My friend Isura Silva, writes about topics similar to what you find here. One of his recent posts touches on the death of attention, as a result of our proximity to screens. You should read his post to get his slant on it.
The issues we face as parents and teachers is not just screen addiction, but device distraction. Attention spans are in a serious free-fall. I flippantly wrote about this in an article on ‘FOMO’ (for LMD magazine). But it’s a lot more serious than this.
Which brings me back to Isura. He was on a UNICEF panel on Tuesday, discussing child safety online. The panel discussed the study just released, on how adolescents in Sri Lanka use the Internet. To give you a snapshot of it, the press release states that:
“While digital access exposes children to a wealth of benefits and opportunities, it can also unlock a host of risks including the misuse of their private information, access to harmful content, and cyberbullying …whilst children and adolescents are increasingly going online, they are doing so without adult oversight or supervision.”
Next week is Digital Learning Day across the world. Here at my school, I’m bringing in two speakers to address this dire need for digital literacy. Different cultures, different demographics, all feeling the same need.
During Hour of Code, a global event to promote coding skills this week, we strive to ramp up digital literacy.
But what constitutes digital literacy? There are many definitions.
Microsoft looks at it through an ICT lens – where ICT means ‘Information Communication Technology.’ But evidently there is much more it encompasses. How about building ‘digitally inclusive communities’ as is defined by the Institute of Museum and Library Services?
It goes beyond simply learning how to be safe online, or managing one’s Instagram page. It’s about teaching young people, beginning in elementary school, the ‘literacy’ for being successful in civic or economic spaces. It’s a mistake to assume that ‘Digital Natives’ are automatically, or inherently competent in these areas.
I have previously cited Common Sense Media writer, Jessica Laura who makes the point that just as anyone who has grown up speaking English, still takes English classes, those growing up digital, still need to learn about digital literacy.
The folks behind Hour of Code often talk about the need for foundation skills related to problem-solving, logic and creativity. Similar to how all students learn about photosynthesis, they ought to also understand how algorithms and coding underpins how their world works – or does not. There are 500,000 current job openings in the US that require computer skills, they say.