Using the power of research to inform ICT integration in education

Dr. Leo Casey, Professor B. C. Bruce, Allan Martin, Abigail Reynolds (2009) Digital Literacy: New Approaches to Participation and Inquiry Learning to Foster Literacy Skills among Primary School Children, Centre for Research and Innovation in Learning and Teaching, National College of Ireland

Our theoretical review points to two contrasting conceptual approaches to literacy and specifically, digital literacy. The traditional view is to regard digital literacy as a set of specific technical skills such as the ability to use software and to operate devices – this is often referred to as a skills model of literacy. In contrast, more recent and increasingly accepted theories conceive of digital literacy in terms of context and social practice – this is a situated approach to literacy. The starting point of the framework for digital literacy was to reference the practices and activities that take place in the classroom. Obviously, the goal of classroom activity is to bring about learning and as such, we grounded our digital literacy framework in a conception of learning centered on the Inquiry Cycle. The term digital literacy has been popularised by Paul Gilster, who, in his book of the same name defined it as: the ability to understand and use information in multiple formats from a wide range of sources when it is presented via computers. The concept of literacy goes beyond simply being able to read; it has always meant the ability to read with meaning, and to understand. It is the fundamental act of cognition. Based on our review of theory we established the following definition of digital literacy in primary school contexts: Digital literacy in primary schools involves students and teachers using digital technology to enable, sustain and enrich all aspects of the inquiry cycle of learning as: ask, investigate, create, discuss and reflect.

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