Developing Children’s Digital Media Skills

I have written occasionally about how I believe the ‘learning how to’ skills cannot be learned in isolation through ‘one off’ workshops etc. (although for many children in schools today, even that would be better than nothing). The learning skills have to be embedded in to the learning experiences themselves.

This goes for skills such as study techniques, mind mapping etc. but also for aspects of building student understanding on academic honesty, plagiarism and research skills. A good starting point is something like an ‘academic honesty policy’, like the team produced when i was at Shri Ram, but I stress again that all that has to get embedded in to the learning, which means it must become part of the essential toolkit of every teacher.

Here’s an interesting article from ‘Mindshift’ applying this to the issue of choices students make about accessing digital materials. The Los Angeles i pad debacle is ample evidence that ‘command and control’ strategies to web filtering etc. are largely ineffective with children. If anything, the more filters you put in place, the more you challenge the children’s ingenuity to find the ways around those filters.

I remember from personal experience in a school where access to Facebook was blocked. I was told confidently that children in that school don’t ‘waste time’ chatting on Facebook. However, one of the first things I saw in one of the computer labs was two students chatting and updating status on FB. When it was investigated it turned out that the students were getting around the filter by going via a proxy site based in Russia to access FB. However, one has to wonder – were the risks worth the effort?

Mindshift Article – Making Children Their Own Filters

Ultimately, two things will make the difference in these matters. The first is the overall school culture, trust relationship between adults and children. A culture that emphasizes on ‘control’ and discipline will likely have continual battles in this area and things will go wrong from time to time. Secondly, every teacher in the school has to be IT savvy and trained to incorporate all the aspects of effective research skills and digital literacy in to lessons and teaching so that they are not delivered only as part of ‘computer lessons’ or as add-on workshops.

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