Literacy, beyond the ability to read and right, is defined as ‘knowledge that relates to a specified subject’ (www.Merriam-Webster.com). For example computer literacy equals the knowledge of how to use a computer or cultural literacy equals knowledge of the culture you live in. We hear a lot these days about Digital literacy and the importance of digital literacy being taught in schools. Digital literacy is defined as ‘the ability to find, evaluate, utilize, share, and create content using information technologies and the Internet’. For student activities including writing papers, creating multimedia presentations, and posting information about themselves or others online, are all a part of their day-to-day life, and all of these activities require varying degrees of digital literacy. So what is Teamie LMS literacy? Well, we were able to speak with Paul Marriott and David Woo, at Law Ting Pong Secondary School who have developed an ICT curriculum around use and application of the Teamie Learning Management Platform. This homegrown curriculum is a potent blend of literacy learning, comprised of; computer literacy, digital literacy and English language literacy for second language learners.
The Written Curriculum
David and Paul took an Understanding by Design (UBD) approach in developing this curriculum. First they began by selecting and articulating some grade level outcomes and standards for which they wanted students to meet or provide evidence of mastery. Then working backward from these outcomes, they planned a summative task that would allow them to assess if students were able to produce evidence of meeting these outcomes, or can do statements, at the end of the each unit and semester. They then planned a number of lessons which would introduce the relevant concepts, vocabulary and skills accompanied by experiential hands-on learning activities which would give students a chance to apply knowledge and deepen understanding. While many activities are specifically geared to navigation and communication on the Teamie platform, the language, terminology, concepts and skills learned and applied are applicable to the ICT discourse in general. So while Teamie is a logical vehicle for transferring and practicing this knowledge and these skills, through the process students are becoming more computer and digitally literate. Because they use Teamie in all their classes and throughout learning at LTPSS this ICT unit is transdisciplinary and widely applicable to their learning experiences throughout the school curriculum. Furthermore, because the skills and concepts being honed extend well beyond the Teamie platform and walls of the classroom, they are facilitating and nurturing the attributes of lifelong learners.
The Taught Curriculum
We are apt to label and ascribe traits and abilities to students and sometimes over apply these. One such label which I commonly encounter is ‘digital natives’ and the belief that students today are somehow born with an iPhone, experts at navigating the web and ready to code.
Are students today more adept and comfortable with technology then they were, say 20 years ago?
Does that mean that we have nothing left to teach them?
Most Definitely not!
What you will find if you begin to introduce technology concepts and skills to students is that while they have a high level of comfort with technology and adapt easily, their ICT skill set is somewhat limited or narrow and the idea of the digital native is a bit of a fallacy. Add to this the fact that many students that Paul and David teach are English as a second language learners so what they have found is a need to introduce basic technology language and terminology (although this is not specific to ESL learners. Try asking your students what URL stands for, what it does and can they identify where it is on their computer screens? You might be surprised!).
Once the requisite terminology and concepts are taught, they are then exercised and applied in the tasks which Paul and David have designed for students to complete on Teamie. The advantages of using Teamie as the conduit through which to teach these terms, processes and skills are:
- it provides authentic and immediate hands on experience,
- it is learning which is applicable to all their subjects and educational experience, and
- through completion of these tasks gaps or shortfalls in assumed prior knowledge and understanding are often revealed and able to be addressed
Some examples of the tasks through which the concepts and skills are applied or formatively assessed are; get into the ICT Classroom, reply to a teacher's post in the Classroom, respond to a question in the Classroom and embedd an image or video, read all pages of a Teamie Unit, Search for "Mr. Marriott" on Teamie and find at least one result about him, Create a Stories page with a picture to introduce yourself, etc.
The Assessed Curriculum
As a summative assessment task for the first module of ICT learning with Teamie LMS, students are asked to apply skills and exhibit understanding of terms and concepts by creating a Teamie Story. The Stories feature, by giving students the same content creation tools given to Teachers for unit creation, allows them the functionality and a conducive canvas to exercise and exhibit the various skills and concepts learnt throughout the unit.
Now is, of course, when Paul and David return to those ICT grade level outcomes and standards which they articulated or highlighted and now have student generated evidence from which to assess mastery of said outcomes and standards. The ICT curriculum is broken into modules which comprise the school year, with the Teamie platform remaining a focus or vehicle through which to teach the broader technology skills. With this process as a constant, the students confidence and ability in using the school’s LMS platform grows by leaps and bounds and these broader skills can be assessed for what we hope to be reflected as progression of understanding and complexity of application.
So is there a place in the curriculum to teach your LMS? After viewing the curriculum developed by Paul and David at LTPSS, I would answer a definitive yes, because there is great value in it. Beyond building proficiency and confidence with a tool that is integrated into all their learning, they are also getting much needed basic digital education training which, contrary to our digital native misnomer, most young people still need. Many students do not inherently possess the skills for safe, effective and responsible use and application of technologies especially for an academic or workplace setting. Therefore a well designed ICT curriculum with a focus on basic skills, necessary terminology and an academic or occupational application narrows the new digital divide between digital lifestyle skills and digital workplace skills. It is necessary to provide youth with a complete set of skills in a formal and focused manner which they can exercise purposely throughout their learning, by repeating processes and implementing newly acquired skills across the curriculum and within a breadth of study. Through careful planning and proper instruction acquired proficiency with use and application of crucial technology tools, contributes to students realising their full potential as learners, employees, entrepreneurs and citizens using digital technologies. With this in mind we owe a big thanks to David and Paul for sharing with us their innovative curriculum design for ICT outcomes and for leveraging the Teamie platform as an integral component of teaching and learning within it.
Want to learn more about how to enhance pedagogy in your school by using technology? Download the case study on UWCSEA, from the leading research firm Ovum, that highlights how UWCSEA have used technology to enable instructional strategies in their school.