- To be a learner today, you have to be a digital learner. You need to know how to be an effective and literate consumer and contributor of information in digital spaces.
- Our students spend much of their lives in digital spaces. You too are a citizen of the digital world. You work, play, learn, are entertained, communicate, do business, watch, write, socialise in digital spaces. You owe it to yourself to be informed about how to do this safely, productively and ethically. And then you can model this for your students.
- You are a lifelong learner, with readily available access to information thanks to the ubiquity of mobile devices. You need to know how to find and use information easily. You need to know how to create and share information easily and ethically. You need to do this with, and alongside your students, so they see you as a teacher and a co-learner. And you need to see your students as fellow teachers also.
- You need to connect and collaborate with other educators. They help you keep informed, they help you learn, they inspire, challenge and support your work. Build and nurture a Professional Learning Network that helps you to be the best educator you can be.
- You help create the digital learning environment. Sharing your interactions and collaborations, your insights and reflections openly online contributes to our profession as a whole. Sharing our collective wisdom and experience can only make us all better.
The ubiquity of mobile devices allows us to think about learning beyond the four walls of the classroom, beyond the school grounds, beyond school hours. Teachers are no longer the keepers of knowledge/ sages on the stage. Our role is to walk alongside our students, guiding, mentoring and facilitating their learning in ways that are more authentic and meaningful to them. I think the graphic below beautifully illustrates what learning looks like:
image from thegoodcoach.com
We may set the finish line/learning goal for students, or they may set it for themselves. As educators, we can put “guardrails” in place to help students plan for and progress towards learning goals, but it is the students themselves who will do the learning. Each student will hopefully come across challenges or obstacles as (s)he heads to the finish line, and this is often where real learning takes place through problem-solving, learning from mistakes and perseverance. Sometimes, their teacher will help them through the obstacle with a well-placed question, or learning scaffold; sometimes it will be their peers; sometimes the help will come from digital content or spaces.
As digital learners, students need to know when digital content will be the best tool for them to use to support their learning. They need to know how to find and use this content effectively and ethically to inform their learning, and they need to know how to produce products of their learning that they can feed back into the digital learning environment. As teachers of these learners, we need to have the skillset to be able to help them do this; which comes from continued learning and experiences in digital spaces ourselves.