"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Digital-Literacy Skills

Resources and learning are two different things. The internet indeed offers greater access to information on any topic. The depth and breadth of information it provides at anyone's fingertips is simply astonishing. Internet usage in countries is continuously increasing over the years. Access and speed are both improving. Its penetration among youth is usually higher. The internet is quite different from television and radio, from cable or network broadcasts. The information in these older media is limited in scope and variety compared to what is stored on the world wide web. Without doubt, the internet provides a treasure of resources for education. One can read a newspaper, an encyclopedia, a journal. One can chat with friends, share videos and photographs, without leaving home. The Philippines is no exception. The following are data compiled by the Asia Digital Marketing Association for internet usage in the Philippines:

Unfortunately, quantity does not usually mean quality and resources do not necessarily translate into learning. More importantly, not everything found on the internet is correct or even useful. "Separating the wheat from the chaff" is much required. Leslie Harris O'Hanlon in "Teaching Students Better Online Research Skills" writes:
Sara Shaw, an elementary school teacher in Avon, Mass., realized she needed to teach online research skills several years ago when her students kept turning in projects riddled with misinformation. The flawed material often came from websites the students used. They took the information as fact, when it often was just someone's personal opinion. 
Ms. Shaw thinks teaching online research skills is even more critical than it was just a few years ago. More than ever, information is literally at the fingertips of students through smartphones, tablet computers, and other digital devices. 
"They will go on Google and type a word, and that is the extent of their research skills," said Ms. Shaw, who taught 5th grade for 10 years and now teaches special education at Ralph D. Butler Elementary School. "There is so much more to doing research on the Internet."
The above is the situation in the United States, a country with a relatively high functional literacy (above 80% of the population), yet literacy in the digital world is being questioned. In fact, in a survey of Advanced Placement (AP) and National Writing Project teachers, serious reservations have been raised regarding how students use the internet.

Visit http://www.pewinternet.org/~/media//Files/Reports/2012/PIP_TeacherSurveyReportWithMethodology110112.pdf to read this report
The above reports the following as the overall impression of how well students in these writing courses (These courses are already selective towards better performing students) are using the internet for extracting information:

The amount of gray in the above figure is significant, demonstrating a general lack of confidence among teachers in how their students use the internet for gathering information. These are students who are enrolled in advanced writing courses.

One may ask what the situation is in the Philippines. I am not aware of any survey similar to what the Pew Research Center did in the US. However, the fact that publishing in peer-reviewed journals is not that common, the fact that most are not aware of where reliable information could be found enables one to guess that the situation is unlikely to be better than in the US. Recently, I received a comment on one of the articles in this blog, "Paths To Math: Engaging Students and Teachers", from a student in the Philippines:
"I had learn a lot in the information given on this site by Mam Angel C. de Dios, im glad that K to 12 was implemented in the Philippines despite the hardship and many critics who are against it. The Philippines is one of the two the nation around the world that have only have until grade 10, we lack 2 years in our educational system, and many studies confirmed that this one of the factors that decrease our performance in science and math in the findings in TMSS. The lack of preparation to go to college since we lack two years in grade level make it difficult for students to adjust college life and also poverty on which also factors that decrease the student to go to school. I just hope that mam angel would give me more information on the K to 12 for im undergoing my research study on this area."
I think the above comment says a lot. How many can actually read and understand what is inside this blog?

The internet is indeed a rich resource. Unfortunately, not everything on the internet is correct. On top of all of these, there is also the concern for distraction and poor time management. One simply has to visit Facebook to see all of these concerns. And yes, these are very serious concerns.

1 comment:

  1. PDI inquirer columnist mike tan wrote a good, balanced column on K+12 from the POV of tertiary educ...