Learning in the Web 2.0 World
Just as basic literacy means more than just decoding alphabetic symbols, digital literacy involves more than the mere ability to use software or operate a digital device; it includes a variety of technical, cognitive, social and emotional skills which users need in order to function effectively in a digital environment. As educators we need to teach kids the skills required in this context:
Graphic literacy, Navigation, Context, Skepticism, Focus, Ethical Behavior --these have become survival skills for learners to participate in knowledge-construction tasks in a digital environment.
- Graphic literacy – thinking visually: The nature of literacy is changing; it includes not only text but also symbols and visual images or icons that make up graphic user interfaces. Students need to learn the language of screen literacy and to develop the skills to understand the instructions and messages represented visually.
- Navigation – developing a sense of Internet geography: The hypertext environment of the Internet is a powerful learning environment; however, users are faced with many challenges. Hypertext environments provide students with a high degree of freedom in navigating through large amounts of information, but also present them with problems arising from the need to construct knowledge from large quantities of independent pieces of information reached in a non-linear, unorganized manner. Transition from linear to non-linear environments requires users to develop thinking skills that are characterized by a good sense of multimedia spatial orientation, simply stated -- not getting lost when you click from one website or page to another. Students, ages 7 to 12, who worked on the International Children’s Digital Library development team, for example, understood this issue and initiated the design of a screen reader, the Spiral Reader, so that users would have a “sense of place” or visual context while reading a digital book.
- Context – seeing the connections: A hypermedia environment encourages non-linear exploration, but unfortunately it does not provide a context to critically investigate a subject. Unlike a printed book that contains a table of contents and an index to assist the reader to delve deeper and understand the relationships and connections among sub-topics, Internet resources are viewed out of context. Students often collect lots of independent pieces of information with no depth to their inquiry. Hypermedia environment encourage broad accumulation of information, but not necessarily deep exploration. Sometimes students link only to resources from one website which might produce the quantity of information needed but could also present a narrow, biased glimpse of a subject.
- Focus – practicing reflection and deep thinking: A digital environment offers a multitude of distractions and tends to fragment our attention. When a task is difficult, we naturally tend to succumb to these distractions, and when sitting at a computer they are not only easily available but enticing — checking email, Googling, iTunes, instant messaging, etc. Deep reading and reflection are necessary for associative thinking, synthesis and understanding. We need to address these issues and find remedies to guide students to focus and think deeply.
- Skepticism – learning to evaluate information: With the rapid growth of information, the ability of users to evaluate and use information competently is a key issue in developing digitally literate students. The need to evaluate information is not unique to the digital age; it has always been part of the information literacy curriculum. Not surprisingly, the criteria needed to determine the quality and credibility of online information are identical to those required for evaluating information found in other forms of communications: accuracy, authority, objectivity, currency, relevance, and coverage of scope. However, it takes on urgency because of the sheer quantity of information produced daily and the lack of safeguards that publishing houses provide with print media. Students need to develop a sense of skepticism and hone their judgment skills when locating Web-based information to detect erroneous, irrelevant or biased information.
- Ethical behavior – understanding the rules of cyberspace: Students need to know how to use technology responsibly and thoughtfully, as well as, how to protect their safety, security, and privacy online. Ethics and citizenship in cyberspace includes respect for digital property; an understanding of the special privileges and responsibilities of online communication; and the critical thinking and decision making skills to manage one’s actions in cyberspace.
Best Library/Librarian Blog!
Check out the winners in all ten categories and while you're exploring, be sure to look at Edublog and think about setting up a free blog for yourself. Maybe next year you'll be the 2006 library/librarian blog winner.
* Most innovative edublogging project, service or programme 2005
James Farmer: Edublogs
* Best newcomer 2005
Konrad Glogowski: Blog of proximinal development
* Most influential post, resource or presentation 2005
George Siemens: Connectivism: Learning as Network-Creation
* Best designed/most beautiful edublog 2005
D’Arcy Norman: D’Arcy Norman Dot Net
* Best library/librarian blog 2005
Joyce Valenza: Joyce Valenza’s NeverEnding Search
* Best teacher blog, joint winners 2005
Konrad Glogowski: Blog of proximinal development
* Best audio and/or visual blog 2005
Dave Cormier and Jeff Lebow: Ed Tech Talk
* Best example/ case study of use of weblogs within teaching and learning 2005
Thomas Hawke, Thomas Stiff, Susan Stiff, Diane Hammond (YES I Can! Science team): Polar Science
* Best group blog 2005
Rudolf Amman, Aaron Campbell, Barbara Dieu: Dekita.org
* Best individual blog 2005
Stephen Downes: OLDaily
Oprah's National High School Essay Contest
Everyone knows the impact Oprah's Book Club has had on reading in this country. Imagine if she can do that for high school students. Oprah is sponsoring an essay contest; it will be based on the book she plans to reveal on her January 16 television show and will be open to high school students across America. Then, based on their essays, a panel of learned judges will select 50 high school students. Each finalist, along with one designated parent or guardian, will receive a trip to a special Oprah Show taping in late February. To support this nationwide initiative, her website will offer comprehensive study materials for students, teachers and parents. The deadline for entries is Monday, February 6, 2006
Using Google Effectively
Did you know that you can find synonyms on Google by preceding the term with a ~ which is known as the tilde or synonym operator? The tilde ~ takes the word immediately following it and searches both for that specific word as well as the word’s synonyms. It also searches for the term with alternative endings. Of course it works best when applied to general terms and terms with many synonyms. As with the + and - operators, put the ~ (tilde) next to the word, with no spaces between the ~ and its associated word. Using the query [~kids television] will bring results that include kids, children and child. And in turn [~inexpensive travel] will return hits with cheap or discount also. Pretty cool. We are always trying to get students to think of synonyms for their search terms - Google can help!
