Think Digital Native means Digital Literate? Think again.

Agnier Picau, program director at the Learning Agency Lab, spent a lot of time talking to teachers in 2020. She was part of a research team on how to create a great writing feedback tool. Consider programs for students that can automatically generate suggestions or scores based on their writing.

During that conversation, Pico began to listen to teachers repeatedly and repeatedly describe the same challenge. No matter what level of education they delivered in high school or high school, teachers had students who struggled to use digital learning platforms or to type without having to work hard on the keyboard.

“In fact, it was such a frequent remark that the teacher didn’t bring it, so I started asking questions,” says Piku. “We assume that students are digitally fluent because we have more technology around us than ever before. At the same time, when it comes to learning typing or using platforms, students often do not receive any form of formal computer-skills training. ”

Piku says it’s time to dispel the misconception that students will understand technology tools as they grow up in the digital age. And that has changed the way her own team thinks about the design of the algorithms she has developed.

“Tools need to be more user-friendly than they are,” says Piku. “They have to be attractive – and really easy for students to access and use, and for teachers as well.”

Commitment matters

It turned out that students have digital skills, but they do not have the digital literacy required to do their school work. Sometimes customer sites know what they know by using a transfer – zoom in, for example – but not always.

“Sometimes it’s not even the actual writing process that challenges students. It takes time for them to type on the keyboard because they are not used to typing with five fingers, ”says Picau. “Some [teachers] Students who have written full essays on their phones. ”

Piku goes on to say that there is a difference in the way students use the device to scroll through YouTube videos. The first is passive, and the second requires careful commitment.

A teacher who runs an asynchronous class reported that some students did well until question time, where they would get zero marks.

Picu says students may feel they can read questions for a test or quiz as quickly as they do with other tools. “It’s the same as I scroll on Instagram.”

Josh Flaherty can certify it in his class at Community Lab School, which is part of the Albemarle County Public School System in Virginia. In addition to working as a high school head teacher and IB coordinator, he teaches math.

“The idea is that kids, especially those in high-school age, who are digitally native and can easily learn digital devices. Yes, they can play video games or use social media,” Flaherty says, goes on to say, They may not be good at not being familiar. “

Flaherty says students are ready to find problems that pop up with their own learning platforms. When epidemics pushed classes online, he said, he figured out how to group chat on the zoom with friends in different classes. But that level of dedication only transfers to the lessons if they are interested in the subject.

His school district has a one-to-one device policy, so students get a laptop on the first day of school after entering sixth grade. Despite promoting students ’digital literacy, it still stays away from any technology tool that requires pioneering in many directions. Flaherty says students need fewer bars for admission so they can dive directly into the activity.

“The more front-loading you have, the more interest you have,” says Flaherty. “That’s where teaching comes in, creating fun activities for them – with a voice for students and a place for students to choose.”

Helping teachers Helping students

In the International Literacy Association “What’s hot in literacy” In a report published in 2020, 49 per cent of literacy professionals said they wanted more professional development on the “use of digital resources to support literacy education”. This came as a surprise to researchers, who also reported that professionals are divided over whether digital literacy is getting the right attention: 26 percent thought they deserved less attention, while 25 percent thought they deserved more. .

Piku says her conversations with teachers show that the usefulness of the digital tool goes beyond the interface. After all, if students don’t understand it, there’s no value in giving feedback on the writing.

One of the teachers specifically assigned by Pico tried a writing platform that didn’t give users a grading rubric. The teacher did 90 repetitions before she got perfect marks.

An important question, Piku says, is how does the tool respond to students? “If they are working on this tool with scores and no explanation on how to get high scores, it could be super demotivating.”

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