DTELLS session on Digital Literacy – a reflection on planning a session



When planning this session I started as ever looking at the session delivered last year. Overall, I felt that the session had gone well and there were only some minor tweeks needed – especially around the fact that I felt that the first and final activities were repetitive. The best activities of the session were the digital histories, (an idea adapted from maths histories on the excellence gateway) and I’m particularly keen to keep this activity as we have such a range of ages and cultures this year, which should provide some interesting discussion points on digital natives vs digital immigrants.  Comparing the print newspaper with the digital newspaper was also really interesting, and my first thought in updating this activity was to include newspaper apps in this comparison as all the trainees have some kind of mobile device.


Doing some wider reading around the topic before the session, I started, of course online, by Googling ‘digital literacy’. Wikipedia came up the second link and this reminded me of a forum post on LinkedIn about possible warmer activities for HE courses. This post suggested students look at the Wikipedia page for their subject and evaluate this information based on what they think they know about the subject and what they expect to learn from the course. I already had an activity where the trainees considered their thoughts on the definition of digital literacy and have now added an extra element where they then go onto Wikipedia and compare.


The session I attended in Morocco by Gavin Dudeney is also available on the British Council website and this gave me further ideas for the session. Initially I had thought to give pairs of trainees a specific tool to research and consider how they could use this with their ESOL ss, but there are so many great ideas on this link alone I want to let them have more time to explore this outside the classroom. Instead, I’m going to focus on the ‘where the hell is Matt’ video and ask the trainees if they agree with Gavin that this is one of the best EFL resources available, and then to explore the wider website for lesson ideas.


As well as looking at digital literacy in the ESOL classroom, I also want the trainees to be considering their own digital literacy, and this has made me think about my own. When reviewing the ‘digital literacy history’ activity I updated my own history from last year, which focused on the 10 year period from 1988-1998 as the ‘starting years of technology’ for me to include the past 18 months since I got the iGadgetry. I think this shows just how fast technology is moving and reinforces how the role of the teacher here is to help students to be critical of the tools that they are so familiar with using.


The session today will focus predominantly on reading skills, however, when considering my own digital literacy I thought mainly about writing for this blog. As I’ve said previously, I have struggled recently with writing here, which is a surprise as usually find this activity quite therapeutic and it’s something that comes quite easily to me.  Currently, I feel that there are three types of writing that I may undertake:


1)    Reflective blog post. This is the most basic of posts, simply reporting on what I’ve done/plan to do as a tool for my own CPD and reflection.

2)    Blog post referencing other blog posts/websites. Most of the blogs I follow and read are more in depth posts than simple reflections, and they are stating an opinion, making a point or asking a question. Again, in relation to this session it was interesting to see where my research took me. Starting on one blog post, it then references another which in term another, and you get taken on quite a journey though the net. If I were to write a blog post in this manner it takes a little more thought and organisation, and I wonder how much this is the reason I’m not writing so much. It certainly takes a lot more effort than the straight reflective blog.

3)    writing for ‘publication’. Here the word publication is in quote marks as there is the blur between being published in a peer review journal and self publishing a blog for example, and it is this grey area that we will discuss in the session today. In what way are we clear that what we are reading has an validity? Who is the author? What is their background?  Discussing this with Sam, he was saying that he would question referencing to Wikipedia or blogs within written assignments as there is the expectation that there has been a quality assurance process to a reference. When we tell students they need to reference their work and we demonstrate the different ways to do this – whether it’s a book, journal, webpage, etc – maybe we need to have more of a focus on what webpage they are referencing, how they found it, why they chose it, is it an appropriate reference? Here we are, back to critical thinking skills.


As ever, the most difficult thing with planning a session on such a huge topic is keeping it relevant but comprehensive in the time allowed. I’ve really enjoyed planning for the session, and has inspired to write something here and with 30 mins to go I’m looking forward to seeing how I can challenge, and be challenged, by the trainees.


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