First off: R.I.P. “21st Century.” We’re almost in 2012 – “21st Century” when attached to words such as skills, education, society, learner, teacher, and competencies is now just a cliché. It is just our reality now.
Our reality dictates that a literate person must possess a wide range of competencies and skills. Many of these skills have been part of the definition of “literate” since the word was coined. However, as societies and technologies change, so does literacy, and what it means to be literate.
The evolution of the word literate involves a set of skills that many refer to as techno-literacies, information literacy, digital fluencies, or even digital citizenship. These skills include but are not limited to:
- Understanding Text in the most broad sense
- (Collaboratively) Create, analyze, critique, and evaluate multi-media Texts
- Manage multiple streams and forms of information
- Locate and Evaluate (vet) information and its source
- Determining the intent of authors
- Develop proficiency with technology tools
- (Collaboratively) Consuming (reading) and Creating (writing) in multiple forms of media
- Attend to the ethical and moral responsibilities of consuming and creating in a global environment
While many connected educators agree that it is our responsibility to teach and continue to learn about these techno-literacies, I don’t think we’re doing a great job, yet. While many speak about the moral imperative of an educational paradigm shift, few are recognizing that it is their job to address the need and teach these skills to our students. They are as important as anything else in our curricula.
While I already addressed the role of the new Librarian and the new Learning Commons, I believe it is every teacher’s responsibility to teach these Technoliteracies to the students in front of them. It’s going to look different from grade to grade, and it needs to be addressed differently from subject to subject, but it can be done.
There may be teachers who are not comfortable enough with these skills themselves to be able to teach them. The good news is that we as teachers have the tools at our disposal to learn or even co-learn these skills with our students. We are very fortunate at PVNC that every teacher has a laptop. The laptop also comes with some great PD to get you started. After that, it’s up to you! Jump in! You can’t learn to swim in a gymnasium. Likewise, you can’t learn about digital literacy unless you immerse yourself in the process. If you feel comfortable enough, empower your students to take the lead and help them to develop the skills they need to succeed in their future. I’ll be that nearly every educator has the words “lifelong learner” or a synonym in their Philosophy of Education. It’s time to renew that philosophy!