Reflections on teaching in a digital world

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Lifelong Learning

“A lifelong learning framework encompasses learning throughout the lifecycle, from early childhood through retirement. It encompasses formal learning (schools, training institutions, universities); non-formal learning (structured on-the job training); and informal learning (skills learned from family members or people in the community). It allows people to access learning opportunities as they need them rather than because they have reached a certain age” (World Bank, 2002, p. xvii).

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Digital Blurring

Digital blurring refers to the diminishing boundary between our lives and digital technology. Technology has become ubiquitous in our daily life, and majority of my future students will be fluent at operating digital devices. They may be gamers, and will almost certainly be social media users. It falls to me to uncover and exploit the hidden educational benefits inherent in these behaviours.

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Digital Fluency

Digital fluency refers to “the ability to use technologies in a confident manner” (Howell, 2012, p. 243). In preparing students for the modern digital world, the ability to use a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation tool is vital (Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2013). However, given the rapidity of technological change, I suspect that achieving true fluency will require students to move beyond tool use and delve into digital manipulation and creation.

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Digital Information

As a teacher, I may no longer be the sole source of knowledge within a classroom, but I will still hold responsibility for validity of the information that is imparted by the technology I employ. While I look forward to the increase in the data validity of online text books, as the revisal of outdated information is now fast and cheap, I am very aware that not all data available online is accurate (The New York Times, 2008).

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Participation and the Digital Divide

The digital divide is often considered to be between the first and third world, or between remote and urban communities, such as that shown in the infographic below. However, as a city teacher, it is far more likely that I will be confronted with the impact of the socio-economic urban digital divide. This divide mainly influences students from low socio-economic backgrounds, and those who have parents or carers with minimal education or limited technological literacy: McLaren and Zappala found “education level to be the key driver of Internet access, followed in importance only by income level” (2002, p. vii). Therefore, I will need to be conscious that children within my class may lack home internet access, and therefore may have difficulty completing homework tasks, and a limited ability to participate in any online class social groupings (Sharma, 2014, para 7).

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Digital Security in Teaching

Digital technology can be a powerful pedagogical tool; however, networked technology has an inherent security risk (Kelly, 2001). Therefore, when I introduce digital technology to the classroom, I will also have a responsibility to introduce adequate digital security measures. Although digital security concerns are often focussed on software risks, such as viruses and other malware, these can generally be addressed by judicious anti-virus and firewall use (Microsoft, 2014). Instead, I suspect the greatest challenge in digital security will be protecting my student’s personal data from collection by unscrupulous agencies (Riofrio, 2013).

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