I've just been browsing a report recently published by Ofcom titled "Children and parents: Media use and attitudes report." [PDF]. Much of my work in schools and with teachers involves discussions about the sorts of skills and dispositions young people need to be considered 'literate' in an increasingly digital world. The research carried out by Ofcom reveals some useful data to help inform how schools think about a response, including…
- an increase since 2010 in the number of children aged between 5-15 who have a PC or a laptop
- an increase from 93% from 88% of children aged between 12-15 year olds use the Internet from home
- children say that they would likely to miss their mobile or the Internet rather than TV
- 33% believe that the information on a website must be truthful
- only 23% of parents are concerned with what their kids see on the Internet
- 49% of parents state that their children know more than them
- 88% of the kids feel confident and know how to stay safe on the Internet
A quick scan down this list reveals some key areas of potential 'disconnect' between what many adults (incl. teachers) and students think is the case, and what is reality. Of particular note is the final statistic, revealing a very high percentage of young people who consider themselves to be responsible and safe online. The questions raised for me are; "who is helping our kids navigate this complex world of the WWW?, How are they learning to feel confident and safe?" As a parent of school-aged students I'm not convinced this would be accurate in practice (- which is why I spend time with them talking about and modelling responsible online behaviour).
Understanding digital literacy is a complex issue, largely because of the way the thinking about it is evolving. There's certainly no shortage of useful links and article son the topic online.
- This post from a blog of the University of Northern Iowa provides a useful schematic, along with a number of links that could be useful to teachers in developing a better understanding of the topic.
- Janice Chia from Nanyang Technological University posted how she is addressing the constant evolution of information literacy in her library context, with advice that could be applied in a number of other contexts, including regular classrooms.
- The FloridaTech blog reports on how information literacy is an important skill in the workplace
These, and the many other posts and reports, convince me that all schools need to be placing a high priority on developing programmes addressing the information literacy needs of students. Failure to do so will be as significant in their lives as if my teachers had failed to ensure I could read and write when I went through school.