EDER 679.07-Blog Synthesis: How has teaching and learning adapted to a digital age?

After completing two years of graduate work first in e-Learning and now in Transforming Teaching and Learning in a Knowledge Society, I have realized that my teaching has dramatically changed.  The purpose of graduate work is for people to question, to explore and to reflect on current methodologies.   With the vast changes in technology, teaching and learning methodologies have become more individualized leading to the need for 21st Century skill development, which requires educators to re-think teaching styles, curriculum design, teacher-student interactions, and more.  What exactly does this entail?  How can I implement what I have learned from the last two years into my teaching?  I have come to some understanding of how I can reflect my learning, but I am still discovering the best ways to use technology to reinforce 21st Century developments.  

 21st Century skills focus on developing competencies in technology, collaboration, problem solving, and networking, etc. that “…build on the foundation of traditional literacy, research skills, technical skills, and critical analysis skills taught in the classroom…” (Jenkins, 2006, p. 19).  It also includes re-examining the notion of traditional literacies.  The New Media Consortium (2005) defines new literacies as “…the set of abilities and skills where aural, visual, and digital literacy overlap…” (p. 8).  Literacy must also include traditional literacies of reading and writing as well as media literacy of developing social skills if students are to work collaboratively in a global, interconnected society (Jenkins, 2006).  Educators as well as students need to acquire these proficiencies to compete in the digital age.  Educators need to now design curriculum that seamlessly integrates technology and fosters interdisciplinary inquiry that requires a new way of thinking about teaching and that incorporates new ideas about literacy into curriculum.  This can occur through the development of technological pedagogical content knowledge or TPACK. 

 In addition to TPACK, “learning by design” where teachers become designers of technology and learn along side their students allows for authentic learning opportunities.  This type of design encourages learners to develop the critical thinking skills needed to function in a complex society where thinking involves more than just memorizing information.  As Simon, 1996 states, “…knowledge building has shifted from “knowing” or the ability to remember details to being able to develop the intellectual tools to use knowledge.  This requires educators and schools to restructure so that students learn with understanding of content rather than through the repetition of information.  In this digital age, technology has given learners heightened access to information, ideas and people where knowledge can be shared using Web 2.0 tools.  Educators need to keep up-to-date with this knowledge and be digitally resilient when learning to implement new technologies into the classroom. 

 Such strategic usage of technology is supported by connectivism and social constructivism since educators design curriculum to allow students to solve authentic, real-world problems.   These learning theories can seem disorganized and time intensive but “…through this arbitrary learning, understanding and knowledge is obtained (Siemens, 2009).  This does not imply that students will naturally learn just because they are connected to other students or educators.  Therefore, Selwyn (2010) argues that there needs to be a more structured and scientist approach to using technology in classrooms, which justifies the need for TPACK. 

 During the last two years, I have discovered that I support the constructivist ideology more than I initially realized.  I design lessons using project-based outcomes, and I allow my students opportunities to discover content in a way that fits their learning style.  This type of teaching focuses on student-led exercises instead of teacher controlled learning.  I have learned how to use TPACK to develop competencies in technology, collaboration, problem solving, networking, and I use new definitions of literacy to advance my awareness and understanding of the skills needed for the future.  I can now use technology to further my teaching goals so that technology doesn’t take over good teaching practices and pedagogy.  Furthermore, I have a new appreciation for the importance being digitally literate since it involves accessing and interpreting the relevance of information.  The last two years have changed my teaching ideologies as well as enhanced my ability to lead my students.  I look forward to developing more relevant and engaging lessons using technology that sparks authentic learning.


 Jenkins, H. (2006).  Confronting the challenges of participatory culture:  Media education for the 21st Century.  John D. and Catherine T.  MacArthur Foundation.  Retrieved from http://digitallearning.macfound.org/atf/cf%7B7E45C7E0-A3E0-4B89-AC9C-E807E1B0AE4E%7D/JENKINS_WHITE_PAPER.PDF

 New Media Consortium (2005).  A Global Imperative:  The Report of the 21st Century Literacy Summit.

