitally possible, some company goes and defies technology standards and understanding.
Similarly, this constantly changing and upgrading system of technology in schools is making the digital divide within the staff more obvious. Poor digital literacy can alienate and isolate staff, hindering collaboration and interaction if they cannot use the platform their school is associated with.
The digital divide has serious implications for the education system, far beyond the four walls of a classroom. A teacher with poor digital literacy and therefore competence will avoid using digital tools or platforms and stick to more traditional methods. While I absolutely respect traditional methods, being a product of these methods, it is important to remember the purpose of education; to prepare students for the future.
So what is the future?
Technology literacy is described as the basic level of understanding by an educator and just like learning to run, you must first walk. All teachers must be technology literate if a change in education is expected. Knowledge, skills and confidence in ICT will develop but only as a result of mastering digital literacy. The ability to integrate ICT into the curriculum, assessment objectives and didactic teaching methods will develop as the teacher competences in digital literacy develops.
It is important to remember that digital competence is not as simple as the ability to use the technology. Having the technology and using it may not actually lead to learning if it is not meaningfully integrated into teaching.
In many cases, CPD (Continuous Professional Development) programmes place an emphasis on technical skills rather than pedagogic programmes. As a result, it would be appropriate to assume that the focus on technical skills and neglect of pedagogical processes forces teachers into completing tasks rather than engaging with the learning process.
This results in improved literacy but competence suffers.
The Digital Divide
The Digital Divide within educators in schools can happen naturally. Individuals experience and are exposed to varying degrees of technology during development. Individuals with high exposure levels would be those how have grown up with technology. Such people are best described as Digital Natives as opposed to Digital Immigrants.
The number of digital natives within a staffroom grows with each graduation of newly qualified teachers, and as we move further into the 21st century the divide between native and immigrant will diminish and this may become relevant.
Never the less, it is suspected that digital natives learn differently compared with past generations of students. Which begs the question, can both digital natives and digital immigrants be expected to learn at the same pace in CPD programs? What about teachers hoping to understand the learning patterns of their own students?
I know of kids who are given their first smartphone, higher spec than mine might I add, when they were 8. 8?! And even at that, they’ve been using parents tablets/ipads/phones since they were toddlers. How on earth are digital natives going to keep up with younger generations of natives?
I hope this has been somewhat thought provoking for you, I hope you leave those thoughts below in the comment section.
Consider this a short abstract of a much bigger story.