Digital Literacy

The new National Curriculum has changed ICT to ‘Computing’ and  highlights that it will enable children to become digitally literate and they will be able to ‘use, and express themselves and develop their ideas through, information and communication technology’ and therefore be successful and active participants of a digital world. (


In our Contemporary Issues in Teaching and Learning session today we looked closely at this concept of ‘digitally literate’ to find out what it really means and how we go about achieving it. It was discussed that there are primarily 2 camps of thought when it comes to being digitally literate.

1)      That we should prepare children to be literate in a world which is

2)      That it is enough to ensure that children are literate in the traditional sense of the word. This can then be extended to cover digital technologies.

We discussed how children may become digitally literate as they brought up with technology all around them and that Prenski  (2001) describes this as the children being ‘digital natives’ and adults who have not grown up with technology are ‘digital immigrants’. This concept can go some way in explaining how digital literacy is achieved for some children. However, caution must be taken when using these terms as although children may have grown up in a digital age, they have all had different experiences and exposure and can still make mistakes or feel nervous around technologies  .We discussed that being digitally literate meant that you could interpret, analyse and use technology. Furthermore it was raised that it should be a two way process which involves being able to communicate your own ideas in a suitable media with the appropriate skills.

Futurelab (2010) defines digital literacy as follows:

“To be digitally literate is to have access to a broad range of practices and cultural resources that you are able to apply to digital tools. It is the ability to make, represent and share meaning in different modes and formats; to create, collaborate and communicate effectively and to understand how and when digital technologies can best be used to support these processes”




 The picture above illustrates the elements Belshaw describes as necessary to create a digitally literate individual. Belshaw emphasises that these elements are contextual, that is, they depend on the personal, social and cultural context within which they develop (Belshaw, 2011).  The issue of context is of particular importance when it comes to a school KS1/KS2 setting.The new curriculum for computing states that children need to become digital literate and learn the skills necessary to cope with new technologies in a modern world. (DfE., 2013.)  As the subject of computing is such a new and maybe daunting subject for teachers, I believe Belshaw’s 8 elements can be a great platform to build computing lessons plans from, they may act almost as a check list  by which teachers can check to see if their lessons are creating digital literacy.


In the session today we worked in small groups with iPad’s on the app ‘Puppet Pals’. Our task was to re tell a fairy tale in a modern day setting, we used our own narrations, characters and scenes. This was an activity that was very enjoyable for all involved and the connections to literacy and the development of the skills of storytelling were evident. The activity could also be applied to other subjects such as history, drama and R.E. However, as teachers we must always be aware of what the children are learning, just because they are engaged/enjoying it doesn’t always correlate to learning. This is illustrated by a study into Interactive Whiteboards which showed little improvement or actually a drop in attainment after their introduction. ttp:// Therefore it is essential that the new technologies are utilised effectively by the class teacher.

 Children are surrounded by technology in all aspects of their lives and this should be reflected in the classroom. The use of iPads is a clear example of how we can incorporate the digital world into the classroom and allows children to become comfortable and literate in a wide range of technology in all settings and environments.


Belshaw, D. (2011-Present: last updated 6 February 2013). What is ‘digital literacy’? A Pragmatic investigation. . Available: Last accessed 19/11/2013.

Prensky, Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants , 2001 (MCB University Press, Vol. 9 No. 5, October 2001)

DfE., 2013. Computing programmes of study: key stages 1 and 2. [online] DfE. Available at: [Accessed 19 November 2013].

Futurelab., 2010. Digital Literacy Across the Curriculum. [online] Futurelab. Available at: [Accessed 19 November 2013].< [Accessed 19 November 2013].





Safeguarding and Wellbeing

The lecture on ‘Safeguarding and Wellbeing’ looked into a number of different areas: Social Inclusion, Happiness, Relationships within the classroom, Resilience and E-safety. I have decided to focus my blog post on ‘E-safety’, as it is an area of growing concern to many teachers I have spoken to. With the constant improvement and developments in digital technology and the fact that it is becoming more prominent in our schools and homes, it is imperative we keep ourselves up to date with developments so important to children’s education and safety.


‘Home use of ICT raised concerns about access to social networking sites, their child protection implications, and fears about access to inappropriate ‘adult’ material. These matters were addressed in the Byron Review for the DCSF which made recommendations for ensuring ‘e-safety’ including that it becomes part of the curriculum and is a training priority for new and existing teachers.’

