Monday, January 23, 2012

Online Learning & Digital Literacy

Working in a high school that advocates digital learning and having (teaching) one class of credit recovery students through the E2020 program, I have a high regard for offering students alternative learning environments, particularly online/digital learning. Holly states in her post, "Intrator and Kunzman 'Who Are Adolescents Today? YouthVoices and What They Tells Us' from Handbook of Adolescent Literacy Research," that "students are bored with school and they think [the teachers] don't care." Why do students find the curriculum boring? 

Being in special education, I believe not all students learn the same way. The bonus of technology and digital learning/digital literacy is that it offers students with a different way to learn because not all students obtain information the same way. Think about it. Are you more of an auditory learner? Maybe you're a visual learner or even a kinesthetic learner. Or, maybe you're a combination of these learning styles. 

For example, the E2020 program allows students to access their education online. The students listen to lectures, complete projects, write papers, take tests...essentially, they do school completely online. Pretty cool, right? I've seen students who don't do well, socially, in classes be able to excel with flying colors. Sometimes students are bored with the curriculum because they are literally geniuses and the information they are learning is really boring. These type of students need something that is self-paced. Their life can change from hating school to actually enjoying it. Below is a screenshot of the website. If you want to find out more information, you can click the picture and it will link you to the site.

However, being in education, I've recently learned that the online credit recovery classes, such as E2020, are not the only ways to offer students a digital learning environment. In Because Digital Writing Matters by Danielle De-Voss, Elyse Eidman-Aadahl, and Troy Hicks, it addresses how educators have higher standards that they have to reach with technology and these "emerging technology standards present educators with an ever-expanding list of what students should know and be able to do with computers and the read/write Web" (94). Wouldn't it be nice to have a program that incorporates and addresses all things technology, yet gives students a unique access to education? 

Well, being based from a European model, there is now this program that is popping up all around Michigan called the WAY program. WAY stands for Widening Advancement for Youth. This is exactly what the program's goal is. As part of the program they supply each student with an iMAC and Internet connection. Upon successful completion of the program, students get to keep the iMAC. How cool is that?! So, technology and digital literacy is a major focus of the program. Below you will find a screen shot of the website that links to the website when clicking on the picture and screen shots of the brochure, which give more detailed information about this unique, digital literacy-focused program. If you click on the pictures of the brochure, they enlarge and become readable.

I love digital literacy because it is such a broad field. What I love most about it is the fact that I'm learning it along with my students. I also appreciate that it is such a creative field. This gives students the opportunity to strengthen and explore their unique abilities. Literacy is no longer just reading and writing by pen and paper. It becomes something so much more. It becomes complicated and ever-expanding.

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