Sunday, April 12, 2015

Digital Literacy

When I first created the Digital Literacy page for my iPad site I took the title literally and included all sorts of great apps to support children's developing literacy skills. Then I read other educators' work, such as Doug Belshaw's, which pointed me in the direction of things like Future Lab's ideas, from It's Not Chalk and Talk Any More

'Digital literacy is a complex and contested term. It is often understood as the ability to participate in a range of critical and creative practices that involve understanding, sharing and creating meaning with different kinds of technology and media ...'

This made me realise that I needed to change my thinking - and the website page! It's taken me a long while getting around to it - and now it is a relatively naked page waiting to be dressed. I need to do it properly, so need to read and reflect.

In their computing guide, CAS make it clear that there are three aspects to the new computing curriculum: computer science, information technology and digital literacy. Their aims for digital literacy are that 

'[All pupils] are responsible, competent, confident and creative users of information and communication technology.' 

though they also acknowledge that the distinction between information technology and digital literacy are open to interpretation. What these aspects do though, is remind us that the new curriculum is not solely about computer science and programming. A lot of people turned their noses up at the new curriculum and complained about the lack of creativity. I wasn't one of them as I think that we have been given carte blanch to interpret the curriculum, carry on doing what we know works well, whilst ensuring that we are teaching essential skills and the area of the old curriculum that most teachers were shying away from - control and modelling. That's not an assumption based on anecdotal evidence - it was the area I was most requested to support during the five years when I worked as an AST and ICT consultant.

So now I am trying to get my head around what digital literacy would look like for children in KS1 and KS2 at our school. I have found a digital literacy skills checklist - Being Digital - from the Open University, which has provided food for thought and is a useful model for my own document. 

My aim for the next half term is to create a meaningful digital literacy page on the ipad site, continue creating some self assessment documents for the computing curriculum, based on my ICT and iPad self assessment documents whilst simultaneously deciding what digital literacy means for our school. Needless to say they go hand in hand - curriculum and assessment.

If you are a regular reader to my posts, you will know that at East Harling we worked together to create a unique new curriculum with values that are meaningful to our school. Each term we share the ways in which we have covered our curriculum and I love hearing what other teachers have done, because there now seems to be very little time in the working week to catch up. We are desperate to hold on to these ideals, whilst working hard to get to grips with the new curriculum and demands of OfSTED and better than expected progress. It is unfortunate that many of the strengths of our children are not measured in their SATs tests, but that's a whole new blog post... 

Because of the aforementioned reasons I don't want to rush, in the same way that we have not rushed into a new assessment without levels system (plus I'm doing this under my assessment coordinator and 'can't let go of ICT'  hat and really must work alongside our computing coordinator on this). Our computing curriculum and assessment methods have to fit in with how we want to prepare our children for secondary school - and life!

If you know of any essential reading to add to my list, I would be very grateful, as I suspect would many other IT folk who read this post! 

Reading list 

Future lab - Digital Literacy Across the Curriculum

Miles Berry - The New Computing Curriculum -some thoughts in fact pretty much everything Miles writes on his site is useful!

Kevin McLaughlin - Digital Literacy in the Primary Classroom

Simon Haughton - Interpreting the New Curriculum Requirements

Somerset learning platform - Digital Literacy

Or if you need a break from reading, then sit back and watch Doug!


  1. It's pleasure to read this post Sheli. I've been looking into digital literacy / digital competence for quite some time and agree whole heartedly with your comments around the current fixation in education on computer science and coding, all of which appears to have forced the more 'traditional' areas of ICT into the background. My own opinion is that digital literacy is equally as important as being able to code or developing computational thinking. In fact, dare I go out on a limb and say that it is more important, as virtually every young person leaving school will need to be digitally literate to effectively function in society today, where as not everyone will need to be able to code. It's interesting that you have picked up on modelling in your post. I've been involved in ICT curriculum support to schools for over 12 years and this (along with data handling) have been consistently a problem area, especially in primary schools. If we are to develop digitally literate pupils then these areas do certainly need addressing.
    I work in Wales and a recent report has recommended a digital competence (literacy) framework be introduced that would sit alongside our current literacy and numeracy frameworks. This would be a statutory document and would mean that every teacher would be a teacher of digital competence from reception to year 13. A big challenge to up-skill all teachers in both primary and secondary education, to deliver all the aspects of what it means for a pupil to be digitally competent (literate).
    I've written a couple of posts on digital literacy and digital competence and if you are interested they can be found here:

    Thanks again for your post :-)

    1. Thank you for taking the time to reply Gareth. Your post looks great - very informative - and will help me extend my thinking about digital literacy. I think that it is essential that schools have some kind of framework in the future and that our children are brought up with the skills and knowledge to use ICT safely, respectfully and thoughtfully, with an awareness of the consequences of their digital footprint.


  3. Sorry Sheli - meeting on my phone isn't the best way!
    Great post - I'd recommend you look at Josie Fraser's digilit leicester project - link in previous comment. Mostly secondary based but many general principles that I'm sure you'll find useful and thought provoking :-)

    1. Thanks Jo - I shall read it when my eyes (and brain) are fresh! Much respect to you commenting by phone - blogger can be tricky enough at the best of times when commenting! Thanks for taking the time to share that.


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