Alan November states that “educators can harness the power of the Internet to get their message out and to empower students to become more actively involved in managing their own learning.” (November, 2008, p3) However, like anything else, students must learn how to use this “powerful technology” (November, 2008, p2) correctly. Educators should not take for granted that students already know how to search, decode and read on-line content for comprehension. For example, one way to prepare students for web literacy is to teach and model an internet inquiry strategy called Quest. Quest stands for Questioning, Understanding, Evaluating, Synthesizing and Transforming. (Eagleton & Dobler, 2007, p.51)
The most striking revelation I experienced during this course is that information is already out there (on the internet) waiting to be accessed, and it is our job as educators to teach students how to sift through the good, the bad and the ugly. In other words, in the past we could count on the fact that the information was correct and accurate when using our class text books because the editors and publishers had already done the evaluating and validating of the information contained in the text ahead of time for us. Today, anybody can publish anything to the internet, and it is important to teach students how to evaluate and synthesize this data before they use it for personal and educational use. “All students need a specific skill set in order to interact with the abundant amount of information available at their fingertips.” (Laureate Education, Inc., 2009) According to Dr. Douglas Hartman, literacy is evolving,” our past was rooted in book culture, but our future will be rooted in on-line and digital media.” (Laureate Education Inc., 2009)
Going forward, the knowledge and experience I learned by creating a unit plan that included 21st century literacy strategies such as questioning, synthesizing and communicating, will help me enhance current lessons and develop future lessons that will be much more streamlined and all inclusive. My lesson plans will be written with activities in place to focus the students at the start of a lesson, take them through searching for information more efficiently, walk them through synthesizing and analyzing the data, and then sharing the knowledge through communication. This is a workflow that can be used as a guide no matter what the lesson is about.
One development goal that I would like to pursue as a result of this class is to begin an online collaborative partnership, using a wiki, with students and teachers from another school district. I think that students would enjoy working together, and this type of learning environment will help to prepare students sharpen their collaborative skills and get them used to sharing information in readiness for a global collaborative workforce. In order to prepare for this project I will need to locate a school that is willing to partner up with me, and that has the necessary equipment such as internet access, parental permission, and netiquette safety guidelines in place. However, before going live, I would probably complete a mini assignment with just my class as practice, so students can get familiar with the wiki application, and give me an opportunity to look for loopholes or areas that need addressing before the actual school to school collaboration project begins.
Eagleton, M. B., & Dobler, E. (2007). Reading the Web: Strategies for Internet inquiry. New York: The Guilford Press
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009). Program 2. New Literacies. [Educational video]. Baltimore: Author.
November, A., (2008) Web Literacy for Educators. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press.