Nicky Hockly – Digital literacies



thank you very much for coming and the director of pedagogy of the consultancy or TCE for short and I have indeed written quite a few books and I do like to start with a slide of my various books written by myself or co-authored because I feel it does kind of show my credentials perhaps as a nerd I do realize I look like a typical nerd I don't have a beard I'm not 25 long bushy you know hipsters beard and I'm not wearing you know sort of jeans and a t-shirt but I do like technology but more than that I like teaching so my background is teaching and teacher training and this is my perspective on all of this okay so we're going to be talking about digital literacies and of course the first question is what are digital literacies so if you looked at the program the answer is actually there but I'd like to illustrate it through an example this is always the easiest way to perhaps explain slightly complex concepts look familiar we have all seen this probably more often than we would like to right it's possibly one of the most successful or famous memes of all time this the original of this thing was a poster a paper poster which appeared do you know what year more or less it appeared 1940 summers at the 40s it's actually in the context of the Second World War here in Britain during the Second World War the government produced these sort of what would you call them motivational or you know inspirational posters there are some very famous examples and this was one that was produced by the British government but it was never actually made publicly available it wasn't shown to the general public so it lay unused in an in a box in an attic somewhere in the UK for many many decades and then it was found in the early 2000s somebody found an example of this and it was displayed in a local bookshop people started to notice it t-shirts got produced coffee mugs got produced and then something interesting happened so there was something about the original the people in the early 2000s really enjoyed it was enjoyed from a slightly ironic perspective because of course Britain was no longer in the Second World War but there was something about it that people thought was quite fun after this first version if you like of the original poster online you've probably seen many of these there are lots these are some of my favorites when you look at this and you start thinking about what it's saying it actually has quite a complex message doesn't it it's actually a very pithy short commentary on an entire political and economic system and so is that the one next to it you have to kind of understand what this is the symbol at the top is to understand this version of the meme and the same thing here you need to understand this language this is a sort of slightly silly one this I love that this is my absolute favorite and the way I understand this one is it somebody who's busy panicking and somebody else says keep common clearly too late they've also just died this one is very interesting why keep calm and fake a British accent why not an American accent why not a Canadian accent why not a South African accent like mine I mean you could just put it on it it'll be like really convincing why a British accent this is a real question why why do you think exactly there we go so we have this image of the British as being very calm sort of stiff upper-lip in the face of adversity and they're you know they will never let their emotions show which is of course a complete stereotype and you know not necessarily true but you need to understand that to understand this meme it's got some complex culture all associations and assumptions behind it so this is a very nice example I think of digital literacies because there are several things that you need to be able to do to both consume or understand these and also to produce them let's have a look what do you need to be able to produce this kind of meme first of all digital skills right you need to be able to create the meme I mean physically created you need to be able to work with the text and the images you know put in your logo use capital letters use the same kind of typeface and then you need to know how to share it with people where are you going to put it how you going to get it out there so those are what we might call the digital or the technology skills but you also need other skills including these so some of those are very clever very creative the cultural knowledge for example in the first two about the political systems you need to understand that you need to have historical knowledge in fact social appropriate see so what are you putting in your meme you need to be careful that it's not offensive or in fact maybe you want it to be offensive a lot of memes and a lot of remix is often critical of things and some people will find that offensive depending on what it's saying and then you need to be able to participate in the internet cultures or subcultures by sharing it putting it somewhere where it's going to get viewed and getting people to take notice and hopefully enjoy it so there's quite a lot of things involved in digital literacies digital literacies is not just knowing how to create a Word document technical skills are one thing but there are many other sort of more difficult to define skills involved as well ok great all right so my co-authors Gavin Doody and Mark Pegram and I came up with a kind of a framework for trying to deconstruct a little bit or pick apart what all of these various skills might involve if you are digitally literate there are quite a few things that you need to know how to do not just how to use a word document and we came up with this idea of kind of four areas or four domains or four foci and these are them and I'm going to talk you very briefly through what some of these sub skills are per domain so this is the sort of theory part the first one is this idea of a focus on information of course information the age of the Internet it's everywhere we need to be able to manage it understand it decode it and share it but perhaps most important is we need to be able to deal with the massive amount of information that we receive online information overload is a serious preoccupation and something I'm sure that happens to all of us so knowing how to filter out all of that ever launch of information online you may for example use your networks online to filter information apparently these days most people