Teaching in a Digital World: Digital information and fluency
Digital information and digital fluency are a set of integrated skills for students to assist them in becoming lifelong learners. Educators and those being educated are frequently using digital devices (such as smart boards and computers) with the use of the internet . Therefore, it is essential that teachers have the ability to ensure that the content of the information that may be from such resources as the internet, newspaper, media and television are from quality, reliable sources (Howell, 2014a).
Digital information can be in the form of images, hyperlinks through reports or blogs, audio files, video files or podcasts. This type of learning content is referred to by Howell (2012) as “recreational technology” (p. 139), Students using digital information outside of their school classes create an challenge for teachers as teachers are then required to translate these recreational technologies into forms of “learning technology” (p. 139). Howell (2014b) reflects that the best way to achieve “active participation” is to expose students to a variety of different learning tools. Digital fluency is taking “into account the skills that are needed to successfully use digital technologies for learning e.g. critical thinking and collaboration” (White, 2013, p. 9). Digital information and digital fluency are used frequently within a classroom environment and is captured by research performed by White (2013) on behalf of the Australian Council for Educational Research. White’s research (2013) states that “students would need to be fluent online, with the web, text, audio, animation, video, remixing, design, downloading and uploading, and fluent in critical thinking, collaboration and deciding relevancy” (p. 7) in order to process the information and be fluent for online learning. Therefore, teachers must ensure worthy resources such as the use of hypertexts and eBooks (Howell, 2012, p. 139) from online sources are implemented to ensure that the correct understanding and interpretation is learnt by the students. Digital tools used as a teaching strategy expand student’s abilities to become digitally fluent, engaged and promote participation. (Howell, 2014b).
In order for teachers to integrate digital information and fluency in a classroom, the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) capability is part of the general capabilities within the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA, 2013). Teachers may use content curation websites such as Pinterest or Diigo in order to store information which is relevant to a specific topic. The Australian Curriculum Science: Science Understanding: Development of the geosphere content descriptor (Australian Curriculum and Assessment Reporting Authority [ACARA], n.d., ACSES018) will be used within the classroom by having students present their findings in a Microsoft Office programme (Excel, Word, Publisher or Powerpoint) showing the Earth as a layered structure. The findings report must include hyperlinks, images and tables which will be used to further develop student’s lifelong learning on the topic.
Figure 1. Classroom ideas – investigating the layers of the earth (Maggie’s Science Connection, n.d.)
Digital information and the relationship of digital fluency are imperative in successful classrooms for learning new skills, motivating and engaging students (Woolfolk & Margetts, 2013, p. 453). As digital information and digital fluency merge, students and teachers enhance learning abilities and opportunities to increase lifelong learning as well as the opportunities to collaborate and multitask.