Before studying this area of participating in the digital world, I had initially presumed that digital fluency was something that we all had. However, I now understand digital fluency to be the ability to use digital technology in a confident manner (Howell, 2012, p. 13). Although we are all members of a global information society, I am now beginning to understand that not all people are digitally fluent and that what I had thought of as digital fluency was more directed to the social aspects which seem to be restricted to recreational uses of technology rather than for educational purposes. (Howell, 2012, p. 13). I have learned the need for teachers to develop a digital pedagogy for children to become digitally fluent during their schooling so they can carry these skills into post-school life.
Teaching in a digital world means that students today have different needs, skills, goals, and requirements than those from previous generations (Howell, 2012, p. 13). Now that technology is being increasingly used for educational purposes, Multi-functional applications, advanced hardware, and network technology offer new possibilities for supporting new ways of learning, collaborating and communicating information (Wang, Wiesemes & Gibbons, 2012, p. 570). The definitions of computer literacy and digital fluency are now extended and separates those who just ‘look up information on the web, use a computer and send emails’ to the analogy of ‘learning and mastering a foreign language’ (Wang, Wiesemes & Gibbons, 2012, p. 571).
Children who were born from the 1980s onwards have grown up with exposure to the Internet and mobile devices. These children are ‘digital natives’ (Howell, 2012, p. 6) who think and process information fundamentally differently from the generations before them, the ‘digital immigrants’ (Howell, 2012, p. 6) who have learned to use technology at some stage in their adult lives (Wang, Myers & Sundaram, 2013, p. 409). Digital fluency has become a vital concept to explore technology-enhanced learning.
To participate in the digital world, both teachers and students need to develop digital fluency (National Research Council, 1999) as cited by (Santos & Marilla, 2013). The pedagogical uses of digital technologies for learning are relevant even to pre-services teachers like myself.
Howell, J. (2012) Teaching with ICT: Digital pedagogies for collaboration and creativity. Oxford University Press. Australia and New Zealand.
Santos, L., & Marilla, D. (2013) Teacher’s Digital Fluency: A New Competence for Foreign Language Teaching. Revista Brasileira de Linguística Aplicada. Vol.13(3). Retrieved from: http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1984-63982013000300003&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en
Wang, R., Wiesemes, R., & Gibbins, C. (2012) Developing digital fluency through ubiquitous mobile devices: Findings from a small-scale study. Computers & Education. Vol 58(1). Retrieved from: http://www.sciencedirect.com.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/science/article/pii/S0360131511002193
Wang, Q., Myers, M., & Sundaram, D. (2013) Digital natives and digital immigrants. Business & Information Systems Engineering. Vol.5(6). Retrieved from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12599-013-0296-y#/page-1
Image curtesy of:
Morin, R (2016) Girl and father generational divide. Retrieved from: http://curatti.com/generation-c-family-affair/