I had mentioned that you should learn the basics of hardware and software your kids are using. This is called digital literacy. Actually this term has a wider and deeper definition but I’m trying to be as simple as possible. You can check the wikipedia page for further information. Many websites offer Digital Literacy courses. Microsoft, digitalliteracy.gov, Common Sense Media are the ones that I can tell at a first thought. Is being digitally literate enough for teachers and parents? My answer is negative. There is another term we use to represent the beyond of Digital Literacy. It is Digital Fluency.
D. Literacy is about knowing how to use a tool but D. Fluency is about how to use it, when to use it, understanding why to use it and using it to solve the problems faced in different situations so as you see D. Fluency is deeper than D. Literacy but why do you need to be digitally fluent?
The answer can be the way things are changing. I mean the technological changes are forcing you to be digitally fluent. For example it is very hard to find a cell phone which does not have a touch screen and internet connection nowadays (in Turkey). In 2 or 3 years time there will be only smart phones in the market. Maybe you know how to use a smart phone and don’t prefer to use it but in the near future you will have to. All the people you know will have a smart phone and at some point you will feel the necessity of using your phone in a different way. This is the point where you need to become digitally fluent in using smart phones.
In a 1:1 laptop/tablet program or BYOD program the education materials are expected to be digital. So it won’t be a surprise to say teachers should be digitally fluent, right? Although this is an obvious fact I observe that most of the teachers are using digital tools not very effectively. They have the digital literacy skills but not digital fluency skills. One reason for that can be the lack of time when it comes to educate thyself. A teacher’s responsibilities and work load shouldn’t be underestimated. Another reason might be this, those teachers do not really feel that they should be digitally fluent. So they don’t spend time about this topic in their professional development programs.
Having digital materials in education does not make parents life easier either. On the contrary they feel insufficient about helping their kids so being digitally fluent becomes a major step in closing the generation gap between parents and kids. Parents can get help from their kids’ school. Most of the schools have parent education programs which provide necessary skills that a parent should have to be able to communicate with his/her kids and stay up-to-date. Also parents can get together and share their experiences, problems and solutions with each other. My school has a Parent Digital Fluency program and I will share our experiences briefly soon.