Mobile phones are usually used regularly by learners, therefore, not using them when teaching digital literacy could be classed as a missed opportunity. Most mobile phones are now like miniature computers, so not only can they be used to make and receive calls as well as send and receive text messages; they can also be used to access emails, social media, podcasts, for face time, What’s App, use Skype etc. The list of what they can do is endless. However, not every student has a Smart phone or is tech savvy enough to be able to access all the possible methods of communication. Whilst mobile phones do offer many levels of communication for some learners; they could also isolate some learners who do not have an up to date mobile phone. In addition to this, another negative point to bear in mind when communicating with a mobile phone, (with the exemption of voice calls and face to face calls such as Skype) there is always the possibility of things being misinterpreted.
Use of e-mail
Emails can be an excellent form of communication. Sending an email is a superb way to send information quickly and free. Unfortunately, there is a limited amount of data that can be sent, especially when sending large files such as pictures and videos. They can be a good way of evidencing work and useful if a paper trail is required. They, along with other forms of online communication, can be a good way to engage digital literacy learners as they would develop digital literacy skills naturally as a result. However, students can be reluctant to engage or share information in this way as there may be cost implications and technical issues. It can be used to give recorded feedback remotely and to send messages to remind or inform learners of any changes to sessions, find out why they missed sessions or of deadlines. It may not be suitable for some students with learning difficulties or limited literacy skills. Emails, like any other digitally written communication can be misread, misunderstood and the use of emoticons can be misleading.
A tutor’s role is to facilitate learning. In order for this to happen, their first priority is to provide a safe learning environment. Part of creating this safe environment is the relationship that the tutor has built with the learner. Some learners come into the classroom with a range of issues that can sometimes get in the way of learning. If the tutor has a positive relationship with the learner, this can help remove some of them and therefore facilitate learning. A positive relationship can be built over time by getting to know the learner and the types of issues they may be facing, being adaptable, approachable and non judgemental in their advice and support on issues faced. In doing this, the tutor is not like a teacher, which many people, young adults especially, will find off putting as it reminds them of negative experiences they may have had in their schooling. A positive relationship and understanding of personal circumstances can assist the tutor to prevent barriers to learning occurring or address them as they arise. It will also motivate the learner to attend sessions.
Emotional Intelligence is a measure of an individual’s abilities to recognise and manage their emotions, as well as the emotions of other people, both individually and in groups.
It is highly important for a tutor to understand emotional intelligence especially when they are developing the digital literacy skills of a learner. All learners have a level of emotional intelligence. Technology, computers and the internet can create quite an emotional response in people, especially the older generation. Learners can become frustrated when trying to use or interact with digital tools and technology. This emotional response will play out in their behaviour too. Some learners can become quite angry very quickly when getting frustrated using a computer. Therefore, planning for a session taking the learners emotional intelligence into account can have a significant impact on the success of the lesson.
Managing emotions can be quite difficult for some learners and they often struggle to respond to things in the appropriate manner. An example of this is on social media sites like Facebook where things are written on posts that stir up an emotional response, or are written in order to influence a certain response in a person. Understanding this and as a tutor, discussing the appropriate way to deal with it, can help a person to manage their emotions and avoid potential conflict. Understanding your own emotional intelligence can also help you to understand the impact of your behaviour on other people. This can be seen when using social media. People can post messages or images on social media that can have either a positive or a negative effect and being aware of this can help to self-regulate what you post. As tutors, it is our responsibility to help create good digital citizens of the future who are aware of the impact that their behaviour has on others in the digital age.
There are number of steps to emotional intelligence such as being sensitive to emotions of yourself and others, reasoning emotions, understanding emotions as well as managing them. The learner should also be able to regulate emotions, respond appropriately and respond appropriately to the emotions of others.
It is, therefore, important to encourage learners to reflect on their own emotions and to identify how they should respond, i.e. to prioritise what they react to. Developing such cognitive skills by the use of such critical thinking can help them evaluate when it is best to engage. Being able to master this skill will help them develop the confidence to support those around them and manage their emotions more effectively without reacting too hastily.
The role of diversity and inclusion in digital literacy
What is diversity and inclusion in digital literacy?
Diversity and inclusion in digital literacy is the same as in any other educational context. It means that all learners’ diverse needs and characteristics should be recognised, understood, accommodated and respected in the learning environment. All learners should be included in digital learning and treated fairly, i.e. no learner should be excluded from digital literacy sessions due to disability, gender, sexual orientation or digital (or other) ability etc. Diversity should be welcomed in fact as a rich source of learning for all, i.e. learners can learn from each other as well as the tutor (and we, as practitioners, may actually learn something too!). Some examples of this could be where certain class members could use digital skills to learn about the religion of another class member or a more digitally literate learner may be able to assist a less digitally literate learner in the use of a tool.
The effect that tutor values and attitudes may have in relation to diversity and inclusion
The tutor has a major influence on how their learners’ values and attitudes develop in general. However, this can be used to assist them to develop positive attitudes towards other class members with diverse backgrounds. If a tutor has a preconceptions and prejudices which influence their planning and delivery then it is possible that they may exclude learners based on these views and differences. This said, it is important that the tutor gives due consideration to any diverse needs, such as disability, as they may, if they do not, inadvertently, exclude such a learner from digital learning. In this case, providing such learners with the right aids to use digital tools such as a speaker for someone who is visually impaired, will help assist in their inclusion.
The different strategies that can be used to ensure diversity and inclusion in digital literacy learning programmes
There are many different strategies that can be used to ensure that diversity and inclusion are achieved in digital literacy learning programmes. Above all the tutor and the learning environment should be accessible for all. The environment in which the learning takes place should be a supportive one, with both the tutor and learners working collaboratively together regardless of the diversity of the group. Encouraging learners to work collaboratively, can help break down any barriers they may have, i.e. using such collaborative tools as Lino It, Hack Pad, Google Docs or Social Media. You must use SPICE when you consider learner needs, i.e. Social, Physical, Intellectual, Cultural and Emotional. You need to ask yourself are you meeting each and every one of your learners’ needs, i.e, are you accommodating their diversity? Above all, people must be viewed as individuals and you must consider how their needs can be met and embraced within the group setting. It is also important to be aware of the group dynamic as well as the individual. Any negative attitudes or opinions should be addressed via discussion away from the main group. Another strategy could be to use a variety of teaching styles to ensure that all learners learn, as well as creating a relaxed atmosphere with clear boundaries, where it is alright to make a mistake. You could also develop and encourage digital citizenship badge or reward to encourage learners to develop their emotional intelligence and act responsibly online. By allowing discussion and debate amongst learners (and have clear classroom boundaries e.g. respect others views etc) negative attitudes and beliefs can be challenged and may even be overturned. This could be done via email, discussion forums or social media. Encouraging the learners to reflect on their learning may get them to think about their attitudes and beliefs and they can record these on blogs, Wikis, their own webpages or discussion forums. Using a variety of digital tools within sessions can help learners understand that diversity is normal and that different people will prefer different tools. By helping them engage with such tools you can expose learners to a variety of possibilities, as well as engage them, for example, the use of Socrative quizzes. Encouraging learners to take different tools and use them in a different way than they know how to, for example, using the camera or video on mobile phone or Nearpod to draw rather than create presentations.