Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A myth and a hoax

Here's a spot-on,  "babies need milk" Chronicle article posted recently on The Myth of the Tech-Savvy Student.

Conclusion I draw from the piece: we've said it often and long enough that it should be a given in higher education:
  • we have an obligation to ensure that our students graduate with a digital literacy
  • that literacy should not be assumed or confused with an ease from technologies built on games, smartphones, iPods, or electronic texting and shopping
  • thoughtful technology should be infused throughout the curriculum
  • thoughtful leadership should be insisting on digital literacy with the same commitment we put into writing and critical thinking. (Don't get me started on our neglect of quantitative literacy; that's a whole new blog post.)
  • it should happen yesterday!
But, as the article points out, the majority of HE faculty (and certainly the ones with tenure and the most power in defining curriculum), are aging baby boomers who keep a distance from the fast-paced changing world of technology. They tell students that laptops aren't allowed in class. They suggest that Google is not to be used to double-check or refute the spoon-fed, expert knowledge they are imparting to the students via their lecture. They deny the value of crowd-sourced knowledge. They use the LMS in uninteresting and classroom-replicating ways. They disagree with everything the digital generation believes to be true about collective and participatory knowledge and learning.

They miss a great opportunity to teach, to define a scholarly approach to digital skill-building, to give our learners the tools and skills they'll need for the world we will all be facing.

Our students may be gadget-savvy, but most of them are not yet digitally literate. Neither are the faculty. If one wanted to start somewhere to begin thinking about what digital literacy might look like, one would try the mother of crowd-sourced knowledge, Wikipedia and notice how sad their section on digital literacy in education appears. WE could change that, if we tried.

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