iPads have been in the elementary classrooms and in hands of our students for some weeks now. Having the opportunity to work with a number of classes and teachers I get to see a great deal of exciting work going on that incorporates the power and versatility of the iPad. One thing that is interesting to me is that when the iPad was launched it was seen as a media consumption device. It was intended for us to watch movies, read books, listen to podcasts and subscribe to magazines. However, it has quickly become a very powerful media creation tool. The ability to construct videos, work with images, create books and share all of this online is quite astounding. A device with this much power also helps us as educators to develop our students’ digital literacies.
When I went to school, being literate defined you as a person who could read and write. In our 21st century landscape, being literate means a great deal more for our children. Essentially to be considered literate today means being able to access, communicate, evaluate, construct, deconstruct, manipulate, design and publish information in a variety of digital forms. At least, that is my definition! These new literacies don’t take the place of reading and writing, they have just extended the form.
This month, a variety of projects have showcased student growth in this area. Students have been creating videos to communicate their message about what it means to be a responsible digital citizen. Personal narratives are being developed as digital stories incorporating video, images and text as a new way to publish. Also, science experiments are being presented as short videos using the power of the camera to capture information as it happens. Book reports are being developed by students who can communicate their enthusiasm by videoing themselves giving the review. As learners and educators, we are really at the beginning of this journey and we still have much to learn. However, our initial steps are proving positive and we are definitely helping our students become digitally literate individuals in a fast paced, dynamic digital world. (Mike Moody, ES Instructional Technology Coach)