It's simple for me to say that one of the purposes of education is to bridge the past with the present, preparing younger generations for tomorrow. Perhaps that may have been one feature of education but with the pace of change today, this perspective comes across a bit too simple, for our tomorrows are more uncertain, changing faster than ever before.
From digital literacies, digital fluencies, transliteracies to digital footsteps, how do learners make sense of all these different literacies? These new literacies are part of today, and though we use them to understand the present and past, it is not simple to predict exactly what technological and literacy needs may be needed in the future. Nevertheless, today's learners need to have a clear understanding of these new literacies.
Digital fluency may be understood as how to use a tool, when to use it and why using a certain tool may bring about a desired outcome.
Digital literacies are the new media skills which are an integral part of our lives today. Together with the traditional literacies, learners need to be fluent in both, along with digital fluency.
And as so many educators know, even though learners may be tech savy with Facebook/their social network, going to Wikipedia to help with their assignments and downloading music, there is often a gap in their digital fluencies. These gaps are apparent in the most obvious of cases - for example, when a student does not know the difference between logging in and signing up for a platform or tool. Learning does not happen in a momentary bubble. It takes time, trial and error and builds up with time and practice.
As there is a need for students to learn how to read the screen (and instructions), learn how to express themselves with the most appropriate tool/platform for their context and needs, there is also very much a need to guide them in regard to their digital footprints. This is knowledge which goes beyond not giving out one's personal address and phone number. It includes behaviour, attitudes and a transparent understanding of what it means to be a digital citizen.
Digital Citizenship is a great place to explore with learners, bridging this need to understand digital fluencies, privacy issues and includes examples by learners. There are videos but the site is not itself interactive but may serve as a springboard for class discussions and raising awareness.
Webonauts - Internet Academy is geared more towards younger learners, where they join an internet academy, choose their uniform and as they go through the academy, are given questions to answer before they graduate.
As for a possible icebreaker, why not try the quiz How Millenial Are You? Here you can find further interactive activities on the Pew Research Center which is a rich resource regarding trends, facts and numbers which are defining our world today.
Even though we may not be able to establish bridges to the future as was more common in the past, there still remains many bridges to build and guide learners through, for them to become autonomous , fluent and secure digital citizens.
What bridges do you find the most urgent to cross?