Digital Classrooms and Why They’re Not What You Think

What do you think of when you hear the words digital literacy?  Do you think of your ability to use a computer? Do you think of how well you can use an app?  What about if you can solve a problem with software or hardware? None of these are what constitute digital literacy!

 

First, I want to bring forth a really good article that pertains to digital literacy in the classroom. This article is written by Maha Bali, who is an associate professor of practice at the center for learning and teaching at the American University in Cairo, Egypt.  

 

In the beginning of the article, Bali points out the difference between digital skills and literacies. She says that “digital skills focus on what and how. Digital literacy focuses on why, when, who, and for whom”(Maha Bali). We often hear about people who are apprehensive to try new technology because they don’t think they are digitally literate. Whether this is a student or a teacher, they are often selling themselves short. Sure, they may not know how to use a certain technology, but that is a digital skill, not digital literacy. This feeling of not knowing and lack of confidence in trying something new shouldn’t be avoided because it allows us to grow and open up to ne ideas.

 

Digital literacy is something that needs to be understood because we are in an era where digital platforms and technologies are here to stay. Not everyone has to be great at using technology, but understanding the information we are receiving is key. "For example, in the case of fake news, many students are quick to accept the first thing they read as the truth." This is where digital literacy comes in. If students understand the why, who, when, and for whom, they will be able to use their literacy to critically analyze anything. Ideally, they will take the skill of digital literacy and apply it to more than just the articles they read. The hope would be that they also apply this to their social media, and online interactions.

 

Digital literacy is often what is missing when it comes to the current problem of cyberbullying and plagiarism. People don’t understand certain components of who they are addressing because they can’t physically see the person—there isn’t a clear understanding that there is someone else behind a screen who has feelings, or who has worked very hard to produce a piece of work.

 

I think digital literacy is going to be a very important factor in future classrooms, and present classrooms. You don’t have to be digitally skilled to create a great classroom environment, but you should be able to give students guidance on the use of the internet.  The internet can be misleading and requires careful thought to navigate. I hope digital literacy can help students become more aware about the online world and and become more conscious about the reality of things?

Thanks for reading!

Steph