Learning environment managing digital literacy learning

This resource will explain three environments in which digital literacy learning may take place and then analyse two characteristics of individual environments in which digital literacy learning may take place.

Analysis of a range of environments in which digital literacy learning may take place

A variety of learning environments in which digital literacy learning can take place

Workshop setting - in centre

Horseshoe classroom set up?

The traditional classroom which has been used to teach ICT (Information Communication Technology) provides a learning environment which supports digital literacy learning, i.e. has internet access and plug points etc. It is normally supported by the tools, techniques and technology. The learners are encouraged to use a variety of tools and technology to support and enhance their learning alongside the tutor. This environment is primarily tutor led with learners receiving support and guidance from them. The workshop setting would have facilities that include: PCs, Ipads, Interactive Whiteboard, Wifi, various software installed on computers and online applications.

This environment has supporting relevant organisational policies and procedures in place in the areas of teaching and learning, human resources, health and safety and ICT that enable the facilitation of the teaching and learning process, ensure safe and responsible internet and ICT use and that ensures inclusive learning can take place.

Digital technology is often on-site in this environment and internet connectivity is often consistent. The workshop offers a safe environment for learners to explore new tools, techniques and technologies. The tutor can use Prezi, Emaze or other online presentation tool to effectively present some learning using the tools that learners are also likely to try, if there is a whiteboard in the environment. Therefore, the tutor has more opportunity for delivering a multi sensory presentation. The workshop is a great place for a learner to practice tools and techniques with their own device. The learners can, therefore, use their own equipment in a safe and secure environment. Delivering in a workshop format offers the opportunity for learners to make the most of the internet to conduct online research. It, therefore, provides the tutor with more opportunities to enhance the learning experience of the learners.

A workshop set up?

In this case, it is important to consider how the workshop tables are arranged. As digital literacy involves collaboration, it could be argued that a horse shoe table set up would be best. However, the very nature of the collaboration, it could be argued should not require this, as virtual and distance collaboration is encouraged. Nevertheless, in such a learning environment a much more friendly set up would be welcomed by the learners themselves, especially those who have had bad experiences of learning in groups before hand. A group of square tables together allowing learners to face each other (they should be square to provide more from for the learners to work if they are using laptops), if they are being grouped can also work for the same reason. It is proven that learners learn best from each other, therefore, such environments lend themselves to this kind of collaborative learning. A big table set up with all learners around it could also be good if the group is large and a lot of whole group activities are being undertaken. It really does depend on the types of activities being undertaken in the session. Realistically, there should be a mix, therefore the horseshoe set up can lend itself to all of these types of activities, i.e. paired, small group collaboration and whole group tasks.

Grouped learners

Work Based learning setting - the workplace by someone's work desk

An office

This type of learning takes place in an office where the learner is likely to use digital tools as part of their work. The type of technology, tools and techniques that they use usually reflect the type of work being undertaken which is more meaningful to the learner. Knowledge of that they use and do provides the tutor with an idea of the types of new tools and techniques that can be used in this environment. Therefore, a more flexible and appropriate method of course delivery and assessment is required. This type of learning allows providers to provide access for learning to individuals in the workplace. It is important to note that the internet may not be easily accessible in such an environment for security reasons. Use of mobile internet may be required instead in this case.

The tools, techniques and technologies in a work based environment will reflect a learner’s real life experience. Learners can try collaborative approaches with their real team. Real time/life problems will present themselves and the opportunity will be there for learners to overcome issues in realistic and relevant ways. Confidence, engagement and motivation will increase by using the new tools in real scenarios. Digital literacy learning in the workplace therefore promotes more active learning by its very nature. The work based environment is well known to the learner making them feel safe and secure, which can be a hurdle that may need to be overcome in a workshop environment, especially because people do not know one another. Teaching within 'their' environment may help to alleviate any negative views of education. Being in the learner’s place of work may help to overcome a fear of technology as they are in a familiar environment with people they know. The tutor coming into the learner’s work place helps build and foster positive relationship with the learner and employer based on mutual respect.

The tutor should be mindful of where the learner works and who with. Are they too close to a colleague, whom they do not want to disclose any weaknesses in digital literacy. Are they in hearing distance? Is the office noisy and hard to concentrate in? These are considerations that should be discussed with the learner prior to delivery and a more appropriate session environment should be organised. This said, a large part of the course is to collaborate with others. If the learner is the only learner in the workplace, then they will have to identify others with which they could collaborate that they trust. They would also need to be released from their role. This said the learner could benefit greatly from one to one attention during other parts of the session, even if this is not an efficient delivery method for the training provider, in this case Educ8.

