Digital Literacy

City-wide school staff digital literacy network

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DigiLit Network 6Just before Christmas 2015, we launched a call to secondary and special education schools across the city to participate in a new peer led network, designed to focus supporting school staff digital literacy and CPD. The network builds on the DigiLit Leicester project, which successfully established a process for identifying strengths and gaps in digital literacy, and improving skills and confidence school and city-wide.

ICT investment in Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme has provided all city mainstream secondary and special education secondary schools in the city with world-class technology designed to support effective teaching and learning, connect communities and provide opportunities for teachers and learners to collaborate across the city and beyond. Over the last 5 years we have rebuilt and refurbished 19 schools, completing a programme which benefits over 20,000 young people.

Peer-led digital literacy networkDigiLit network 3

Peer network leads will ensure that staff at all levels continue to be supported in improving skills and developing their practice. The new network represents 10 city schools:

Mahala Active-Nemaura, Head of Computer Science, The Lancaster School

Antoinette Bouwens,Business Manager, St Paul’s Catholic School

Will Carter, Director of Music, English Martyrs’ Catholic School

Natalie Coley and Julie Eden, Nether Hall School

Josie Franklin, ICT/Computing/Computer Science Teacher, Moat Community College

Kitesh Mistry, Lead Teacher: Digital Learning, Rushey Mead Academy

Fabienne Preston, Head of Modern Foreign Languages, Crown Hills Community College

James Rolfe, ICT Lead and Head of Science, Judgemeadow Community College

Tony Tompkins, College Leader – New Technology, The City of Leicester College

Elsbeth Woodgate, Educational Technologist, Ellesmere College

Mahala Active-Nemaura and Tony Tompkins will be taking responsibility for co-ordination the network, which will run until July 2017. Members will also be working with Leicester’s Open Schools Network, to ensure all schools take advantage of the city councils work in relation to open educational licensing and support for open practice.

DigiLit Network 7Digital literacy in focus

Each school has selected a strand of the DigiLit Leicester framework to focus on during the lifetime of the project, and will be focusing on raising confidence and competence levels in this area. Schools were free to select their prefered area from the six framework strands –

  • Assessment and Feedback
  • Communication, Collaboration and Participation
  • Creating and Sharing
  • E-Safety and Online Identity
  • Finding, Evaluating and Organising
  • Technology supported Professional Development

Interestingly, all participating schools selected one of three strands: Assessment and Feedback, Communication, Collaboration and Participation, or Technology supported professional Development – giving us three working groups.

You can find out more about the framework strands and levels here.

The work of the networkDigiLit Network 4

The Peer Network Leads will:

  • Work in partnership with the Open Schools Network, to ensure work completed compliments and supports the development, implementation and identification of good practice in open education.
  • Commit to developing their own specialist knowledge of the chosen digital literacy strand area, as well as complimentary knowledge relating to open education, open educational resources and open licences.
  • Support staff at their school in relation to the development of practice supported by the chosen digital literacy strand, ensuring progression amongst all staff but particularly in relation to staff currently working at Entry level.
  • Ensure that activities undertaken support the school improvement plan and in particular, learner outcomes and quality of teaching.
  • Be an active member of the DigiLit Leicester Network in Leicester – supporting other members, encouraging primary school participation, sharing approaches and ideas, and promoting your work and the work of the other network members.
  • Document and share practice and any high quality resources created in the context of the project under open licence, in line with Leicester City Council recommendations.

 Congratulations to all participating schools and good luck for the year ahead!

 DigiLit network 2

 

 

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Print Ready OER Schools Guidance

OER GuidanceStaff at Hazel Primary School in Leicester taking part in Open Education Week

 

Very happy to share this print ready version of the Open Educational Resources Guidance for Schools document:
OER Guidance for Schools 2015 print version (PDF)

This version includes the four key guidance documents – Open education and the schools sector; Understanding open licensing; Finding and remixing openly licensed resources; and Openly licensing and sharing your resources. It also includes a very nice cover.

The OER Guidance for Schools was originally commissioned by Leicester City Council as part of the DigiLit Leicester project. In November 2014, the African Virtual University translated the OER Guidance into French and Portuguese, for use on their teacher educator programmes.

The original guidance can be accessed at http://schools.leicester.gov.uk/openeducation and is also available below, shared under open licence (CC-BY 4.0) for other educators to use and build on. All documents were updated in January 2015.

Main guidance documents, G0-G4 all in one PDF, with cover:

Main guidance documents, as individual PDF files:

Supporting Documents (activities, walk-throughs and information) (PDF)

All documents are available in editable versions (Word and ODT) from http://schools.leicester.gov.uk/openeducation

 

 

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Developing a digital literacy framework

Lucy Atkins and I delivered a workshop at the Association for Learning Technology annual conference, ALT-C 2014, looking at staff digital literacy. We used the DigiLit Leicester Framework strands, descriptors and questions to create two sets of worksheets (which you can download at the bottom of this post) to help structure the session. Workshop participants were mainly working in universities and further education. The aim of the workshop was to use the framework resources to model a practice embedded approach to context/workplace specific digital literacy. In Leicester, we use the framework as a self-reflective tool, to support individual staff members and schools in better understanding their strengths, and any gaps in knowledge and skills they might have. We also use it as a strategic framework to understand the city wide picture and support staff and organisational development.

