Digital fluency is using technology and manipulating technological knowledge and skills to use unknown technology comfortably. Howell (2014) describes digital fluency as an ongoing process, as students are continuously engaging with new technologies. This can also be referred to as lifelong learning. A part of a teacher’s role is to develop digital fluency in students so they are critical evaluators and active digital participants who can make technologies work for their purpose. The Australian Curriculum describes this as developing students’ ability to manage and operate ICT (Information and Communication Technology) to meet their learning needs (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), 2015). Therefore, it is a teacher’s responsibility to engage students in many different technologies for many different purposes so they become digitally fluent for lifelong learning.
To support students in becoming digitally fluent teachers must take a multifaceted approach which allow students to think creatively and critically as they explore technology. Howell (2014) describes two aspects of effective learning of technology which support digital fluency as Creative activity and Purposeful activity. Creative activity involves authentic learning tasks which allow students to use their experience to build on prior knowledge and learn new skills. Students become “digital content creators” who not only use technology to seek information and entertainment but they contribute for a purpose (Howell, 2015, p 136). However, it is important to consider the true outcome being assessed. While it is in the curriculum for students to use, develop and learn new skills with technology it is priority they learn to communicate and critically evaluate information using technology.
Purposeful activity is interlocked with students becoming content creators and communicating beyond the classroom. Through engagement with multiple technologies students can learn to use technology for their individual purpose. Howell (2014) states Purposeful activity supports students in learning how to make technology work for them and become technology innovators. As a teacher this can mean allowing students to select their own choice of technology to use and collaborate with peers to source the best technology for the purpose.
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Image: Muir, 2013.
‘It is important to consider why we are aiming for digital fluency. It is not simply for students to be able to create meaningless digital artefacts but to help them become active digital participants and problem solvers.’
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA]. (2015). Information and communication technology (ICT) capability. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/GeneralCapabilities/Pdf/ICT
Briggs, S. (2014). Digital fluency cartoon [Image]. Retrieved from http://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/digital-literacy-skills/
Howell, J. (2014). Teaching with ICT: Digital pedagogies for collaboration and creativity. South Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.
Muir, M. (2013). What do you want kids to do with technology? [Image]. Retrieved from https://multiplepathways.wordpress.com/2013/12/02/2-the-real-power-of-technology-in-schools/