Discussing Digital Literacy with educators usually brings about a list of excuses why they can’t implement teaching digital skills in the classroom:
1. I have too much curriculum content to cover, and I don’t have time to teach anything else.
2. I don’t know enough about Web 2.0 (or even what that really means) to help kids… besides, the kids already know more than I do, right?
3. Is anything about digital literacy on the ‘tests?’ No? Then I can’t teach it.
4. My administrator doesn’t support anything that isn’t research-based or a tried/true approach.
… and the list goes on. And for most of them, these are valid reasons for being hesitant, especially #4. But I’ve never really heard a good list from administrators. And without administrative support, classroom teachers can’t really move ahead either.
Jeanette Johnson is a principal who is also a blogger. About a year ago, she posted a top ten list of “not so good reasons… why educational leaders don’t embrace digital technologies.” It’s worth reading, whether you’re an administrator or not.
I’ve been saying for quite a while now that our kids don’t have time for the adults to catch up, but at the same time, I need to be empathetic to the needs of administrators and teachers. Do administrators need to step up? How could they even begin? My suggestion to many has been — start doing something that you haven’t done before:
1. Do you blog? If not, start by reading other educators’ blogs. If you’re reading mine, check out my blogroll on the right side of the page. I’ll be adding more later today.
2. Have you ever ventured into social profiles? They’re not all bad, even though there’s a lot of garbage out there. Jump into one, or better yet, have a kid show you what they do. That’s the best way to introduce yourself.
3. Find an educational podcast– or any podcast that you find interesting– and subscribe to it.
4. Talk to kids about what they do when they’re not in school. How much time do they spend on the web? Do they satisfy a direct need from what they do on the web? Or is it simply communication to them? How many of them post videos to sites like YouTube? Are they involved in any groups in MySpace or Facebook? Why? Do they podcast? Do they listen to podcasts? Why?
5. Think about the websites that are blocked by your school’s internet filter in the name of “safety.” How many of those sites are really unsafe for kids, and how many of them are considered a nuisance by you and/or your faculty? Brush up on the CIPA requirements and then compare your blocked list. And then… ask kids what they think.
Will kids think you’re weird or old school for not knowing about these things? Probably. But they already think you’re old school, right? So what’s the harm in asking?
21st Century Learners need educators who understand them and know what they need to learn to be prepared for their world. Educational leaders have to help their staff members to be prepared to teach 21st Century learners. If our leaders/administrators are behind, who will help them?