[AAACE-NLA] The Need for Digital Literacy in Adult Literacy Education
DJRosen at theworld.com
Fri Feb 26 08:44:16 EST 2010
On Feb 22, 2010, Tom Sticht wrote:
> David and all: I'm wondering how many adult learners in the Adult
> and Learning System (AELS) have come to classes to learn digital
> because they were denied employment because of their lack of digital
> literacy. Are there data on this of which you are aware?
Tom, the NRS does not currently collect this kind of data, although it
would be great if it did, and that's the public policy advocacy piece
of this reply! I know of no systematic collection of this data now.
> Do you know of particular jobs that have particular requirements for
> the use
> of digital tools that adults should learn about in the AELS? For
> example, I
> imagine that working in one of the ubiquitous Verizon, AT&T, etc.
> stores found in many shopping malls would require knowledge of a
> range of
> cell phones, etc. But maybe emplorees don't need to use spreadsheets
> Excel, etc.) I don't know what their educational requirements are in
> stores, maybe they require a college degree for all I know, in which
> any employees they hire would probably have already learned about
> tools from friends and self-study.
The specific digital tools change all the time. Last year's mobile
phone is out of date. The key, as I am sure you know, to getting and
keping jobs that rely on knowledge
of technology is the ability to learn new technologies quickly and
well. My point, however, was not that we should be training adult
learners for technology jobs, but that we should
be providing them with digital literacy (general comfort and
competence in using technology) for example, for: basic word
processing; email; basic information searching; technology etiquette,
and responsibilities; getting and submitting government information
needed as a citizen or resident; and for continued learning online.
> Any idea about the numbers of adult learners who might want to learn
> a full
> range of digital tools in the AELS?
No, but all the anecdotal evidence indicates it's rising as more
younger people enter the AELS.
I am glad you described this as "the full range of digital tools" ,
not just computers. Adult learners may more commonly own web
accessible handheld telephones and other mobile phones. Some teachers
their students to bring their "cellphones" to class and to turn them
_on_. Then, using a functional context education or a participatory
approach they ask questions like "What can you do with your cellphone
now?" What else is it possible to do with your cellphone? Who knows
how to do that and can explain it to us? From these articulated needs
instruction emerges. The students already have the technology in their
hand to practice this new instruction. This can also be a "situated
learning" model in which, in a group of people, some know more than
others, and are wiling to share that knowledge or those skills. It's
also a good opportunity for a teacher paradigm shift from "sage on the
stage" to co-learner. Often students know more about cellphones than
their teachers. A teacher who acknowledges that will learn a lot!
David J. Rosen
DJRosen at theworld.com
> Tom Sticht
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