(Alexander et al, 2010, p.354)

Teachers (and all school staff) have a role of responsibility and need to ensure that children under their care are safeguarded as effectively as practicable. It is vital that we prioritise the safety and wellbeing of children above anything else. One of the emerging challenges to teachers today is e-safety. As we know, the internet is one of the most useful resources we have available to us as developing professionals, but we cannot underestimate the dangers it poses to children who are becoming fluent in IT at earlier ages. The new online technology that is now available in schools can seem daunting to teachers but is not something that can be avoided. We cannot hide away from developing technology, we need to use it and encourage children to engage with it as fully as possible. That is why E-safety is so important.

There were 3 main areas of focus on ‘E-safety’ – the 3 C’s:

  1. Contact
  2. Content
  3. Commercialism

The Commercialism area was mainly about data protection – ensuring details were kept private and being aware of premium rate services online. Content was looking at how you could set out to ensure that the websites used were valid and that they did not access any inappropriate materials. Also, we discussed how you would address an issue if it did arise e.g. accidentally going onto a white supremacist site. It is not something we can ignore but an opportunity to discuss the dangers and what they should do when using the internet for themselves. It should be taken as a chance to empower the children as independent and responsible internet users.

The most concerning area of e-safety and the most commonly known is the Contact aspect. We looked at the dangers of Social Networking sites, predominantly Cyberbullying and Grooming.  We then watched a video of a true story called ‘Jenny’s story’. In the video an actress told Jenny’s story explaining how she was groomed and ended up giving out personal information to a stranger online she thought was a girl wanting to be a friend, who ended up abusing her. The most worrying part of the story was that the stranger was passed over to her by a friend she knew. The friend was concerned about this person’s online behaviour, but neither of the girls spoke to an adult; no parent, carer or teacher were made aware until it was too late. The video to Jenny’s story is below.

I think that adhering to the teachers’ standards and building good relationships based on mutual respect in a safe environment would allow children to voice their concerns and talk more openly about any issues they are having.

The school I am based in for SBT1 are currently setting up their own VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) and have recently been giving out the usernames and passwords to the Year 1 class. This will enable them to interact with each other in a safe online environment. It is monitored by the teacher and she is able to see even deleted messages. This can be used as a tool to raise awareness of health and safety issues online, as well as being a useful resource for homework and more.

‘The key attraction of accessing such social software through the portal of VLE is that, to a certain extent, important issues of safety online can be addressed, as it is possible to regulate access and membership.’

(Allen et al, 2011, p. 171)

The overall message is that it is everyone’s responsibility to try and keep children safe online. Teachers must be role models to children and be willing to talk about mistakes and dangers online while remaining open and approachable. Parents, carers and teachers must work collaboratively to help children stay safe by educating them on ‘E-safety’.



Alexander, R., Armstrong, M., Flutter, J., Hargreaves, L., Harrison, D., Harlen, W., Hartley-Brewer, E., Kershner, R., MacBeath, J., Mayall, B., Northen, S., Pugh, G., Richards, C. and Utting, D. (Ed.) (2010) Children, their World, their Education: Final report and recommendations of the Cambridge Primary Review (1st edition), Abingdon: Routledge.

Allen, J., Potter, J., Sharp, J. and Turvey, K. (2011) Primary ICT: Knowledge Understanding and Practice (4th edition), Exeter: Learning Matters.

Teachers’ Standards (Revised June 2013)

Theories of Learning

As I have never been involved with education before in my academic life I found the lecture on ‘How Learning Develops’ really helpful. I especially liked looking  deeper into Behaviourism, Constructivism and Social Constructivism, they are words I had heard mentioned at various points in the past four weeks but never with an explanation of what they were.

It has led me to look a bit deeper at not only where I have seen various features of these theories for learning in the classroom but how I would like to use them as functions in my own teaching.