Work Based learning setting - a nursery

Educational digital game used with children in a nursery

This type of learning takes place in a nursery where the learner is unlikely to use many digital tools as part of their work and is likely to spend most of their day doing practical tasks. It is likely that the type of technology, tools and techniques are used to assist in the education or/and entertainment of the children that are being looked after. Again, knowledge of what they use and do provides the tutor with an idea of the types of new tools and techniques that can be used in this environment. Therefore, a more flexible and appropriate method of course delivery and assessment is required again. This type of learning allows providers to provide access for learning to individuals in the workplace. There could be issues with the internet unlike an office, which is more likely to have internet access. The technology used should be fully charged before it is used as this prevents accidents occurring and because there is not an arrange of plug sockets available in this setting because of the health and safety implications. Therefore, the technology used should be mobile and less cumbersome than a laptop, as small children are less likely to reach it if it is hand held and make changes or cause damage to equipment or injury to themselves or others. Presentation software that has child friendly templates could be a tool used here. More mobile technology is also better in this environment as plug sockets tend to not be in abundance in this type of environment. In addition, the small seats in such an environment, unless there is an office or staff room available, and cause problems with posture when using a laptop. A tablet or iPad will allow its user to use the tool and technique standing up. However, it should be added here that there may certain requirements, i.e. that the video and camera function on the device is disabled for safeguarding purposes. This said any childcare worker should have had the necessary safeguarding checks, ICT and safeguarding policies in the setting should be checked before hand, however.

The tools, techniques and technologies in such a work based environment will again reflect a learner’s real life experience. Learners can try collaborative approaches with their real team especially if they are paired with other nurseries, this can save travelling costs and time. This is especially useful if they are managers. Real time/life problems will present themselves and the opportunity will be there for learners to overcome issues in realistic and relevant ways. Confidence, engagement and motivation will increase by using the new tools in real scenarios. Digital literacy learning in the workplace therefore promotes more active learning by its very nature. The work based environment is well known to the learner making them feel safe and secure, which can be a hurdle that may need to be overcome in a workshop environment, especially because people do not know one another. Teaching within 'their' environment may help to alleviate any negative views of education. Being in the learner’s place of work may help to overcome a fear of technology as they are in a familiar environment with people they know. The tutor coming into the learner’s work place helps build and foster positive relationship with the learner and employer based on mutual respect. It should also be noted here that in this environment there has been a divided view as to whether young children should be exposed to technology, tools and techniques to any level. This has caused certain settings or individuals in settings to fall behind in digital literacy skills and also affects the motivation of the learner. It is therefore advisable to make sessions even more engaging and useful both to the learner, employer and within the workplace, as well as discussing their usefulness to the children within their setting.

In this case, the learner and tutor needs to be mindful that sessions should be delivered without children around. They should be released by their employer to work on these skills whether in the setting privately or outside the setting in a workshop. This is because they will not be able to fully concentrate on the learning if they are repeatedly being called away and being disturbed by the children, whom are naturally curious about the technology and the colourful resources they are using and producing. Another consideration is whether the setting has internet access. Mobile internet would provide the solution to this issue. Another possible concern about the setting could be music disruption.This would need to be discussed with the learner. They may find music helps them concentrate. If that could be use they do not, is there another venue that could be used in the setting if music for the children or from the kitchen is audible? If it is the latter, could it be turned off?

A virtual learning environment

Learners have the opportunity to participate and collaborate with other learners, including the tutor through appropriate tools and techniques at agreed timescales. This environment is fully inclusive and provides learning which may not have been possible by more traditional methods due to distance and availability of the learners. Learners are provided with increased flexibility at working at their own pace, virtually handing in their work and receiving instant feedback.

The virtual classroom can be used in addition to traditional classroom methods, which open up communication and enable a wide variety of communication channels such as forum, discussions, threads, polls and surveys.

The virtual classroom provides the opportunity for collaborative working to take place amongst peers and tutors. This can be in real-time which can develop a deeper conversation and understanding of context.

Tools, techniques and technologies provide an vast range of teaching and learning platforms and resources that promote and support the virtual environment. Digital resources can be developed and are accessible to all learners in a variety of different formats in order to engage them in a fully inclusive digital literacy learning environment. These can be updated easily.

Some learners are unable to travel to a workshop for various reasons, for example, if it is too far away from them or they have child are issues, so this provides a flexible alternative to a workshop setting.

Overheads are reduced to training providers such as Educ8 by doing this; however, there is a reliance on the learner to invest in equipment and the internet access that is essential for the learning environment to succeed.

The tutor must ensure that all learners are informed of key virtual meet dates and times in advance so that all are present for discussion.

Credits:

Created with images by fr4dd - "In den Bergen" • Micah Sittig - "Workshop classroom" • 377053 - "mac freelancer macintosh" • FirmBee - "office freelancer computer" • FirmBee - "office tax business" • OkiPlay - "Oki Play Old Macdonald farmerlizer"

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