'Digital literacy is the ability to identify and use technology confidently, creatively and critically to meet the demands and challenges of living, learning and working in a digital society.'
Associate Professor Jo Coldwell-Neilson, Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment, Deakin University
I have been teaching computer classes at a community college for almost two months now. When I was first offered to teach a computer class, I was both thrilled and a little nervous. I was doubting my computer skills and whether I was knowledgeable enough to be able to teach it. All I can say is: I had no idea how this was gonna go.
There it started; from the very basics of introducing the world of internet to formatting texts and pictures on Google Docs. My students quickly became the wizards of the digital world. Bear in mind that most of those students who are taking computer classes at the community college level have little to no exposure to computers. Where we started and where we are heading now is HUGE and definitely something to celebrate. However, within this process,
more than just teaching my students computer skills, I realized I was creating a bigger impact on them: Creating Linguistically Confident Students. Before we get into that, let's talk about Digital Literacy.
The importance of digital literacy in today's world is a no-brainer. But what does Digital Literacy really mean? According to Associate Professor Jo Coldwell-Neilson, Deakin’s Associate Dean, Teaching and Learning, in the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment; Digital literacy can be defined as ‘the ability to identify and use technology confidently, creatively and critically to meet the demands and challenges of living, learning and working in a digital society.’
Professor Jo Coldwell-Neilson also believes that having a basic foundation will enable you to learn new skills as required. He explains: ‘To me digital literacy is not knowing everything about computers, it’s recognizing when you don’t know something and knowing how to address that.’
When I extrapolate this idea to my computer class, I can easily say that the skills or activities I teach are curated carefully to my students' needs. For example, there are a myriads tools on Google Doc, but I only choose to explain the most important ones that I know my students will need and be able to use most often. The student readiness level is also something to consider when creating new activities and building upon from the previous ones. Week by week, as my students became more competent digitally, I realized that they were also more communicative with me. Computer lessons helped my students to become confident in their English. My students were using the new computer vocabulary to form more complex sentences. Not only they were more confident in their digital skills, they were also more willing to show their progress and communicate with me much confidently in English.
Implementing a new digital skill in your classroom can be challenging in the beginning, but eventually it is going to help your students build better language skills. Seeing your students become confident both in digital literacy and target language is like feeding two birds with one scone! Want to try something new? Here are varied resources I have gathered on developing digital literacy. (It is always a good idea to teach it in context)
CTEP Digital Homeroom on Computer Skills https://ctep.weebly.com/
Digital Learn, Interactive videos, tools and resources https://www.digitallearn.org/
GFC Learn Free: Lots of fun and interactive tutorials https://edu.gcfglobal.org/en/subjects/technology/
For more activities on digital literacy, visit https://atlasabe.org/resources/esl/special-topics-in-esl/digital-literacy/
Want to learn more about Digital Literacy? This brief underlines the importance of digital literacy and presents research-based ways to integrate technology into the ESL environments.