An article in the New York Times recently came out discussing the thoughts on e-mail as it relates to current college students. The article discusses the different perceptions of e-mail, concluding with students not being a fan and everyone else saying that it is a standard, yet continue to send messages that are not efficiently designed. While I think that many of us are using e-mail inefficiently, that is an entirely different discussion and blog post.
There are many gem quotes from those interviewed, including one person I look up to, Eric Stoller. For those that you do not know Eric, he consults colleges and universities on social media and communication. He first points out that perhaps that everyone has excessively large expectations of students when it comes to technology.
"We have this perception that because students are fluent with things like smartphones and downloading music that they are born with chips embedded in them that makes them technology wizards. They are no better at managing e-mail than anyone else." (Stoller, 2013)
Now, I agree with a lot of things Eric says. Not just this quote, but most of his Twitter keeps me motivated to keep exploring and writing (Thanks Eric!).
I do think that the expectations are set high of our incoming students. I think the bar is so high, that we in turn make assumptions that our students just know it. That is not a healthy habit to start/continue.
Assuming students just know technology is on the same level as saying that because we were surrounded by pencils, pens, markers, crayons, etc., that we are all writing wizards. Sure we could drag the pencil around on the piece of paper, table, wall, etc. and make scribbles, but we needed to learn how to write. Someone had to spend time and teach us to not only write, but understand what we were writing. All of a sudden, we were not only learning to write, but we were learning to read. Then someone spent time and taught us how to think about what we were reading and writing. Now it became a conversation of understanding or being literate.
Now, our smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc., are nothing more than fancy and expensive pencils and for the price tag we pay, it all does a little more than write. Sure we can scribble all over the internet, and we can think of a lot of examples of scribbling all over the internet. Do we have the understanding or is it all just scribbles on the wall? Are there people that are going to teach us how to "write"? Are we digitally literate?
I would be interested to look at the different perceptions of students using technology. More importantly, I want to know what students think. Do students know it as well as we think they do? Do they think we are making a lot of assumptions about them? Do they wish they had more lessons in using their technology?
Rubin, C. (2013, September 27). Technology and the college generation. The New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/29/fashion/technology-and-the-college-generation.html?pagewanted=2&_r=0&smid=pl-share
Due to the overwhelming support, laughter, anger of last weeks post, I went ahead and developed a tutorial for you all. Tab stops are one of many powerful features in Microsoft Word which can contribute to your digital literacy. It will be added to the running collection of tutorials I have made, but you get a sneak peek with the presentation below. Best enjoyed in full screen. You may view more tutorials above! If you want to learn something, contact me and I will build it just for you. Thanks for stopping by!
Students come into see me for career advising. Many times they come to me to have their resume critiqued. While I look at the content of their resume to make sure it is the best it can be, I also look at formatting. If you chose to bold your sections, did you do it to all of them? Do you consistently spell out all of the months? Does all of your information that should be along the right-hand margin line up on that margin?
Most students rock the first two questions, but that third one is brutal to see. Students have their content lined up all over the place. When I go to show them how to remedy the situation, I look like a wizard of some sorts. I never really thought of it, until I attended #SAtechMI and had a conversation about digital literacy.
Digital Literacy, to me, is the ability to work the resources that are available to you via the computer. It extends past simply knowing it, but understanding it. We do a real disservice to students these days because we simply assume because they grew up with it, a digital native, that they are the masters of the technology.
Well, they aren't. I will throw myself into the mix, so really it is WE aren't.
I will agree that when it comes to technology, we are the firsts to try it, the firsts to use it, the first to get the basics. I will agree that many assume that it comes naturally. However, technology is a skill, and like all skills, it needs to be developed and supported. Being the "tech guy" in the group and not the musician, I can safely say technology is not a natural skill.
If we assume that students know it, where are they learning it? My guess is through a combination between trial and error and observations. So when we ask for presentations that are creative, and receive slides with all text that is bullet points, who do we really have to blame?
Today I asked a student, after again receiving the look as if I have magical powers, if he had received any class or "training experience" to use Microsoft Word.
He laughed, "No, did you?"
I would like to thank my 7th grade technology course for teaching me not only Word, but PowerPoint and Excel. As much as we need to continue our learning about technology, we need to consider our students as well. Imagine if there was someone or a group of people on campus or in the school was to teach how to use the technology that we have just assumed they know. Imagine the digital literacy when it comes to understanding Microsoft Office, Prezi, Social Media, and Google. We expect our students to be able to read, write, communicate thoughts, problem solve. We need to include digital literacy into the curriculum from early on, all the way through their college career.
Where would you say you are at in terms of your digital literacy? Are there things that you would love to learn? Comment below and find out that you are not alone, and more importantly, help me find more tutorials that I can create! Thanks for reading!
When I was in middle school, I did an assignment on Greek mythology. I was to take a phenomenon in the world and write my own story about the Greek gods and why this phenomenon occurs in the world. To write this back then meant that my mom would driving me to the library where I would spend hours searching for books. I would check them out and go home to write my rough draft. As my pencil continued to shrink, the story grew. I would then go and type in the computer lab my rough draft into a final draft. It was a neat story about thunderstorms being nothing more that the Greek gods glow-bowling.
I remember when the internet was not as robust. I remember when we got our first computer in the house. My first typed assignments were either typed in the computer lab or on my grandmother's typewriter. To be a successful student back then meant knowing the tools of the time.
It's the same as it is now, right? Our students know the tools to succeed in today's world, right?
The first session that I attended was a conversation about student's digital literacy. Do students truly understand the use of technology in their life? This was a great conversation and addressed several issues. I will try to highlight a few points.
There is still a gap - As we talk about access to higher education, the same can be said for technology. As much as new technology bridges gaps in connecting us to each other and the general knowledge, the more it creates gaps to those who have access. When we talk about bringing social media and other tools into the classroom, do we recognize that there are those who don't have access outside of the classroom.
Being a millennial does not equate to being an expert - We continue to say that the students today are extremely tech savvy, and while their understanding of the functions are sometimes higher than older generations, the understanding of consequences is not. Between the ill advised posting of photos on Facebook, to research solely based on Wikipedia, there is still much to be learned about the different software and tools.
The Librarian still knows all - While you think you may know how to navigate a search box, Librarians are still the expert. Whether it be the digital catalog or a Google search, your librarian staff can teach you how to optimize your process to find exactly what you need and more.
Forget Millennial, what about our digital literacy - If we are suppose to be the educators to help build our student's digital literacy, shouldn't we know it first? It was clear that there was a gap among all of us, and if you combined our knowledge together, you would still find plenty of holes. It is important as much as we teach our students to be life long learners, we too need to continue our learning.
Services need to be made available and started early - The conclusion of a very awesome discussion concluded that there needed to be services. We went as far as to say that as much as a university has a writing center and a career services office, there needs to be a specific office that handles digital literacy. To be able to teach technology so that students are not only learning how to use different technology, but to understand the implications of using it. To be able to be creative and confident that what they are doing online and otherwise is safe for them and creating digitally literate students. It was also said that this needs to start as early as middle school. If it is going to be a college focus, it should start with orientation and carry itself through all the years of the students college career. We always work towards giving students the tools necessary to succeed, and digital literacy is the necessary tool to be placed on the tool belt.