My Take on Digital Literacy

Digital literacy, to me, is a set of technological skills where mastery and/or operational proficiency is achieved and the individual is conscious and critical of how the digital tool is used, the context of where the tool came from, and is creative in how it can be applied to problem-solve and generate knowledge in a socially conscious way.

I’ve used my iPhone as a key tool to capture student learning and execute many of my lessons.  For the majority of my work I’ve been one on one, working with students with special needs.  Using the video and camera option has come in handy when trying to capture, develop and teach pro-social skills for students on the ASD spectrum.  Using the DVD program “Model Me Kids”, “Social Thinking” concepts, and my iPhone, I worked with small groups of students to make personalized videos of specific social skills.

Using the iPhone as a teaching tool where I was recording student work was including a form of digital literacy into my lessons.  The act of documenting student learning was very much a “technical” approach to digital literacy, whereas “the inquiry, analysis and critique” (Pangrazio, 169) that we did to look at the behaviours, thoughts and feelings within the social context of expected and unexpected behaviours and pro-social behaviour allow my activities to fall into the “techno-social system” of digital literacy.  If I were to recreate these lessons now, I would certainly be more aware and thoughtful about including work around social media safety and potential abuse of the specific technology to try and move more towards a “reconceptualized critical digital literacy” and include my students in a higher level analysis of the tool.


3 Comments on My take on digital literacy

  1. dducheck says:

    Can you go into this a bit more? Did you show videos of accepted social behaviour or did you record your students displaying accepted social behaviour? Or a combo?
    This is interesting either way.
    How did the students respond to it? My brother is a therapist specializing in play therapy, and he advocates getting children to play, and when they have their guard down they reveal and start processing their issues. I was wondering if your students (if filmed) were guarded or liberated by the camera.
    So many questions, but I never heard of this idea before.

    • Nic says:

      I made videos of social behaviour that we had previously talked about and the planned. We used social thinking language “expected” and “unexpected” behaviours in specific examples that were relevant to the students lives, and then wrote, and role-played the scenarios prior to video recording. The students were super comfortable – having already built relationship and trust over previous activities, and we played with the modality to improve social skills. The one student on the ASD spectrum did not really like seeing himself in action after we made the videos, but he was more than willing to make them and I think benefited from the whole process. He did endure watching himself too – though how many of us like seeing our behaviours, voice, etc. captured and watched or even viewed in a photograph. It’s sometimes not easy to look in the mirror. It was really fun for all of us, nonetheless, and according to research, the social skills transfer better when done by the student and in context. We never did capture the unexpected as that would be tricky and certainly could/would cause social anxiety.

  2. keith webster says:

    This is an interesting use of technology in your teaching. I think it’s probably also an example of something that could be done by many teachers 10 or 20 years ago but the tools would have been more cumbersome and this might have affected the learning. One thing I’ve noticed in other settings is that students may prefer an opportunity to view a video of their work on their own. This may not have much utility if the students aren’t up to self-reflection without a teacher’s facilitation.

    I think the unobtrusiveness of a smartphone as a video camera makes a big difference in these situations.


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