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We live in a world fuelled by technology and technological innovation. Digital literacy is about developing the skills we need to live, learn, and work in a society where communication and access to information is increasingly through digital means, like the internet, social media platforms, and mobile apps.
Yet, while its clear technology pervades everything we do and see, I still hear the cries of ‘I don’t know how to use platform X or the Y app’. It is too confusing. I don’t understand it. I just can’t keep up.
I know this because I say it too. Sometimes technology is easier left to the ‘experts’ rather than embracing and learning to use it.
But if we subscribe to this thinking, we risk being left behind and unable to support our young people to thrive, now and into the future.
Picture this. Your young person gets a gift. It’s an Xbox game. All the kids are talking about the game and want to play, but nobody has the game yet. And you have been crowned the world’s ‘best’ parent by giving this gift. Go you!
Young person loads the game. Pushes the start button. And says, “I’ve never played this game, …it doesn’t look anything like the last game I played.” or “I only know how to use a Nintendo Switch”. And so, with a tear in their eye and the stank of failure lingering in the air, you put the game back in the box, find the receipt and return the gift. Opened, but basically in pristine condition, you say to the salesperson, “sorry… it was all too hard”.
Our young people giving up their games or not embracing social media is about as likely as me becoming Tik Tok’s next influencer. That’s just not going to happen!
Young people learn fast and play hard. If they don’t know what to do, or can’t figure it out, they talk to their mates about how to play/create or do whatever they can do to not only to learn but get better and better. My point is this. Learning anything new is hard, or else why bother?
When we talk digital literacy, this is part of the picture we are trying to paint.
Technologies are continually evolving. It is our role to help students understand the range of technologies available and to help them adapt to change. If not at school, when? When they have left school and need to use a new technology at TAFE or in the workplace. At university?
Part of what we need to do is get better at letting students make mistakes and take risks with technology in a context that will support and encourage them when they fail.
And as teachers and parents, we need to learn and fail alongside them or even learn from them. I’m a teacher, but I don’t know everything!
Most technology uses a similar interface to make things happen. Adapting to a range of platforms may be hard, but your brain is wired to learn and up to the challenge.
If anything, using multiple platforms works your brain to develop new pathways. And that can only be a good thing.
Head of Design and Technologies