keep up with world events through Facebook through what people share in their Facebook networks and that has its dangers apart from its advantages information literacy is kind of the basic literacy that has always been part of educational agenda whatever the topic and that is the ability to find information to be able to assess it to decide how accurate it is and you know whether the provenance basically so to be able to be critical about the information that you find these days and of increasing importance is this idea of data literacy data is becoming more and more sort of buzzword in our context as well so you think about the data that we generate many of you might have for example a kind of a watch like this or a Fitbit where you do your 10,000 steps a day and maybe you input your food and you do a calorie counter and it gives you all this information about yourself often very depressing information as in my case how do we sort through all of that data and how do we understand it and how do we make sense of it this kind of counting of stuff as as it affects our personal lives health data whatever it is is part of what's called the quantified self-movement I'm sure you've heard of this the quantity quantified self but in education we have huge amounts of data being generated through learning management systems apps and so on and Phillip referred to this a little bit in his talk earlier uhm so as a teacher being able to look at all of the data that your students may be generating in a learning management system and then trying to make sense of it that's not easy the interpretation of data it's a bit like more statistics you've heard the expression lies damned lies and statistics we might say lies damned lies and possibly data depending on what you do with it what you decide to do with it and then this last one up here the idea of tagging digital artifacts with keywords for example your photos whatever it might be and link to that hashtag literacy so if you're using something like Instagram or snapchat or Twitter using hashtags for tagging which makes information easier to retrieve and find later on ok so that's the first one information the second one is this idea of focusing on communication and of course communicating these days with online resources is not just words it's not just text it's also images and memes and videos and sounds and all of those things so I won't go through these one by one but I do want to highlight a couple the first one is this hyper text hyper text is text that you have online that has hyperlinks so if you think of something like Wikipedia that's hypertext you can click on a link and it'll take you somewhere else now why is hypertext important to us as English language teachers your students may be producing hypertext I mean they're definitely producing text they used to do by hand on paper but these days they may be producing text online maybe they're doing blog posts or you have a wiki or whatever it might be or you have a Facebook group but they're producing text online if they are including hyperlinks in their work online they need to understand certain things about hyperlinks the first thing is that they no need to know how to create a hyperlink okay now that's easy I think we can all create a hyperlink in document write a word document but think about if I have a text of let's say a hundred words what if I have 25 hyperlinks in that text what's the effect on the reader it actually makes it extremely difficult to read when you read hyper hyper linked text you're I kind of snags on each of those links and you find yourself saying well wonder where that goes shall I click I mean not that slowly right but you are making these very fast decisions and it slows down reading and it also affects the retention of the content you don't remember as much afterwards so the number of hyperlinks that you include or your students include in their texts is important if you over hyperlink you affect the reading experience you also look like you don't know what you're talking about if you have to keep referring to external Authority for absolutely everything you're saying it looks like you have no opinion of your own so the judicious use of hyper linking is an important digital skill and particularly pertinent to language students I would argue another one I want to just quickly focus on is this one of code now by code I mean writing computer code and this is where everybody freaks right it's not an easy thing to do it's also not a necessary thing to do there has been a movement within many many educational curricula towards teaching children to code there has been a movement here in the UK for example in primary and secondary schools to teach coding I'm going to Lithuania in August for work and I've been looking into their curricula and they have included what they call ICT lessons in the curriculum which involves coding it's considered to help mathematical thinking and logical thinking and so on ok now personally I think this is the usual jumping on the bandwagon let's all start to code it's all going to be brilliant right we're going to solve education but coding can be useful I have no computer background I've never learned to code but I do now know how to kind of understand a bit of HTML enough to be able to look at one of my blog posts maybe map the image that I've put in my blog post is enormous and it looks awful and I want a small version but how do I make it smaller I know to go into the source code and change the numbers which are the dimensions of the image that is not easy to do and I can resize an image with a very minimal knowledge of coding I know enough coding to be able to do what I want to do basically which is nothing complicated I'm not an app developer and I never want to be okay so code again when you see this in educational curricula I think a pinch of salt with that one obviously motile multimodal or multimedia literacy is important being able to understand image and text and the juxta Bishan juxtaposition of the two because more and more communication takes place multi modal II online these days so these ones are key all right as I said I want to stick on all of these this is an interesting one the idea of collaboration because of course now that we live in a networked society collaboration is so much easier it's supported by digital technologies but there are certain things we need to be able to do one of them is to be very aware of our own