Howick College teacher Nathan Kerr and director of ICT Robert Douglas share their thoughts on web literacy
What is it?
Students are turning the web into a giant Lego set, where they are using content on the web, pictures, sound files, multi-media footage (television programmes, movies, games cartoons, special effects), and their own media footage, and then mixing all the content together, to produce truly unique resources, in many cases with a strong global flavour, and in many cases, the finished product – has little, or no link to the original content that was used.
Examples of Web literacy are found on Social Media Sites (Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, MSM Chat), and tribute videos on YouTube
It is not: focusing on software programmes, and what they can, and cannot do, it is not focusing on associated hardware, such as, laptops, mobile devices, tablets – it (hardware) is simply there to access the web, and its massive content supply, storage of their resources, and basic editing functions.
Why is it important?
Students are not focusing on software programmes, or hardware, including devices, and are solely using the web for content sources, distribution method, and feedback.
As the web becomes more accessible (more coverage, and cheaper), this development in learning will become more pronounced, and exciting.
For educators, web literacy could be exciting – as long as the focus on the learning is focussed on the curriculum.
For students, web literacy will allow them to demonstrate their learning, in a highly creative and unique way.
Web literacy will challenge traditional approaches towards digital learning, by removing the focus on learning software programmes, and hardware tools. Instead the focus is on transforming multi- type content into a finished product.
For students the key skills will be exploring by navigating the web for content, creating for the web via remixing content, designing the finished resource, and connecting on the web, this is done by sharing their finished project.
For educators the key skill will still be applying subject specific curriculum knowledge to the students, and managing students projects to ensure they focus on the learning objectives, and not to stray from those objectives.
Challenges of web literacy to both educators, and students is developing projects that cover all learning outcomes, while allowing students creativity to shine through.
For school management and the wider community the challenge is web accessibility, and developing policies to best match the school’s culture, and the curriculum.
School ICT manager could storage, and access those projects/resources on the cloud.
The best advice for web literacy is to focus on a specific task/assessment, this allows both the teacher, and the students to focus on a clear goal, therefore reducing the chance of getting off-task.
The techniques needed for web literacy are data capture, and data management.
Data capture can be achieved by either a simple print screen for websites, or a combination of converting media files into a more interactive file type, and transferring to a media playing, and editing software, such as MovieMaker.
ICT Manager Feedback
I own a lot of CD’s and DVD’s and I have downloaded music and movies and stored them on hard disk for when I want to use them. This marks me as being ‘pre-web.’ Why do I need to store what is available online at any time. Netflix and other systems provides access to movies and television programmes on demand. Spotify and I Heart Radio gives me access to any music I desire on demand. I have yet to make that conceptual transition that I do not need to keep it; I just need to know where to find it. This is the changing nature of web literacy. Our students are learning where to find things and how to make them interact together to create something new and unique. They are learning how to access source code and manipulate it to create. It’s a new literacy and a unique challenge to concepts of ownership and copyright.
International Community Direction
In the United States web literacy focuses on the skills and competencies needed for reading, writing and participating on the web. It has been described as "both content and activity" - web users should not just learn about the web but also how to make their own website. Web Literacy is closely related to Digital Literacy, Information Literacy, and Network literacy but differs in taking a more holistic approach. Mozilla Foundation is one of the major forces promoting, and developing it in the United States.
In the United Kingdom web literacy tends to concentrate on web etiquette (net etiquette), and standardised web literacy in terms of the best way to promote content on websites.
Web literacy future is based on web accessibility for the students, student’s creativity, and the student’s ability to apply curriculum knowledge using content from the web.
Educators will continue to deliver subject specific curriculum knowledge to the students.
Web Literacy is continuing to move schools away from being pen and paper islands in a digital sea.
The teething stage will be developing best practice, based on specific skills, and strategies to enable the best possible learning outcomes for the students.
Web Literacy has the following traits
· Students use the internet as a giant Lego set, mixing and matching files into a highly unique resource
· Many of the resource/products develop via web literacy have little, or no link to the original files used to make those resources
· Web literacy has an international flavour due to the internet
· Web literacy does not focus on learning software programmes, or hardware issues.
· Web Literacy continues to move schools away from being pen and paper islands in a digital sea.