I believe using digital literacy and technology in work based learning has a huge potential for inclusivity and ensures no learner is left behind.
I am not here to advocate using technology or digital literacy in our practice ‘willy nilly’, or to replace any of the great activities that already work. But I feel it is important that we make sure our learners are equipped for the current and future job market and as practitioners, we are keeping up to date and enhancing the learning experience. “Practitioners need to have the appropriate competencies to make proper use of e-technology otherwise online tools will not be able to enhance work-based learning.” - Morag Harvey
Supporting this, in a report entitled ‘The Impact of Digital Technology on Learning: A Summary for the Education Endowment Foundation’, Prof. Steven Higgins states, “...it is not whether technology is used (or not) which makes the difference, but how well the technology is used to support teaching and learning.”
What is digital literacy?
Digital literacy can be defined as: “The ability to locate, organise, understand, evaluate, and create information using digital technology.” Digitally literate people are proven to be able to communicate and work more efficiently, especially with those who possess the same knowledge and skills.
Digital literacy involves using emerging technologies to communicate meaningfully across technology, language, social, cultural and intellectual barriers (more about those technologies later). The use of Digital Literacy and technology can improve the motivation and attainment of both girls and boys, though the increases are more marked for boys than girls. So why wouldn’t we be using it in our classrooms?!
At this point I feel it important to clarify what Digital Literacy and the use of technology ISN’T. I am not talking about simply maintaining and developing a familiarity with computers and the internet. I am not talking about typing things up on Microsoft Word instead of writing notes, or using Keynote instead of PowerPoint to deliver sessions. It is NOT just doing internet research.
In this modern era, employers are looking for people with a high level of communication and presentation skills. The ability to write a standard word document is no longer enough. Our learners need to be able to speak, collaborate, present, explain and work safely and appropriately using IT and technology. If we don’t ensure our learners use digital literacy and understand how the digital world functions, then we are setting them up to live in a world where they don’t have the creative and innovation skills that are going to be needed in their apprenticeships, jobs and the future economy.
Talking as a practitioner in Word Based Learning, it is my duty to implement tech to future-proof my young people, to reach various learning styles, to collaborate, excited and engage.
What do I want my learners to gain from using technology?
- I want them to build successful relationships and collaborate with peers
- To be able to learn from everyone and connect with a wider network of communities
- To increase their employability skills
- Increased motivation, retention and self esteem
- Learn at their own pace (technology has flexibility and adaptability to differentiated learning)
Routine use of technology and digital literacy is proven to be most successful. So how can you use it in your classroom? Here are just a few of the ways:
- Taking photographs, adding filters & text, positing on social media to celebrate learners success, making trailers or films on iMovie, & uploading to YouTube
- QR codes for learners to scan
- Presenting information digitally, tutor or learner - Piktochart, Popplet, Prezi, PowerPoint, Keynote (so many free apps and websites out there!)
- Internet research, judging the validity of search results and websites. Understanding plagiarism and copyright
- Displaying work online, sharing things on Twitter, & Facebook, file sharing.
- Using Socrative as an assessment tool and to gather learner feedback – available for iPad or online
- Using Moodle to access qualifications and submit assignments, create online lessons
- Learning about how to stay safe on line, cyber bullying and consequences, participating in safer internet days
- Using social media to network, find jobs, tweet about their learning
Here are a just a few examples of how we utilise technology in my classroom:
“An education without technology does not prepare our students with the skills that their world will require. Technology should be ubiquitous in education.” – Tom Witby
Though I am not trained in IT nor do I specialise in teaching this as a route/qualification, I do believe the use of technology has improved my teaching, personal and professional development and increased the outcomes of my learners an immeasurable amount! It won’t replace the practitioner, it will enhance them. So go on, what are you waiting for?
There is a great visual checklist here about the purposeful use of technology from Mark Anderson;
A beginner’s guide to twitter for teachers here;
If you’re interested in following my adventures in the classroom you can find me here:
Louisa Gregory, 28, from Cardiff has been working at ACT as part of the delivery team for three years. Louisa started as an Engagement Tutor and over a year ago progressed to become ACT’s Pre-Apprenticeship Tutor. The Pre-Apprenticeship Programme is an innovative programme that is aimed at fast tracking more able and work ready learners into employment or apprenticeships. The programme has a great progression and success rate and last year Louisa’s learner, Ashleigh Coleman, was awarded the Traineeship Learner of the Year Award.
Louisa is very passionate about work based learning and is very creative and modern when it comes to delivery and this is reflected in the fact that Louisa recently won the Practitioner Award at this Year’s Apprenticeship Awards.