In the grade 8 math class I have taught many years, I have an budget assignment that I gave every year. In the assignment each student has to find a job, calculate gross and net income, complete a pay stub and create a budget (focusing on using fractional percents) for one month of living. They have to budget for cost of shelter, food, transportation, clothing, furniture etc. In the past students would find their jobs and apartment to rent in the newspaper and cut items out of flyers and catalogues which they would then paste on posters to show items that they wanted to purchase. Over the years this assignment has evolved into an assignment that helps develop digital literacy as well as showing students some of the realities of life when they are no longer living at home.
A few years ago I started using a digital format and every aspect of assignment was done online. What surprised me most was how the students were not as digitally literate as I would of thought considering the amount of time they spend on computers.
From chapter on one on Fundamental Change in Education: “Thus teachers and instructors are faced with a massive challenge of change. How can we ensure that we are developing the kinds of graduates from our courses and programs that are fit for an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous future? What should we continue to protect in our teaching methods (and institutions), and what needs to change?”
This idea has had an impact on my teaching and changes that I need to make in order to further the digital literacy of my students as opposed to being stuck in “old” ways of teaching. In this assignment students are now required to find a job and an apartment online. Build their own online pays stub, make a spreadsheet for their budget, shop online and present everything in a powerpoint that they share with the class. Learning outcomes based on problem solving, communication and creativity are now achieved in this online format.
It sounds like a really useful modern development of your assignment. I think sending students out to use real-world tools that might not have the best design forces them to work through the trouble-shooting skills they need to get things done.
There are so many vital life-tasks that can only (or reasonably only) be completed online. Students are proficient at the tools they use in the ways that they use them (so if we could get a word processor into XBox then maybe that would be a step forward).