The digital divide in the staffroom

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?

DIGITAL.

elephant-room

Technological Literacy

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.

Digital Competence

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.

mum-im-digital-native-l-11
Digital Natives

 

 

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.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “The digital divide in the staffroom

  1. While technological advances are staggering, the advances in user-friendliness are also impressive. I feel that you don’t need to be particularly tech savvy to use many of the incredible apps available. What I find more difficult to adapt to is the availability of so much information. The necessity to remain focused clear about objectives and to retain a global view of the learning outcomes is even more important now than in the past. This ability was always underlined throughout my paper age learning. Another other point that intrigues me is how much time we spend repeating lesson plans, material design and resources, which could be in theory be developed very well for once and for all. Should the future be a focus on quality of content and an elimination of the dross? Maybe it’s happening already…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That is very true Tony, accessibility to technology has never been better. I think it’s interesting that you mention the vast information available and the ability to decipher through it. I have lost hours of my life (if not days or months!) trawling through resources, websites and google search pages. I have fallen into the abyss of the internet on more than one occasion and I would consider myself very much so digitally competent and focused.

    I guess the lesson plans, material, content and resources will never be developed once and for all because of the curse of the teacher… Never being entirely content and always striving for improvement. I guess the day we are truly happy with all of our content, resources and our delivery, is the day that we have given up!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s