Oped

Living in the digital world

  • Teachers need to possess these digital competencies to be able to teach effectively.
- SAGUN SHRESTHA, Kathmandu

Apr 9, 2019-

After defining the digital literacies needed for pedagogical purposes in Nepal, policymakers, planners and teacher educators can develop special plans and programmes needed to address the current concerns for the effective use of technology in education. At the same time, teachers can assess their own digital skills and identify those that they are yet to gain as delineated by the digital literacy framework. This procedure guides all potential stakeholders for the effective use of technology in education.

In an attempt to define digital literacies that suit our socio-cultural context, we borrow the concept of digital literacies of widely known learning technologists such as Gavin Dudeney, Nicky Hockly and Marc Pegrum. Digital literacy is a broad term which comprises much sub-literacy. They are the digital competencies that we need to possess when we think of integrating information and communications technology in teaching and learning. So they are not only technical skills but also an understanding of the social aspect of the new technologies. Most of the teachers and learners in our context have rich experiences in print and texting literacy, which are basic digital literacies. A little beyond is hypertext literacy, which is linking the source text with the new text in any document that is produced. This literacy has an important role while developing any assignment which enables learners to gain a sort of directional input.

Other literacies, such as search and filtering literacy, are equally in demand. The modern world at times is given the nomenclature ‘the world of information overload or infoxication’. Teachers and learners might get frustrated if they cannot find the information they are looking for with their relatively meaningful efforts. What if they are driven away by the presence of an awful lot of information while they are searching for a specific issue? They need to have search and filtering literacies to get rid of this potential problem. And, of course, in the meantime, teachers also need to build network and participatory literacies which can help them collaborate with their colleagues to deal with any potential concern.

Just using a technological tool is not enough. To what extent we engage our learners in our regular classroom teaching and learning, and how far our learners show their presence in learning, can be equally significant concerns. There is also a need to encourage teachers to be in a wider community of practitioners as guided by network literacy. So the digital involvement of a person in education has a lot of potential. The realisation of these potentials depend on the users’ awareness of them and their interaction with the artefacts and digital environment.

The European Framework for the Digital Competence of Educators has also come up with a very clear list of digital competencies that identify five key areas and 21 competencies. It can also assist us to define the required digital literacies in our context. The first one—information and data literacy—covers browsing, searching and filtering data, information and digital content and the like. And the second key area—literacy related to communication and collaboration—includes interacting, sharing and collaborating through digital technologies and so on.

The third one—literacy related to digital content creation—encompasses developing, integrating and re-elaborating digital content, and the like. In our context, we can list these competencies as the primary literacies which a teacher needs to possess for the integration of tech-tools in the teaching-learning context. The fourth—safety literacy—deals with protecting devices, personal data and so on. The final literacy related to problem-solving incorporates solving technical problems, creatively using digital technologies, identifying digital competence gaps and the like.

These fourth and fifth literacies can be gained by a teacher in the course of using technology in education and during communication with a digital community of practitioners.

The catalogue of digital literacies that we have mentioned above is not an exhaustive list. They can function as a preliminary guide that can primarily help policymakers, teacher educators and teachers. We can set the professional standard of teachers in relation to technology use which can state what the national curriculum expects them to do. The higher education authority of the Government of Nepal can work intensively on defining digital literacies or competencies so that programme designers, educators and teacher trainers will be able to find out how competent our teachers are in using technology in education, and which digital competencies or literacies need to be prioritised based on the data. Eventually, it will also address the ways we can follow to make our teachers better prepared for technology integration, as envisaged by policies such as the School Sector Development Plan.

Shrestha is a PhD student at Dublin City University, Ireland.

Published: 09-04-2019 08:08

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