 Selwyn, N.  (2010).  Looking beyond learning:  Notes towards the critical study of educational technology, Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26(1), 65-73.

 Siemens, G.  (2009).  Chaos, and emergence.  Retrieved from http://docs.google.com/View?docid=anw8wkk6fjc_15cfmrctf8

 Simon, H.A. (1996).  Observations on the Sciences of Science Learning. Paper prepared for the Committee on Developments in the Science of Learning for the Sciences of Science Learning: An Interdisciplinary Discussion. Department of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University.

EDER 679.07: “Netiquette” & the Need for Digital Citizenship

Digital literacy teaching involves learning about technology (WikiHow, 2013).  This doesn’t mean only learning how tools functions; it also includes learning how to use technology in a respectful way, which is referred to as “netiquette”.   Netiquette is network or Internet etiquette, and it is defined as “…socially acceptable conduct in an online or digital situation” (Wikipedia, 2013, Etiquette-technology).

Technology offers many benefits to individuals; however, when used inappropriately, it can also cause harm.  Information put on the Internet is forever; people need to be aware of this so they aren’t embarrassed or put in danger because of poor choices.  The longevity of digital footprints makes the consequences of abusing technology like cyberbullying even more serious.  Educators have a responsibility to “…promote respectful online behaviours” (Harte, 2011, p.3).  “…Educators are the gatekeepers to what goes on in classrooms and are instrumental in cultivating a positive (or negative) school culture”  (Cassidy, Brown & Jackson, 2012, p. 520).  I want to cultivate positive technology usage so that my students (foreign trained professionals) know the cultural norms of technology usage, for a lack of understanding could affect employability.  Therefore, I have a responsibility to learn netiquette and inform my students.  I intend to insert micro lessons on netiquette and digital citizenship into my curriculum so that students become “…informed through research and learning from others”, and participate in “…respectful deliberation, and use of various media…to communicate with others, to move them to action” (Herrington & Moran, 2012).

Why do educators need to include netiquette in their media literacy curriculum?  Since technology has developed so quickly, people aren’t sure how to use it or how to appropriately interact with each other leading to cyberbullying and poor conduct.  I have witnessed people answering their cell phones or texting during meetings, taking pictures of people and posting them online without consent, texting message or answering phone calls while driving, sending offensive e-mails to co-workers, etc.  It seems that manners have gone out the window. People have a responsibility to behave appropriately and professionally in public.  According to Evans & Gerwitz (2008), “…e-professionalism involves behavior related to professional standards and ethics when using electronic communication” (Harte, 2011, p.3).

Learning how to appropriately use technology should be everyone’s concern.  How do teachers and parents tackle this important concept?  They should ask themselves questions such as:  What is digital citizenship, why is it important to teach, and who is responsible for teaching it?  Digital citizenship can be defined as “norms of appropriate, responsible technology use” (Ribble, 2013). It is important to teach because “…the lack of digital citizenship awareness and education can lead to dangerous student conduct including cyberbullying, so it is in the best interest of society to help students become better citizens (Hollandsworth, Dowdy & Donovan, 2011).  Ohler (2011) states that digital citizenship teaching is much like any other character education programs, which should be based on community defined values.  Ultimately, the first step in teaching digital citizenship is for educators and parents to act as positive examples and use technology appropriately.


Cassidy, W., Brown, K.N., & Jackson, M.  (2012).  “Under the radar”:  educators and cyberbullying in schools.  SchoolPsychology International, 33(5), 520-532.  Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca/ehost/resultsadvanced?sid=7e26c5cb-66e9-43e6-9763-id0775e3d0bf%40sessionmgr4&vid=9&hid=19&bquery=under+AND+the+AND+radar&bdata=JmRiPWVyzWMmdHIwZT0xJnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGI2ZQ%ed%3d

Evans, T., & Gerwitz, A.E.  (2008).  E-Professioalism dos and don’ts.  NALP Bulletin.  Retrieved from http://www.tourolaw.edu/cso/docs/eprofessionalism.pdf

Harte, H.  (2011).  E-Professionalism for Early Care and Education Providers.  Dimensions Of Early Childhood, 39(3), 3-10.

