Students today are tech-savvy as most of us teachers know. However, they all enter the early stages of school with different capabilities in ICT. Their home use of technology varies significantly in some cases and this can have a lasting impact on their use of ICT in school unless teachers provide equal access to the available technology. Moving on from this point, however, despite this according to Howell (2012) students don’t really start to become digital fluent until they enter Year 4.
When they enter Year 4, students are expected to have the following abilities (Howell, 2012, p. 133):
- They will be able to turn and turn off a computer, start commonly used programs like MS Word or Internet Explorer and perform basic tasks;
- They will be able to use a PC and a laptop;
- They are able to use a mouse (and have a clear understanding of its movements and buttons);
- They should be able to use a digital camera, frame photographs, use the zoom button, transfer images to a computer and perhaps do some basic editing;
- They will be able to use Google (or something similar) to perform basic Internet searches; they will understand the use of keywords in searching for information; they will know how to find pages and how to open them;
- They might have experience in more creative and complex technologies such as robotics;
- They should have an enthusiastic attitude towards technology.
Dubbed “technology neophytes”, these skills as noted by Howell (2012) are “pertaining to those encountered and situated within a formal learning context” (p.133). By the end of their primary education, these students should be described “digitally fluent”.
Digital fluency is the culmination of students being ‘digital content creators’ and ‘technology innovators’. Both Kennewell et al. (2000) and Bennett (2007) agree that digital fluency and high level of ICT capability is developed through meaningful, subject-related context. A good example of this is through the teaching of literacy where ICT is understood to be of high value in its development. Any sort of activity like this would be closely tied to the curriculum which would mean that it would most definitely meet learning outcomes.
As mentioned earlier, students also become digital content creators which is achieved by providing students with creative ICT activities. On the other hand, experimental ICT activities help students to become technology innovators.
As a teacher you can encourage your students to become technology innovators by providing them to access to a variety different technologies. It is essential that they are given the opportunity to not only encounter problems, but to also find solutions to solve these problems independently. This provides them with a powerful learning experience for them.
Now we come to discuss about digital fluency which basically means that they have a sound grounding in ICT. Shifting away from their ‘technology neophyte’ tag, they begin to focus more on learning technologies and by end of the primary if not early secondary, they should be digitally fluent.
So what do you need to look for?
This is a suggested checklist by Howell (2012,p.139) of digital fluency.
These are the skills which you need to be aware of if you teach in this phase of schooling (Year 4 to Year 7).
To learn more about how to Develop Digital Fluency in learners, click the link below to preview our latest example of how you can provide them with meaningful activities, embedded in purposeful subject-related contexts.