The first set includes seven worksheets – a high level description of each of the six DigiLit Leicester strands  – Assessment and Feedback; Communication, Collaboration and Participation; Creating and Sharing; E-Safety and Online Identity; Finding, Evaluating and Organising; and Technology supported Professional Development, along with a mystery strand sheet (below) that we included so that participants could come up with their own digital literacy strand area.

Mystery Strand

Each sheet also includes the description of the four levels we work with (Entry, Core, Developer and Pioneer, with the descriptions being the same for each strand), as a prompt to participants.

We asked everyone work with another person or in a small group, and to either pick an existing strand area (with Assessment and Feedback being the most popular) or come up with their own – one of the groups for example chose to focus on ‘online course delivery’ as a competency area, and another chose to look at digital literacy for higher education learners.  We then gave all of the teams 15 minutes, flipchart sheets and marker pens to develop their own ideas, descriptions or questions relating to their chosen strand, practically framing these through how the strand would look at each of the four levels.

It was a busy and successful workshop – a lot of discussion was generated and groups worked hard at getting to grips with linking their ideas to practice. The DigiLit Leicester Framework has been developed with and for secondary and special school staff, so the stands and questions directly relate to them. However, much of the actual content is relevant and transferable to other groups – working within HE, FE, primary or adult education, or within a different profession or sector. This workshop demonstrated how the framework content can be used to scaffold and support organisations looking to take a strategic approach to understanding what the key digital literacy areas are most relevant to a particular group are. You can see how we have made use of the framework to structure staff development work in Leicester schools by looking at our 2014 staff digital literacy survey results, and our recent project activities report.

Assessment and feedback flipchart sheetDistance learning flipchart sheet

 

Teams fed back to the whole group on their discussion and initial thinking. We also provided groups with copies of our framework statements, linked to each level for the six strand areas.

 

Communication, collaboration and participation strand statments

These form the basis of the survey we’ve carried out city wide, with staff asked to mark the four statements groups as ‘none’ ‘some’ or ‘all’ (you can find more information about the survey methodology in the 2014 report).

If you’d like to use the worksheets to structure your own workshop or as a starting point to develop your own digital literacy framework, please do:

Pack 1 worksheets: strand and level descriptions PDF

Pack 1 worksheets: strand and level descriptions Word

Pack 2 worksheets: strand statements PDF

Pack 2 worksheets: strand statements Word

 

 

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The digital native question

NIACE debate 2014

Picture credit: Sarah Knight

 

NIACE, the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (the UK’s lead organisation for lifelong learning) held its annual digital learning conference last week. I was very happy to be invited to contribute to the conference debate, ably chaired by Go On UK CEO Rachel Neaman.

Panellist were invited to put forward and argue for a key action to help “prepare learners for life, work and learning in the digital age”. My proposal was that we stop using the term ‘digital native’ to characterise young people (and by extension, the term ‘digital immigrant’ to describe not so young people). My notes are here:

The term ‘digital natives’ was coined by Marc Prensky in 2001. It’s the most popular of several terms that characterise young people as different from those born before the early-to-mid 1980s –and brought up in a society where mobile, gaming and internet based technologies have become pervasive. Prensky describes this group as fundamentally different from those born later – not just culturally but neurologically – his writing at this time suggests that engagement with (then) new technologies from an early age means that the brain development of digital natives is significantly different from previous generations. Digital natives have grown up with technologies, and are “used to receiving information really fast. They like to parallel process and multi-task. They prefer their graphics before their text rather than the opposite. They prefer random access (like hypertext). They function best when networked. They thrive on instant gratification and frequent rewards. They prefer games to “serious” work” (Prensky, 2001). Digital immigrants have difficulty in accessing new technological cultures and practices, and are characterised as learning “…like all immigrants, some better than others – to adapt to their environment,” But “…they always retain, to some degree, their “accent,” that is, their foot in the past” (Prensky, 2001).

This idea of a clear-cut, homogeneous generational divide has been disputed by researchers since at least 2006 – see for example, Digital Na(t)ives? Variation in Internet Skills and Uses among Members of the “Net Generation” (Hargittai, 2010); The Net Generation and Digital Natives (Jones & Shao, 2011); Beyond the Net Generation Debate: A Comparison of Digital Learners in Face-to-Face and Virtual Universities (Gros et al, 2012).