Herrington, A., & Moran, C. (2012).  Social Deliberation and Social Action.  Retrieved from http://digitalis.nwp.org/collection/civic-deliberation-and-social-action

Hollandsworth, R., Dowdy, L., & Donovan, J.  (2011).  Digital citizenship in k-12:  it takes a village.  Techtrends:  Linking Research And Practice To Improve Learning, 55(4), 37-47.

Ohler, J.  (2011).  Digital citizenship means character education for the digital age.  Kappa Delta Pi Record, 48(1), 25-27.

Ribble, M.  (2013).  Digital Citizenship:  Using Technology Appropriately.  Retrieved from  http://www.digitalcitizenship.net/

WikiHow.  (2013).  Be a Responsible Digital Citizen.  Retrieved from http://www.wikihow.com/Be-a-Responsible-Digital-Citizen

Wikipedia (2013).  Etiquette (technology)  Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etiquette_(technology)

EDER- 679.07 Changes in Literacy: What happens to people who are not digitally literate?

“Literacy has always been a collection of cultural and communicative practices shared among members of particular groups” (NCTE Definition, 2013, p.1).  This statement made by the National Council of Teachers of English made me think about the vast technological changes occurring in the 21st Century and how society now views literacy.  The speed of innovation has had dramatic effects on teaching and learning practices where students must work collaboratively to develop proficiency and fluency with technological tools, and they must manage, analyze and evaluate multiple modes of information simultaneously (MediaSmarts, 2013).  This ability to access information using multiple media is “transliteracy”, which is “…the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from…handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks” (Thomas et al., 2007, p. 2).

Educators expect students to be able to manage information using various media sources.  However, being digitally literate isn’t an innate skill.  How do individuals learn it? Mifsud asks relevant questions including: “is digital literacy something one expects to learn at school, something one brings from other contexts or a crossover of both?” “What does a student have to appropriate and master in order to be called digitally literate by the current society?”  “What counts as digital literacy?” (Mifsud, 2005)  The question I am most concerned with is-what happens to youth and adults who have not learned to be digitally literate?

Developing digital literacy affects an individual’s entire existence since it involves accessing the relevance of information.  Therefore, teachers must devote time for students to practice digital literacy.  I will ensure that my lessons include such opportunities, and I will encourage students to practice these skills in and out of the classroom.  Today, students “require a repertoire of both print and digital literacy practices for their future workplace and life” (Rowsell and Walsh, 2011, p. 54).  This is a serious statement that cannot be ignored!

“Digital literacy is a complex phenomenon” (Mifsud, 2005, p.143).  It involves interpreting the “…users perception of the affordances of a digital artefact”, as well as considering “…the culture that the technology is being used in, and whether the technology contributes to an evolvement of new practices which become embedded in the culture” (Mifsud, 2005, p.143).  It also looks at the teacher’s perception of the technology.  Defining digital literacy is the first step in deciding how to implement it in curriculum so students develop the skills needed for success.  The next step is to allow students opportunities to practice using technologies in the classroom in an appropriate way that furthers societal progress.  Only with practice can students master the tools for thinking and acting, which are the foundations for digital literacy and digital citizenship.


MediaSmarts (2013).  Canada’s Centre for Digital & Media Literacy.  Retrieved from http://mediasmarts.ca/?gclid=CLSKiJf_4rcCFUbhQgod9wUAUA

Mifsud, L., (2005).  What counts as digital literacy:  Experiences from a seventh grade classroom in Norway.  Retrieved from http://www.socialscience.t-mobile.hu/dok/9_Mifsud.pdf

National Council of Teachers of English Executive Committee (2013).  NCTE definition of 21st century literacies.  Retrieved from http://www.ncte.org/positions/statements/21stcentdefinition

Thomas, S., Joseph, C., Laccetti, J., Mason, B., Millis, S., Perril, S., & Pullinger, K.  (2007).  Transliteracy:  Crossing Divides.  First Monday, Vol. 12 (12).  Retrieved from http://www.ulc.edu/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ois/Index.php/fm/article/view/2060/1908