Digital literacy refers to the skills required to confidently and safely engage in contemporary technology both through the use of devices and online environments. Technology and digital literacy are essential components of contemporary education needed to fully prepare today’s students for the world of 21st Century work, as digital devices and connectivity in the workplace are ubiquitous and universal. Therefore, enabling students to know how to use technology effectively to augment learning and how to be a good digital citizen is important.
The Waldorf school approach is outside the norm and heavily reported online as a unique vision. It is one that seems unusual at first exposure but with some thought makes sense. Young people are currently immersed in technology in all aspects of their lives. Experiencing offline activities, engaging in physical and hands on learning has shown results in other settings, with Gever Tully’s Tinkering School coming to mind. In this environment, young people are encouraged to use a design thinking approach to invent and create in a hands-on environment with significant results. Such a model aligns with the Waldorf philosophy.
In a comment following the Waldorf article, one respondent noted that the students are most likely plugged in within moments of leaving the classroom. As I write, I am in earshot of my two teenage children, one of whom is playing XBox online, the other happily snapchatting. Both are socially engaged through a digital device and would probably prefer it stayed that way for the rest of the evening! Even without an extended experience after hours, by the time they do a little research or online study, most teenagers will most certainly have used up the recommended screen time for the day around anything they may have experienced in the classroom.
Due to both overexposure and poor implementation, I have seen students react to the use of technology in classrooms and ask for offline activities. Overuse and subsequent overload are important factors that need our consideration when planning our learning activities. As Alan November (2013) describes, schools are often implementing the use of technology poorly; rather than augmenting opportunities to learn, the device is relied upon to somehow supply learning.
The questions that teachers need to answer in the planning process include, as Roblyer and Doering articulate, “what specific needs do my students and I have that (any given resources) can help meet?” (Roblyer & Doering, 2014, p. 20) and, “What is the best tool to produce the desired learning outcome?”
Technology may be one of the tools in a teacher’s repertoire but should not exist in isolation; diversity in the use of learning materials and tools is essential. Allowing a range of possibilities for learning and using technology in engaging, supplementary ways is necessary to inspire meaningful learning and sustain our students’ interest.

References

Dunn, J. (2011, 12 15). What If Schools Didn’t Use Any Technology? Retrieved from Edudemic: http://www.edudemic.com/waldorf-school-silicon-valley/

November, A. (2013, February 10). November Learning. Retrieved from http://novemberlearning.com/educational-resources-for-educators/teaching-and-learning-articles/why-schools-must-move-beyond-one-to-one-computing/

Roblyer, M., & Doering, A. (2014). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching 6th Edition. Harlow: Pearson Education.

Tulley, G. (n.d.). Tinkering School. Retrieved from http://www.tinkeringschool.com/