The immigrants/native dichotomy has however persisted in its popularity. ‘Digital native’ recently made it on to the shortlist for the Chambers Dictionary word of the year and the nostalgic spectre of digital immigrants is periodically raised again. I’d argue that this popularity in part is down to its easy adaptability into a blunt metaphor of difference. This populist use equates young people’s immersion and proximity to mobile, gaming and web-based technologies with knowledge, skills and confidence. Young people are ‘good’ at tech stuff, older people aren’t. ‘Tech stuff’ is a thing, rather than a diverse, overlapping and developing landscape of technologies, practices and environments.

Assumptions about young people’s familiarity with technologies risk exacerbating inequality. Access to devices and connectivity isn’t equal across all young people, and neither is support in developing skills – from peers, parent/carers, or schools, equally distributed. Socioeconomic status remains a key issue in relation to access, with a small but significant number of young people having very limited access.

While the majority of young people do have more routine access, it certainly doesn’t seem inevitable that these young people have innately developed the kinds of creative and critical skills that support active citizenship in digital environments. Ofcom’s 2014 Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitude Report reports improvements in young people’s understanding of search engine results, with just over half (52%) of 12-15s who use search engines now understanding that some of the sites returned will be truthful and some won’t be, compared to 45% in 2013. While the picture in terms of basic digital literacy is improving, it’s still a long way from the glossy wholesale assumptions called up by the idea of a ‘digital native’

Search engine understanding Ofcom 2014

We need to continue to challenge unhelpful assumptions and stereotypes about people based on when they happened to be born, and ask people what they mean when they use these terms. Native and immigrant assumptions obscure the actual picture for both younger and older people. We need to ensure learner of all ages have access to the  knowledge and skills necessary to make to most of technology in terms of educational, social and economic opportunities and challenges.

 

 

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Secondary School Staff Digital Literacy – 2014 survey results

Digilit Leicester 2014 findings - infograph

The DigiLit Leicester project is a two year collaboration between Leicester City Council, De Montfort University and 23 secondary and specialist education schools. Leicester’s secondary and SEN schools collectively support over 20,000 learners each year, with the majority of learners being between 11 and 16 years old. The project focuses on supporting secondary school staff in developing their digital literacy knowledge, skills and practice.

A digital literacy framework was developed in consultation with the schools, embedding digital literacy within secondary school practice. From this, an online survey was developed, designed to support staff in reflecting on their use of technology to support teaching and learning, and to provide individual staff members, schools and the Council with information to inform future planning around professional development.

This year’s findings!

The survey was opened for a second time between March and May 2014, seeing an increase in engagement from schools. 701 members of staff completed the survey in 2014, or 39% of all eligible staff, with 209 taking part for the second time in 2013.

Headlines for the 2014 survey findings are:

  • 56% of staff across the city who participated in the survey classified their skills and confidence at the highest level – Pioneer – in one or more of the six key digital literacy areas.
  • 23% of all those who participated in the survey placed themselves at Entry level in one or more of the six key areas.
  • Staff rate their skills and confidence highest in the area of E-Safety and Online Identity, with 43.5% of respondents scoring at Pioneer level.
  • Staff feel least confident in the area of Communication, Collaboration and Participation, with 9% of staff rating themselves as Entry level and 38.7% falling within the lower levels of the framework (at either Entry or Core level).
  • In Creating and Sharing , 42.1% of staff rated their skills and confidence in the lower levels of the framework (Entry and Core levels).
  • Analysis comparing the survey data from 2013 and 2014 shows that a statistically significant change in staff confidence has occurred, with 21% of participants registering an increase in their skills and confidence. Levels achieved increased in five of the six key areas (excluding E-Safety and Online Identity, where levels were already high).

You can find out more by downloading a copy of the report here:

DigiLit Leicester 2014 Survey Report (Word)

DigiLit Leicester 2014 Survey Report (PDF)

Recommendations

Share and promote Pioneer practice

1. Ensure that the work being done by city Pioneers is promoted and shared more widely. Promote and support the use of open licences to enable wider discovery, use and reuse of educational resources produced by city staff.

2. Provide encouragement, opportunity and recognition to Pioneers who support Entry level colleagues.

Support entry-level staff

3. Provide supported opportunities and resources specifically designed for and accessible to Entry level staff, particularly in relation to Assessment and Feedback and Communication, Collaboration and Participation.

Support self-directed staff development

4. Continue to provide support for self-directed staff development projects and activities. This approach is supported by the research literature, which has shown that professional development programmes that support staff in focusing on developing their own knowledge ‘are most likely to lead to transformative change’ (Fraser et al. 2007, p.167).

Encouraging contextual e-safety guidance

5. Continue to support work which supports schools in expanding the safe and effective use of social and collaborative technologies.

Increasing knowledge and use of Open Educational Resources (OERs)

6. Complete work on the project’s current Open Education schools project, and evaluate the benefit of continued focus on and additional work in this area.

 

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