Behaviourism for example works really well in some circumstances, possibly schools where behaviour management is a problem and getting children to understand instruction and good behaviour is a high priority for learning. What I find troubling about Behaviourism however, is that one of its key ideas is to disregard the child because they’re only motivation for learning is the prospect of reward and not because they think it important to learn and do well. As a teacher I would worry that a child was becoming dependent on rewards and only do what is required due to a reward or fear of a sanction. Even though I think praise is an important factor in successful teaching, as is punishment for bad behaviour but I don’t necessarily agree that it should be the motivational factor for learning. I found a video on YouTube which is really good for explaining the basics of Behaviourism:

On the other hand Constructivism believes that a child learns individually, where a child learns through playing, reading or constructing their own ideas through trial and error. I really like the idea that a child can learn through their own motivations for learning and expanding their knowledge and also that the child can build up their ideas over time. It seems that this approach will lead to a well rounded and deep understanding of the things the child is learning. Social Constructivism is very similar with its ideas of  education as an active experience for the child, but more socially conductive. In that a child would then learn through joint experience and later on consolidate the knowledge that they have gained. Through this sharing of ideas it means that language is used and that a clarification of ideas is expressed.  I think both of these are really positive in terms of learning, an individual and socially motivated theory of learning, and that they don’t have to necessarily be separated into two different modes.

I see all three of the theories that were discussed in the lecture as conducive to successful learning, and they don’t have to be separate entities as such. I believe that there is a place for all three modes in the classroom, because of the varying personalities and characters you have in your class. Their past history in school may also have an impact, if you do not know what the teacher before you used – you may have a class who were motivated by learning through reward and punishment, so it would be difficult to open up ideas to learning if you then enforced Social Constructivism as the mode of learning.


Debating the impact of digital technology on learning

Session 1 provided an insightful view into the possible negative and positive influences that ICT has on learning. This was achieved by using digital technology to gather feedback from children in a live school environment and discussing a range of debates on the subject. The fact that Skype was used in our learning is indicative of the value that technology can add in enhancing and contextualising understanding.

The debate surrounding the use of digital technology in learning is wide-reaching and takes account of cognitive learning, pedagogy, the curriculum plus, socio – economic and cultural factors. Digital technology has become embedded in schooling and now forms an integral part of teaching and learning. It is widely assumed that the use of digital technology is fulfilling its’ original aim. i.e. improving the management and organisation of schooling, empowering learners and providing an effective teaching resource. However, the reality of its application can be different to the aim of digital technology improving efficiency in schools, enhancing teaching and empowering learners. (Selwyn, N. 2011).

Children have benefitted from many advances made in society such as, the development and availability of technology which, in turn provides tools and methods to learn. Children fed back during our session that using computers in class makes learning fun and one pupil stated that they learn more in the classroom by using IT because they learnt more, it was “speedy to find answers” and easier. The Cambridge Review highlights how “children enjoy….’new media’ through computers and the internet, giving them unparalleled access to sources of information, communication, entertainment and leisure.” (Alexander, R. 2010. p.54). Therefore, the use of digital technology in schools is aligned to how society and jobs are progressing and its early introduction plays an important role in developing related skills.

Digital technology provides an interactive experience and engages children in learning in a different way compared to more traditional teaching and learning approaches. This can be turned on its head when taking the perspective of the negative influences digital technology can have on children. The Community Soundings Report referred to in the Cambridge Review (Alexander, R. 2010), focussed on the negative aspect that ICT has on children in terms of them being mere consumers, discouraging the development of communication skills and possible links to behavioural problems. particularly in connection to gaming activities at home. It was interesting that the children who fed back on their experiences of digital technology in the session explained that usage at home was predominantly for gaming and did not include learning activities similar to those engaged in at school through technology. Of course, not all children do have access to digital technology at home therefore, its availability in school is an important element in bridging that gap associated with economic disadvantage. (Selwyn, N. 2011)

The importance of developing a deep understanding of knowledge and information is highlighted particularly in constructivist approaches to teaching and learning. The comment made on the Skype call about ICT providing quick and easy learning may not be beneficial to the child’s actual learning process particularly if there are any misconceptions arising from an activity and an absence of knowing why they have reached the answer they have. It was highlighted in the lecture that studies have demonstrated that the learning undertaken in a virtual environment is not always transferable to the real environment. Developing a deep understanding within the learning process may not always be possible through the use of digital technology for all learning areas. Therefore, it is important to consider that whilst the experience, learning and skills that come with using IT are to be embraced and encouraged, the teacher’s ability to choose which learning areas will be appropriate to include the use of IT in is essential.


Alexander, R. 2010 Children, their world, their educations; final report and recommendations of the Cambridge Review, Abingdon: Routledge.

Selwyn, N. 2011 Schools and schooling in the digital age; a critical analysis, Abingdon: Routledge.