Junior Cycle: Digital Media Literacy

Digital Media Literacy is the title of a Short Course being developed by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) in the Republic of Ireland. The NCCA are looking for interested parties to “have their say” during the current consultation process (here).

Digital Media Literacy is made up of four strands

  1. My digital world
  2. Following my interests online
  3. Checking the facts
  4. Publishing myself

The content will be taught over one-hundred hours and and the student-work in Digital Media Literacy, will be certified by their school, after study, during the Second and Third year of the Irish Junior Cycle of education (14/15 years of age). This corresponds to Level Three indicators of our National Framework of Qualifications.

We are at the very early stages of the development of digital-media strategies and it is good that the NCCA has seen fit to develop this short course.

I also like the way it stays away from named applications and talks about what I call technological paintbrushes, blogging, digital-video, quality search etc.

Howard Rheingold had done a lot of work in this area – we have collaborated on a number of occasions, as we think through the implications of the the meaning of living in virtual communities. The advertising on Amazon for his book Net Smart: How to Thrive online, puts it well “…how can we use digital media so that they make us empowered participants rather than passive receivers, grounded, well-rounded people rather than multitasking basket cases

Rheingold has also published a Google Doc, Howard Rheingold’s Social Media Literacies Syllabus: High School (here). From re-reading it, I find it is aimed at the older student (K10-K12 / Fifth, Sixth Year) but nevertheless it has lots of good ideas for our younger students here in Ireland.

I will use one section of his Syllabus as a criterion of judgement against the NCCA short course to see how they compare. Rheingold suggests the following ten learning outcomes for students.

  1. Cultivate an ability to discern, analyze, and manage the way they deploy their attention
  2. Learn to use social media tools for collaborative work
  3. Understand the need for critical consumption of information
  4. Understand and practice appropriate online behavior
  5. Hone their ability to find the answer to any question with the right kind of search
  6. Train their thinking to assess the accuracy of the answers they find online
  7. Learn the modes, consequences, some of the responsibilities and dangers of different kinds of digital participation, from curation to blogging
  8. Distinguish the characteristics and methods, advantages and pitfalls, of virtual communities, smart mobs, collective intelligence, crowdsourcing, social production and wiki collaboration
  9. Recognize the ways the structure and dynamics of networks affect the behaviors of populations, the elements of applying of social network analysis to online culture, the steps necessary to cultivate personal learning networks
  10. Become familiar with competing perspectives on social media practices and their effects; learn how to make analytic arguments regarding key debates around the use of social media

I think the NCCA document (especially pages nine to twelve – the four strands) comes out well when judged against these learning outcomes.

I am particularly pleased to see that Rheingold’s number two, Learning to use social media tools for collaborative work will be addressed in the Assessment Process. I would like this more clearly stated in the description of the strands. 

It will also be addressed by teachers who will plan collaborative assessment processes. This will be exciting for the teachers and students involved and challenging to traditional models of assessment.

Teachers who get involved in teaching this programme will have to live aspect of their lives in the social-media context. They will need to provide examples from experience of various applications. They will also have to share some digital-space with the students leading to a classroom without bells and walls – they will learn a lot here and it would be interesting to have a cluster of teachers with experience of teaching this short-course share their experiences.

It will also be important for students to have their say. Students have a better grasp of where they are at with social media – the course will challenge them with some Why’s?

Schools will need to be able to access where students are at over the Schools Network. Talking about for example, SnapChat (or the next big thing) in isolation will not work – there will be a challenge to network administrators to filter-in certain content for use in class.

Just some random thoughts! Any further ideas out there?

Image Credits

The NCCA Homepage

Joi Ito’s Flickr Photostream

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