Caregivers and educators often assume children are digitally literate because they are constantly using their devices. This assumption often doesn’t hold true, says Dr. Kendall Latham, Dell Technologies Senior K-12 Education Strategist. The overnight shift to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic showcased the reality that many students, caregivers and educators struggled to navigate the web and effectively evaluate online sources.
This realization led to the creation of the GetDigitalSkills.org project as part of Dell’s overarching Digital Inclusion for Education undertaking. The project is a partnership between Dell Technologies and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). Both organizations recognized the need to improve digital literacy in schools and for the general population. They developed a digital skills literacy framework based on work already done by ISTE in this area as well as by several other well-regarded organizations. The framework sets out three overarching digital literacy skill areas: navigation, consumption, creation and communication. Within these areas there are six specific subskills they believe everyone should have.
With this framework in mind, the organizations developed online questionnaires for individuals to self-asses their digital literacy skills and provide just-in-time resources to support each of the six areas. Questionnaires are available for children, educators and caregivers.
Upon completion of the questionnaires, resources for self-study are recommended depending on the answers given. Below is an excerpt with suggested resources for educators on how to locate content.
Uptake of the resource has been strong across North America according to Dr. Latham, Dell project lead. Some school districts have had most of their students and educators assess themselves. Districts then began asking for overviews of how various grade bands in their jurisdiction performed. This recently led to the second phase of the initiative.
Phase II – Data Dashboard
For this phase, Dell engaged the services of BrightBytes to develop a data analytics system and dashboard to display results. With this system districts are now able to obtain an at-a-glance look at how their students and educators are performing. This tool provides the information districts need to develop classroom digital literacy programs as well as professional learning programs for teachers. The following screenshot illustrates a sample view of the results. Districts are also able to export the results to a spreadsheet for further analysis.
A natural follow-up for districts once they see their digital literacy profile is to offer professional learning opportunities for their educators. Dell Technologies is committed to providing the professional learning needed for districts and communities to use the data meaningfully. Therefore, as part of the third phase, such programs are being developed.
Phase III – Professional Learning
Two kinds of professional learning programs will be available in June 2022. The first is the ISTE U course designed to provide educators with the opportunity to strengthen their digital literacy skills and engage in strategies to implement digital literacy skills programs across the curriculum. This course, which is open to an unlimited number of participants, is self-paced and includes content and opportunities for reflection and application.
The second is a Dell-sponsored ISTE certification program to be offered initially to two cohorts of 20 teachers in July and October 2022 to offer more going forward. This program consists of asynchronous and synchronous sessions for educators to explore the ISTE literacy standards in-depth and learn how to apply them to their specific settings. An attractive feature of this program is that participants can earn 4 graduate-level credits if desired.
There is no question that digital literacy skills are essential to participating fully in society today. GetDigitalSkills.org is a significant step forward in helping schools address the skills gap. The initiative provides tools for districts to not only assess the skills of students and educators but provides opportunities for educators to enhance their digital skills and develop relevant programs. Moreover, Dell is creating digital literacy modules for community organizations to use to support caregivers, which will complement the work being done in schools.
A challenge going forward will be for Dell Technologies and ISTE to ensure resources at the website are updated as new resources become available and as technologies change.
For more information about GetDigitalSkills.org or Dell’s broader Digital Inclusion for Education program contact:
Canadian Senior K-20 Education Strategist
Dell Technologies | Education Vertical Practice
Kendall Latham, Ph.D.
Senior K-12 Education Strategist
Digital Literacy Skills – Project Lead
Dell Technologies | Education Vertical Practice