Educating more than a worker bee

PSE and Digital Literacy Skills

Digital literacy skills are crucial in the information age. We are no longer just worker bees or units of manpower to be educated according to the needs of our industrial masters. We all have the ability to control our learning and it is our duty to empower students so that they can come to this same conclusion. A useful avenue for teaching the digital literacy skills that might empower students to gain control and direction of their own learning (and ultimately, their destiny) might be PSE.  Beyond the obvious imparting of knowledge by incorporating a “digital literacy skills’ unit, digital literacy skills could be carefully integrated with other learning in PSE. Activities could be set up that allow students to learn the PSE content whilst using digital literacy skills. Another interesting avenue is through the use of ePortfolios.

Next year, UWCSEA will be introducing this concept to our students. Our students will maintain a website (via WordPress) which will act as a repository for their blogging and reflection. I have a feeling that the impact here could be huge for a variety of reasons:

  1. It empowers students to take control of their learning
  2. It gives students an online presence in the information age
  3. We could help bridge the gap between vertical mentor groups

Empowering students

Students need to understand that they are masters of their universe. The ePortfolio can act as a place for them to write reflections, record their learning and interact with the world. When they read a book, they can write a review, publish it and get feedback. They have an avenue to learn even if they are not enjoying what is going on in class.

Developing an online presence

We now live in an information age. Employers can search the name of a potential new recruit on the internet and turn out all sorts of data. When they search your name, you want a website that you run coming out as the top search! This can give employers an insight into your personality and fit for the role before they even interview you. To make themselves stand out in the information age, students need an online presence that is positive and interactive.

Bridging the vertical gap

In a big school like UWCSEA, there is little interaction between grade levels. ePortfolios could help bridge that gap. You can envisage a session whereby grade 11 students write a PSE blog post aimed at grade 9 students. The grade 9 students then read that blog post and are asked to comment on it. The grade 11s then follow up on this by commenting back. All of a sudden, new connections are made. Obviously, this interaction will not occur overnight and must be carefully scaffolded in order to make the connections sustainable and meaningful. That is a story for a whole new blog post!

So, these are just some of my thoughts. How do you think digital literacy skills might enhance the PSE programme in your schools?
Food for thought: What even are digital literacy skills? This blog post asks that exact question: Basic Skills for the Information Age: Ideas from the Community College Circuit.

Featured image credit: In the hive

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