During the brief time that I have been teaching, and in particular since I have been more aware of digital literacy and the concepts involved, I have started to become more aware of the mistakes that do occur when learners are completing tasks when using digital learning technologies and tools. Prior to enrolling onto the digital literacy practitioner course I was fairly naïve and very often missed the mistakes being made and certainly wasn’t in a position to address the problems. Now I feel that I am in a much better position to teach the learners solutions and raise the learners’ awareness of the implications of their mistakes. Having now had my eyes opened so to speak, ignorance is no longer a defence!
During a recent session I set a task for the group to complete pertaining to researching ‘legal highs’ and developing a presentation on their findings using a digital presentation tool of their choice, I was, with my newly formed digital literacy awareness, able to identify some of the mistakes that were being made by this particular group. The first issue that I was able to identify was the fact that the learners made no effort to check out the validity and the reliability of the information that they had researched on-line, they presented me with the information as if it was gospel and with an ‘it was on the internet so it must be true’ sort of attitude, it wasn’t until I challenged them on this attitude that they realised that much of the information they had presented was in fact from unreliable sources in the form of the company’s that sell the legal highs and were in fact biased in their description that the drugs were safe to use. Much of the information that the learners presented was also out of date, some of it dating back to 2002, they had simply not checked and soon agreed that much of the information would now have been changed or be obsolete.
The learners also admitted that they had simply ‘cut and pasted’ much of the information that they presented and hadn’t really taken the time to check out the information’s validity. The group had also created a fantastic visual presentation using images that were in fact copyrighted and did not provide any referencing or hadn’t cited the original author. It was only when I informed them of the term ‘plagiarism’ and its implications should it be repeated in a formal college environment, that they understood the seriousness of their mistakes.
Whilst reflecting on my leaner’s mistakes during sessions involving aspects of digital literacy learning, I have been able to identify a whole range of what may be seen as very simple mistakes that are often made, regardless of the learner’s levels. One of the most common is learners forgetting their log on or their password and being unable to participate or at least waste time whilst a new one is set. Sometimes learners have no concept of internet security and fail to set privacy settings accordingly, leaving themselves open to unscrupulous people to abuse their work. If clear instructions and scaffolding is not provided a learner may never accomplish a task because they can simply get lost in cyber space and sometimes need a bit of support to plan and execute their work. If left to their own devices a learner can often choose unsuitable tools to complete a task and are unable to complete their task, get frustrated and give up.
Repeatedly making mistakes when trying to complete tasks leads to a demotivated learner, a learner that may well choose not to have a go, they may choose not to try and get creative, and they may choose not to engage at all. As a teacher it is my responsibility to turn every mistake into a learning opportunity and to provide all the support and scaffolding they need to complete the task given.
2.4 Analyse the process and procedures that digital literacy learners use.
Having observed my learners complete tasks in the classroom environment I have become aware of the difference in approaches that each learner takes in order to complete a task. Very often the learner makes no effort whatsover to actually sit down and plan what they are going to do, insted they jump straight in and have no real strategy in place. It would appear that unless specifically told most of my learners, at their current level, lack the ability to put a procedure in place to complete a task, they need lots of support, encouragement and scaffolding. If left to their own devices they will accomplish a task but their lack of planning means they take the long and frustrating way around. The learners need to be given step by step instructions on how to complete the task. However; even with a clear set out procedure to follow , my learners often get lost in cyber space by not following or ignoring the instructions! In my experience.
It would appear that the process that my learners go through to accomplish a task lacks any real structure, they do get there in the end, but it is usually through a series of mistakes. They act on impulse, get frustrated, re-evaluate and modify. Which is fine, as they are learning and learning is most definitely taking place. They seem to approach a digital literacy task in the same way that they might approach a computer game, get stuck in and battle their way through, in a sense learning by doing.
Working at a higher level with my fellow tutors, I can see that, as a group the process and procedures can be very different than when at a lower level. The group that I was a part of quickly set about establishing roles within the group, procedures were quickly established, each group member knew exactly what they needed to do to complete the task. Communication within the group was excellent, enabling all group members to put together a plan and we then went on to create the animation that we had planned. Following the creation of the cartoon we were then able to watch it and evaluate and made changes where necessary. Following the completion of the task the group were able to reflect on what we had done and identify, procedures, mistakes made and imrpovments that could be made should we repeat the task. It would appeatr that our level, our ability to plan, process and create a procedure came quite naturally due to previous experience and training.
Comparing the approaches made by two very different groups of people has been valuable to see the different approaches being made and this has allowed me to formulate in my mind the different approaches that I will need to take when teaching learners at different levels.