As a university researcher and teacher, I rely heavily on digital tools for my work, including communication, research, and teaching. I consider myself a digital resident when it comes to teaching and research activities, but a digital visitor when it comes to social media.
Digital literacy is a crucial skill for researchers and educators in today’s world. It is the ability to use digital tools and technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information effectively (Belshaw, 2011). However, as we discussed in our group, digital literacy can be a challenge for both teachers and students, with obstacles that must be overcome.
One of the main obstacles to digital literacy is finding the right balance between personal and professional online presence. Social media platforms, for example, can blur the line between personal and professional life, which can be challenging to navigate. Another obstacle is cyber security and copyright issues when it comes to using digital tools for research and teaching. Digital incompetence, resistance to change, assessment instruments, unavailability of enabling policies, and lack of time to effectively incorporate digital resources in teaching are also common obstacles.
Despite the obstacles, digital literacy offers significant opportunities for both teachers and students. For teachers, digital tools offer new ways of engaging students, creating interactive learning environment, and fostering collaboration (Christine Redecker, 2017). As Prensky and St. Clair (2012) suggested educators must adapt their teaching practices to meet the needs of digital natives and incorporate digital tools and technologies into the curriculum. For students, digital literacy provides access to a wealth of information and resources, allows for personalized learning experiences, and prepares them for the digital workforce.
For both teachers and students, staying up-to-date with the latest digital tools and technologies can be difficult, given the rapidly evolving digital landscape. Additionally, cyber security and copyright issues, quality assurance, language barriers, and inequities in access to technology can be a concern when using digital tools for research and teaching. However, ‘thanks to Covid-19 pandemic’, the pace of digital literacy has accelerated in all aspects of our professional and private lives. Though it is a slow process, I recognize the importance of ongoing learning and professional development to benefit from the latest trends and best practices.
From an institutional perspective, the challenge lies in providing teachers and students with the resources and support they need to develop digital literacy skills. Institutions must invest in digital infrastructure, provide training and support, and encourage innovation in the use of digital tools in education. At the same time, institutions must also address issues of security, copyright, and digital incompetency to ensure that all stakeholders are able to participate in the digital world effectively.
In conclusion, in our PBL group we agreed that both the facilitators and participants are not comfortable with our online presence that is increasingly demanding. Though it is a slow process, digital literacy is a crucial skill for researchers and educators in today’s world. While challenges exist, the opportunities for innovation and improved teaching and learning experiences are significant. I believe that ongoing learning and professional development are critical to enhance our digital competency. Additionally, institutions should invest in digital infrastructure, provide training and support, and encourage innovation in the use of digital tools in education to ensure that both teachers and students have the skills they need to succeed in the digital world.
- Belshaw, D. (2011). What is ‘digital literacy’? A Pragmatic investigation. PhD thesis, Durham University. Available at: http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/1876/
- Christine Redecker, 2017. “European Framework for the Digital Competence of Educators: DigCompEdu,” JRC Research Reports JRC107466, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
- Warschauer, M. (2010). Digital literacy studies: Progress and prospects. Educational Researcher, 39(9), 631- 639.
2 thoughts on “Topic 1: Online Participation and Digital Literacy”
You start off this topic by describing yourself in the resident and visitor-scale. You see that you are resident in the teaching and research activities, but a visitor when it comes to social media. This makes me wonder: Isn’t hey connected? Can’t social media be used both to teaching, learning and promoting or accessing research…? As you say, social media can blur boundaries for personal and professional use, so of course this could be tricky. You also see some very relevant obstacles for digital development and maybe we can add GDPR to these…? 😉
For the possibilities part you point out both engaging student and fostering collaboration. I really like this, but not everyone lifts this as the possibilities for digitalization. Why is this do you think?
You see that the pandemic has helped us evolve in the field of digital education, but you also feel that the development is slow. I can recognize this, but maybe there can also be benefits not to hurry too fast…? Then you conclude with the training and support needed for the development. This is SO important!
-Thanks for sharing so openly!
Many thanks for your comments!
Social media can be used for promoting and accessing research activities. I use LinkedIn for networking and to some extent to share and promote my research outcomes and online courses, but not regularly. I mostly use ResearchGate and Google scholar to share my publications and ask and answer research-related questions. LinkedIn and a blog on Facebook can likewise be used for teaching purposes. However, posting articles sustainably demands lots of efforts and time :). Here are some more reflections in connection with my digital presence:
I use various communication and collaboration tools in my personal and professional activities, such as Gmail and outlook, instant messaging apps like WhatsApp, Messenger, and Viber, and video conferencing tools such as Zoom, Teams, and Google Classroom. I am comfortable with these tools and can use them to communicate and collaborate effectively with colleagues and friends. I also use some other apps like Duolingo/Språkplay/Sv-Lexikon for my Swedish language study. But I feel that the video conferencing tools are not yet as interactive as the physical classes for teaching.
For my courses, I use Canvas as a main teaching-learning platform, where I upload course materials and assessment activities. I record my lectures and embed the videos on Canvas. I use automatic grading tools (like Matlab grader) integrated with Canvas for calculation problems, seminars, webinars and discussion forums to fasilitate collaboration between students. However, my use of other interactive tools like Mentimeter is limited due to licence issues.
Overall, I am comfortable using a range of digital tools to support my work and can adapt to new tools and technologies when necessary.
Regarding empowering students in the teaching and learning activities: Digital technologies have the potential to enhance education quality by allowing learners to actively engage in the learning process, explore topics, experiment with solutions, and reflect on their learning. They can also provide hands-on personalized learning activities based on individual needs, interests, and skill levels. This develops responsibility and creates sense of belonging. However, it is important to ensure that all learners, including those with special needs, have access to digital technologies and that this does not increase existing inequalities. Time constraints and lack of expertise could be among the potential challenges.