Digital literacies for teachers

A really, really quick intro…

Yesterday, I (with the help of Yen-Ling) lead a 1.5 hour workshop for the secondary school teachers in training on technology.  I went in with the idea that tech for teachers covers both what specific tools would be useful for classroom practice *and* that teachers should understand tech as culture and that kids and adults are living digital lives more and more.  Teachers should understand the kinds of new things happening with new media so that they can help get their students to be critical consumers/producers of the new media.

Below is the text from the hand-out I used for the workshop!  Among other things, I forgot to cover Wikipedia and what it means for the changing nature of research and distributed knowledge, participatory culture, etc.

Digital Literacies March 5, 2008
Mark Chen and Yen-Ling Lee – UW TEP tech instructors
markdangerchen at gmail and yenlinglee at gmail

Technology use for some kids is more than using the proper tool for particular problems.  Instead, it can mean participating in a digital culture, where certain technologies are integrated into everyday living.

Thus, technology for teachers encompasses two things.  First, we should familiarize ourselves with certain digital tools that may help us accomplish certain goals, whether that’s finding and editing a lesson plan on the web, writing about classroom life on a blog for parents, or using certain techs for in-class instruction.

Beyond that, however, we teachers should also include understanding students’ everyday use of techs as part of a larger endeavor of connecting with our students and their communities.  The goal is to better understand the contextual ways in which kids use tech so we may begin to see, and in turn help them begin to see, how a critical literacy of different techs/media can happen.

In other words, technology is more than tool use on a computer; it is also everyday digital cultural practice that teachers are obligated to help students navigate.  Of utmost importance is the ability to produce/consume/criticize/question cultural goods of all sorts of media.  To help kids be critically literate, we also have to be literate.

Skills needed to thrive in a digital culture
•    critical thinking – always question authority and motives
•    desire to participate – ideas are shared, edited, flipped, and reshared
•    collective/connective thinking – together we are smarter; experts know where to look or who to turn to for answers, but these answers are collaborated through digitally mediated “conversations”
•    playfulness – builds community and motivation to learn; fun = learning

Specific skills/tools teachers should know or know where to find info about
•    how to evaluate web content
•    using a projector/smart board/document camera and PowerPoint
•    how to post to (and create) websites, blogs, discussion boards, etc.
•    instant messaging and/or text messaging
•    informed knowledge about computer and video games
•    social networking sites

Intro to web texts
•    A cool video regarding digital text:
•    Fan-fiction:
•    Knobel, M. & Lankshear, C. (Eds). (2007). A new literacies sampler.
•    Jenkins, H., et. al. (2007?). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Found at:

Google Page Creator
•    Help on using Page Creator:

Blogs and blog readers
•    To create a blog:
•    To read blogs:
•    To read teacher blogs:

Social networking sites
•    Facebook:
•    Social networking in the classroom?

•    Edward Tufte’s PowerPoint is Evil:
•    Donald Norman’s In Defense of PowerPoint:
•    This tutorial includes ideas of PowerPoint in the classroom:
•    25 good tips:
•    Further resources and tips on PowerPoint:

Digital games
•    Artificial Wisdom – game reviews for educational and social benefits:
•    Barry Joseph on Grand Theft Auto in the library:
•    Gee, J. (2003). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy.

More resources
•    General list of online teacher resources including Excel, PowerPoint, iMovie, etc.
•    The Digital Learning Commons – free reviewed resources (lesson plans, online encyclopedias, guide to the web, etc.) for all WA teachers:
•    Educator Toolkit:

Leave a Reply