personal online identity if you like what kind of identity are you presenting to others online if your user name is you know hot sexy chick 52 maybe in a professional context this is not the kind of image that you want to get right now of course you're adults and you laugh and you know not to do that but do your students personal literacy includes your online identity management being aware of your digital footprint so what you're leaving behind in the past and also knowing how to protect your identity from threats so for example you know protecting your financial information not giving you our personal information that sort of thing participatory literacy so using online networks to be able to participate in a wider professional culture in the case of English language teachers of course having your own personal learning network which might be a group of teachers that you you know communicate with on Twitter or via Facebook or wherever it might be network literacy this is the idea of participation as well but actually using networks to kind of leverage perhaps common goals so the idea of global citizenship fits quite nicely into this using online media and online communication channels to reach a kind of common goal and you probably know that the Pisa tests for 2018 this year are going to include testing in inverted commas of global citizenship so this is a big one in educational agenda everywhere inter-cultural of course being able to communicate effectively with people online from other cultures and in an ethical sort of way okay the last one critical literacy we have a couple of kind of subcategories here we might talk about material critical literacy and by that I mean think about your mobile phone where does it come from what minerals are used in it how are they sourced what are the work conditions like for the people who produce your fancy smartphone what happens to e-waste when you throw away your mobile phone every year where is all of that going so the kind of wider questions here critical literacy might also include looking at new trends for example artificial intelligence AI robotics which is becoming more more important and will only grow in our lifetimes what does that mean for human machine communications what is happening with that interface how does it affect us as social beings both individually and in our communications with others you've probably heard recently about this conversation with a bot that was put together by was at Google I don't remember but a telephone call that was I heard on the news where somebody rings and interacts with a bot or kind of a chat bot spoken spoken language without realizing that it's not a real person at the other end of the line these are big questions that are going to affect us all personally in the future and probably the fairly near future and the last one is my favorite remix this idea of taking an original digital artifact artifact and changing it into something else mixing up the elements and creating something new and the meme that I showed you earlier the stay calm meme is an excellent example of remix where you create something new that is creative and fun and often critical it can be uncomfortable depending on what you produce that's enough of the theory the big question I think for us as English language teachers is why surely our job is to teach the present perfect and phrasal verbs what does this got to do with us so let's start with a couple of fairly well-known people play Shirky is an au s based educational technologist fairly well known in the EdTech community and this is what he says every minute to read that so I think basically he's saying we've always had the what's known as the 3 R's in literacy in primary and secondary school so the 3 R's being reading riting and rithmetic or maths and recently I've heard a fourth are added which is a research which is information literacy and he's saying well now we need more than that of course we still need the 3 R's but we need more because of these digital tools and because of the effect that they're having on us as individuals and on society I teach in Spain in Barcelona and based in Barcelona and this is from the Spanish National Curriculum translated from the Spanish into the English so the Biot in oh is the bulletin of the state from 2006 which is when literacies first appeared in the curriculum so just have a look this is very typical of state education most educational curricula around the world will have something similar similar to this somewhere in Spain is called Digital competences but they're essentially referring to the idea of digital literacies and what's interesting about it is that they're not sticking to just the use of computers but also this idea of communication and collaboration through computer generated networks and you will most likely have something in your country that looks a little bit like this and it all sounds great on paper and of course the usual problem is that for teachers what does that mean in the classroom you know it sounds lovely we should probably all be doing it but how so the operationalizing of digital literacies in the class is where the challenges lie for teachers okay we've got one more here I think this is my co-writer mark Pegram from our book on digital literacies okay so he is an English language teaching as a professor at the University of Western Australia in fact but a trained classroom teacher and he's arguing that it can make what we do in our classrooms just a little bit more relevant and a little bit more interesting and then of course I had to get my own quote in there it was what I think bringing Israeli down to the kind of institutional level and I think what's important here is this idea of a long side so it's not like we stopped teaching the present perfect in those vital phrasal verbs but that we start to integrate this kind of thing into what we already do good communicative language teaching is good communicative language teaching and it actually lends itself extremely well to integrating digital literacies into what we do so I gave you an example earlier of a blog entry maybe your students instead of writing an essay on a piece of paper they're writing a blog entry on a topic well that obviously brings in things like information literacy they have to research search literacy and they have to filter the information that they find hypertech's literacy perhaps they need to put some photos with their blog