Welcome. You're a teacher who wants to improve your digital literacy to support your teaching practice, unpack the potential uses, and reasons not to use, some of the apps and services that your students are probably using, and to help your students improve their digital literacy.
We haven't attempted to be comprehensive - there are just too many apps and services, and a multitude of ways to use them, to possibly cover - and anyway, the internet is full of some great materials which you can find yourself.
Instead, we've made a selection of the types of apps and services you might be considering using in your teaching. For each we look at some of the issues you could consider and some possible uses of those apps and services. Each of the parts of this course covers a different type of application or service - messaging, social media, video sharing, and gaming.
This course is divided into different versions for teachers, students and parents. The issues covered and the structure of each is broadly the same, but the way we discuss the issues differs. It might be useful to look at the student and parent courses as they may give you some insights into the way that students, parents and teachers can all work together to improve digital literacy.
Why is this important? As an article by Julian Fraillon in Teacher (the Australian Council for Educational Research — ACER) magazine called Working from home and digital literacy – what can we assume? points out:
While examples of highly innovative uses of digital technologies in schools are (rightly) promoted and lauded, the data suggest that these practices are the exceptions rather than the norm.
We would argue that we should be using digital technologies in highly innovative ways, both because they enhance learning experiences and because they increase everyone's digital literacy.
As Fraillon points out in the article, we can't assume that all students are digital natives who have sophisticated knowledge of and skills with information technologies.
But it's not that students have a lack of knowledge about the baseline use of an app, platform or service (looking at any student using Snapchat will convince you of that) but they lack an ability to use them safely, effectively and productively.
In this, students have much in common with teachers (and parents). Our collective level of digital literacy is low. Our knowledge of apps beyond the handful we use every day is sparse, our understanding of privacy and how we can protect it is incomplete, as is our understanding of issues like managing digital footprints.
Faced with the speed of change in all areas of digital technologies it is essential that we all try to improve our digital literacy.
This what this course is about. In it you won't find basic tutorials, but instead materials intended to help you - in concert with your students and their parents - to improve and expand your digital literacy. You will find some framing questions, some data, a set of issues to consider and some examples of innovative uses of a variety of apps, services and platforms in teaching.
What we have provided is not comprehensive or complete and we will be adding to it.
Some teachers may already be well aware of all of these issues, in which case you are already prepared to support your students in developing their digital literacy.
If not, these courses may help you.