This fall I spoke at the Arizona State Library Conference, Searching Google and Beyond: Tips, Strategies and Resources. The PowerPoint and website resources are under Workshops on this blog. It has more tips to help students use Google more effectively.
I recently conducted a workshop on digital literacy for school librarians, teachers and administrators and in my preparation I found quite a few thought provoking articles and research which I grouped by questions:
- How is digital literacy defined and explored?
- Is the Net generation really different?
- Are there digital literacy assessments?
- What is the latest research on the use of the Internet by students?
- What new demands are being placed on students to successfully "read" digital texts? How are these skills different from those used to read print text?
You can find the full listing under Resources on this blog. If you have additional articles you think are noteworthy, send them to me and I'll add them to the list. Enjoy your reading.
Virtual Environment for PD
I spent the evening in TappedIn organizing my virtual office in preparation to facilitate my monthly sessions on Web tools. Time went by so quickly. I stopped in the reception area to say hello to BJ, a staff member and my favorite mentor and then couldn't resist stopping at a session on science resources. I picked up a few good tips and resources then got down to business in my office.
If you have never been in TI, consider joining me for a Web Tools session. TappedIn is a professional development Web-based learning environment for educators. “Through Tapped In, educators can extend their professional growth beyond courses or workshops with the online tools, resources, colleagues, and support they need to implement effective, classroom-centered learning activities.” Check out the calendar of events.
If you need a good laugh, try reading Unshelved, "the world's only daily comic strip set in a public library! Writer Gene Ambaum (the made-up name of a real-life librarian) and co-writer and artist Bill Barnes have been publishing since February 16, 2002. Some of the stories are made up, some of them are based on real life, and some are absolutely true stories sent to us from our readers. And the stranger the story, the more likely it is to be true."
I get the comic strip sent to my email every day-- and it never fails to make me smile.
More good news from ICDL. In their continuing efforts to support a global community they have made the searching and reading tools available in 9 languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Filipino/Tagalog, German, Hebrew, Persian/Farsi, and Spanish. You can become a member and then specify which language you prefer when you login. Very cool.
And they have just added another 95 new books which brings the total to over 700 books in 29 languages including Quechua and Kinyarwanda. Be sure to bookmark this site and see my previous post to learn more about ICDL.
International Children's Digital Library
Give yourself a
present today and visit the International
Children's Digital Library (ICDL). The mission of the ICDL is to select,
collect, digitize, and organize children's materials in their original
languages and to create appropriate technologies for access and use by children
3-13 years old. What they have accomplished so far is amazing - 611 books in
over 25 languages -- with the help of the KidsTeam, a half a dozen kids who
meet twice weekly to help with the design and development of the ICDL. Read
more about the kids' involvement in Technology
Review and The
When you explore ICDL, be sure to check out the search choices in the basic search page. Two options are color of the book and length of a book -- you know kids had a say in these. Also, use the Spiral Reader when viewing your blue, medium length, make believe book for kids six to nine that has kid characters -- that was also the kids' idea.
Before you leave the site, click on "Become an ICDL Ambassador." There are a lot of ways to get involved in this project:
- Submit "Featured Book" recommendations
- Provide brief descriptions of ways you are using the ICDL collection
- Identify specific language needs
- Promote use of the ICDL in your community
- Identify and/or serve as a liaison toindividuals or organizations that could recommend books for inclusion in the collection
- Serve as a "test site" for software development
- Serve as a "test site" for ICDL use studies
ICT Literacy Assessment
NPR Morning Edition did a report on the new computer literacy test being developed by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Although this Web-based assessment is just being piloted and it’s not used as a requirement for college entrance, as are the SATs -- who knows what the future holds. ETS announced back in November that they were developing this test as a resource for colleges and universities to help them better understand their students’ information and communication technology literary levels.
The 2 hour pilot test, in which each student was paid $25 to take, is over so you are out of luck if you want to take it; however, you can read about Amit Asaravala’s (a writer for Wired magazine) experience or look at a demo on the ETS’s ICT Literacy Assessment site. Also, check out the white paper; it defines what they mean by information and communications technology:
ICT proficiency is the ability to use digital technology, communication tools, and /or networks appropriately to solve information problems in order to function in an information society. This includes the ability to use technology as a tool to research, organize, evaluate, and communicate information and the possession of a fundamental understanding of the ethical / legal issues surrounding the access and use of information.