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Saturday, January 3, 2015

Digital Literacy in #digcit class

As we started our Digital Literacy Unit in #digcit, I knew the basic skills I wanted the students to demonstrate but knew it could be bigger and better than my original plan.  (What plan can't be bigger and better??).

After participating in a Twitter chat (at this point, I have no idea which one since I participate in so many of them each week) and came across Google a day.  It intrigued me and so I thought we would try it out in class.  The students took to it like a fish to water.  They didn't really realize the purpose behind it was to make their Google searches more efficient and to increase their digital literacy skills.  They just saw a challenge and wanted in!

I had them create a Google Doc in the folder that is shared with me so they could keep track each day how many of the questions (there are 3) they could get through in the first 5 minutes of class each day.  The first day we tried it out we had 15 minute periods because of a 2 hour delay and an assembly schedule, so I let them play the whole 15 minutes.  After that, I set the timer for 5 minutes as soon as the bell rings.  Students who had previously strolled in as soon as the bell rang were rushing to get to class so they could add precious seconds to the 5 minute search time.  In the Google Doc each day, they had to put the date and then the number of questions they completed that day.  The goal was to get to a steady diet of 3 questions answered successfully each day.

Several students who are whizzes at this sort of thing anyway were to a steady diet of 3 by the end of the first week.  The weaker students struggled, but eventually got there also.

The most amazing thing that came out of this was the conversations that happened when the students were trying to answer the questions.  Often overheard were the following:

"What's a more efficient way to say...."

"What's a synonym for..."

"Could we try..."

"What have you tried already?  How could we make that a better search?"

"What does that word mean?"

The collaborative conversations and learning that came out of this seemingly miniscule activity exceeded my expectations.  Once again, the students proved that I underestimated them.  Improving their digital literacy is not just a goal of mine and the course, but it is also one of theirs.  They are constantly asking me what else they can learn.

I have heard from many parents (via email, phone and F2F conversations) that this course is their son/daughter's favorite class because they are constantly learning and learning skills they know are applicable.

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