post so they need to source their photos they need to respect copyright they need to know how to quote sources there's all sorts of interesting things happening there apart from just the use of the language to create their blog posts okay was there something in these reasons for using digital literacies in the language classroom is there anything that you came up with that hasn't really been reflected in what we said okay so I think also there is one more thing I don't I don't know if you're gonna mention that later on it also gives you know gives us a chance to use authentic texts that's really important in English classes so if we're you know using digital materials digital resources it's very easy to you know come up with everyday texts that we can see around lovely thank you very important point and by texts presumably not just written text but video your audio and so on and so forth ank you thank you for that any more contributions that we didn't cover no okay all right so this is the framework again all put back together again but there are a couple of points I'd like to make first of all there's lots of overlap between all of these this is a kind of a framework in the loosest sense of the word it's a series of concepts a lot of them reflect and overlay with each other this is just a construct really a way of trying to understand what's behind the term ICT competence or digital literacy or whatever term your government is trying to use these are some of the many things that we need to know how to do and also it's not a matter of I know it I don't know it it's obviously a Cline right for example in my case coding I'm a you know I don't even think I'm a beginner I'm a kind of pre beginner when it comes to coding but that's fine for my purposes so it's not like everybody has to acquire all of these to 100% some of them are particularly important though for example information literacy search literacy and some of the networked literacies here in collaboration because of the way we live but some of them are possibly less relevant for your context and for your students so we can you know keep that as a caveat please okay so as I said before the big question for teachers is how what do I do with all the stuff in the language classroom how do I bring it in in a meaningful way not forgetting that I'm actually there to teach language because most of you are school directors and directors of studies and academic directors and so on I've tried to look at this more from an institutional level rather from the sort of classroom activities level the book that Gavin and Mark and I wrote look at specific language activities for teachers but of course you also need to be one step up and from the institutional level there needs to be some support for your teachers so I think for institutions there are three things that we need to keep in mind each of which very handily begin with T so the first one is training then teaching and then technology and please notice the order training is the most important technology is the least important and I'd like to gloss each of these for you first of all training this to me is absolutely essential if you're going to integrate any kind of technology into your schools or any use of technologies it has got to be supported by training that goes from interactive whiteboards to the use of mobile devices in the classroom and everything in between thus idea of integrating digital literacy into pre-service training again if you look at the curricula for a lot of pre-service teacher education programs it's on paper but it's often lip service and trainers themselves are often not confident in how to integrate technologies into what they do because they weren't too trained so I still see pre-service training programs where technology is kind of the last session on the last day for an hour I've just recently been invited to give the technology session on an in-service diploma teacher training course which I find extraordinary in 2018 and that the trainers are not integrating digital technologies into what they're already doing it's still seen as something separate and it is certainly not it's something to be integrated within the curriculum so I think this idea of digital literacies or competences as something standalone has got to go it needs to be integrated into what we do as effective communicative language teachers of course we need to replace this transmission idea of pedagogy but I think that's been around for a while collaborative models and so on lend themselves especially well to digital cultures and digital networks the spaces themselves need to perhaps be reconfigured from this sort of ro environment to more flexible learning spaces because technology can operate much better in those kind of spaces we need to educate the stakeholders about why we are integrating the technologies that we're integrating into our language lessons and that might include parents depending on what you're doing you probably don't need to explain to parents that you have interactive whiteboards in your school but you may need to tell parents about why you're getting your students to integrate their mobile devices you may need to get buy-in from the parents for that so they don't think it's just about playing games Phillip mentioned this in his talk the importance of ongoing continual professional development whatever it is that you're training your teachers on it needs to be ongoing rather than the sort of flyby training that you often see so ongoing sustained over time and finally you can help your teachers get the training they need by exploring formal and informal training options so formal might be a course a face-to-face course and online workshops conferences informal might be just groups of teachers meeting together on a Friday afternoon and discussing what they're doing in their class and that's it teaching materials integrating digital literacies into the syllabi of teaching materials and into the curriculum overall this is important again not the sort of aired on the last activity at the end of a unit okay everybody let's do something with technology let's integrate it as a choice throughout whatever we're doing with our materials integrating it into course activities and again the key word here is integrate this idea of assessment for digital now let me go back to my example of the blog post your aim here is to help your students develop their writing right and you've got them