Skills for Today and Tomorrow

Digital literacies are not the same as knowing how to use Word or Excel. Nor are they the same as computer science. Digital literacies are all the skills involved in online learning (and I am not referring to distance education here), managing one’s identity online, navigating social media platforms with confidence,  being an active and responsible netizen, creating and participating in the online world.

Technology is changing so quickly that in some years time, it will be so seamlessly integrated in our lives that today’s discussions on digital technology in education will appear baffling to those in the future. Predictions are never that simple to make, nevertheless I’d like to share some working skills which will certainly be required in the future – skills which already are required today:

How do you ensure that today’s generation will be prepared for their tomorrows?

References:

Blooming Orange – Bloom’s Taxonomy Helpful Verbs Poster - Learning Today

Computer Science is not Digital Literacy - Josie Fraser

Digital Literacy can Boost Employability and Improve Student Experience – Sarah Knight

Doomed or Lucky? Predicting the Future of the Internet Generation - Tina Barseghia

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14 thoughts on “Skills for Today and Tomorrow

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  7. Hi Ana, thanks for all of your recent posts. I found them informative and interesting. It is very helpful to learn from someone who has much more experience of social media and educational technology. I agree that social networking is an excellent way for me as a professional to keep up to date and with new learning. I am finding twitter to be my favourite tool in this respect, which to be honest is something of a surprise.
    I also agree that enhanced digital literacy offers our students greater opportunities for making their own voices heard.
    However, I am unsure as to the effectiveness of content learning in this way for L2 learners. I have searched for (but have not found) research which indicates the levels of language required to interact effectively with content based materials on the web. I am unsure of the extent to which this is a hindrance – from what I have seen and heard anecdotally I suspect it must be.
    It is a reality that the number one priority of all content teachers has and will always be to support the students as they learn to demonstrate achievement of the learning outcomes of the course. The lifelong learning outcomes whilst of great long term importance become less urgent when the teacher knows the student will face a system wide Multiple Choice final assessment in a few weeks. How we balance those competing tensions is the difficult bit. I suppose there is an argument which holds that the two are not necessarily “competing” but I have yet to meet a practising teacher who feels otherwise.
    I’m left wondering if our aim should rather be to encourage students to use social media to keep themselves up to date in their chosen field of study – but not necessarily to grade their efforts at doing so. – to use it for purely formative rather than summative assessment. The problem we then run into is how to motivate the students to do something that doesn’t carry a grade. Though I suspect this is a problem which predates social media by a couple of millennia at least :)

    • Hi Andrew,

      Thanking you taking time to visit and to share your thoughts.

      In regard to your reflections:

      1 – I think that interacting with web materials or published materials in a L2 (second language) will pose the same challenge for learners. Before the wide spread access to the internet, I used articles from The Economist and The Financial Times (among other business sources) for my classes (I was teaching at a Business School at the time). My students faced the same challenges off-line as they would have on-line; with the exception that when working online, content students have quick access to dictionaries and thesauruses – thus saving time as they don’t always have a hard printed copy with them.

      2 – Often the challenge for content subjects is not so much the language of the source of materials (online or hard copy) but the cultural usage of the language; that poses many invisible difficulties for speakers of other languages when they study in English.

      3 – When I taught writing for the Medical Sciences, regrettably it was before Web 2.0; today I sometimes think of all the interactive wealth there is which would have been motivating for my students – with the added bonus of visuals to help remember vocabulary and other matters related to the medical sciences.

      4 – There are a number of tools and platforms which can be used for content subjects; Popplet is one which comes to mind and there are other tools which create diagrams, timelines etc. Obviously the choice of tool depends on the task, purpose and outcomes that should be achieved. Sometimes even asking students to create their own mini-surveys is really motivating for them; they can use their data for presentations and to share with the class. This can lead to discussions and other activities in the classroom.

      5 – I understand exactly how you feel about the looming exams. The course I have been teaching this current academic year has more assessment than teaching, sometimes taking up 4 days of assessing and only 1 day of teaching. Nevertheless, although I follow what has been established for teachers to do, I still find ways to introduce digital activities to enhance students’ learning experience. When it comes to learner-autonomy, there is a wealth of tools and platforms to share with learners, however, having tried with my own students and not really having seen much success, I now don’t try not to overwhelm them too much with self-study tasks (other than the ones they need to do for exam prep).

      6 – Because I am working with female students, I don’t use social media in my classes. I use Edmodo, which is a safe, closed learning management system so that the students have no contact with males with my knowledge. If I was teaching in another context, I would be using social media such as Twitter.

      7 – Lastly, yes, it is certainly not easy to get students to engage in tasks if there is no grade attached! However, encouraging them to engage in social media such as Twitter is already a step forward. Many of them are already on Facebook (at least in my experience when I taught boys here in the UAE, they were all on Facebook). I think how they use social media will depend on their academic maturity; for example, a post-grad student will see more usefulness than for example, a Foundation student who is already struggling with so many changes in their academic environment and demands.

      Would love to know what you decide to do! :-)

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