to do a blog post for the class blog and they've had to research thing and they're hyperlinked and they've put some images and so on so let's make the assessment reflect the fact that this is a digital medium we're going to of course assess their language use because now they're there to learn language so we're looking at their writing they use of vocabulary structure whatever it might be just course features but let's also integrate some of the digital elements so what about the use of hyper linking is it effective is it ineffective what about their use of images are these images sourced are they copyright this kind of thing can actually form a part of the assessment but again it's integrated into an overall language assessment the whole idea of digital materials versus add paper materials it's not either/or we can of course use both sometimes paper is effective sometimes digital is is effective sometimes it doesn't matter there was an interesting study conducted in Japan using crosswords so crossword puzzle type things on a mobile phone versus crosswords on paper control groups experimental groups in a control group and the researchers found that there was actually no difference that the level of vocabulary acquisition and the level of motivation there's no significant difference suggesting that it was a task type that was important here not the medium that the task was developed by so we need to keep a kind of critical eye Digital is not always or more effective necessarily again technology can be used very effectively to link your in-class work with your out of class work particularly when mobile device devices are used again that's another sort of three-hour training course that I could give but I'll leave it at that finally the whole technology issue and again finally this is the least important part well the most important part in that we need to be critical about it perhaps beware of this idea of the shiny box syndrome so as soon as you see something new with technology it's always sort of presented as the latest greatest Chinese loveliest thing that is going to somehow fix your teaching it's often produced sorry it's often presented as a solution right so your teaching is a problem your students aren't learning but here it is and it's all shiny and lovely and it's technology this invariably doesn't work and interactive whiteboards are in fact a very interesting case in point the British government in 1997 with the new Labour government spent millions and millions of pounds on putting iw B's into primary school classrooms there was not a single shred of evidence that it actually helped learning not one I actually met somebody by chance who'd worked on a working group through one of the universities that the government tasked to look into this before they spent all this money the working group came up with the conclusion that there was no evidence and no research evidence that could you know explain the the spending of all of this money but the government went ahead anyway because essentially what is often behind the add up to the adoption of mutant new technology is money and politics so educational technology vendors looking to make the money and the politicians looking to look you know nice next to a new shiny piece of kit so this is really important the use of technology takes place within a wider kind of political and economic context we should never ever forget that so related to that is this idea of identifying the educational technology pressure groups who are coming to you with the latest fanciest piece of kit who are they what are their interests really Phillip again mentioned this in his talk this allocating of training budgets now this is interesting at the consultancy we do quite a bit of technology consultancy work with schools and with ministries of Education and with educational institutions and we often see that the school has X amount of money and they want to allocate eighty percent to the technology and if there's teacher training which there sometimes isn't if there's teacher training it will typically be twenty percent of the budget that has got to be the other way around if any integration of technology is to be effective eighty percent on the teacher training twenty on the technology I think that's an important rule of thumb explore options for example cheaper options like bring your own device so rather than expensive kit students bringing their own mobile devices into into class and having them used in an educational way and then ensuring that the technology is actually subordinate to the learning aim so it's not that the technology overpowers what you're trying to do which is to help the students develop their language skills and finally I think this is important read the research about educational technology and make your decisions based on the evidence interactive whiteboards is a very very salutary example so much money has been spent on those and they can be used effectively don't get me wrong I've seen AI WBS used very effectively by teachers but the research says that it's not actually making that much difference so if your school is short on cash perhaps it should be spent on something else if you have millions to spend well then sure get some iw B's but if not find out whether it's going to work or not first okay I'd like you to leave you with this thought I love Diana Laura Lord she's a lecturer at the University of Education in London and you know yes I think she has a very good point positioning of technology as a solution this very techno centric view towards technology is something to be aware of I always think you know if you hear distinct rumbling sound when technology is being talked about it's probably bandwagon wheels and you need to be careful about just jumping on that and without looking at what's actually going on in background so although I love technology and I write extensively about technology I think it's important to keep a kind of critical eye on what's happening and keep these things to the forefront of your mind I do think digital literacies are important and they can be effectively integrated into the English language classroom I hope at the very least that I've provided you with some food for thought I'm here for the rest of the conference if you'd like to discuss anything do you come and ask me in the meantime thank you very much for listening thank you [Applause]

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