First, let me warn you that this post is interactive. Yes, you have “homework” in the form of a poll at the bottom. Thanks in advance for getting through this chunky post!
This week I’ve been studying (even more intently than usual) an article titled “Digital mismatch: Expectations and realities of digital competency amongst pre-service education students” by Jennifer Duncan-Howell (2012). This article, published in the Australasian Journal of Educational Technology sharply spotlights three gaps in the Australian educational technology community, gaps that can be seen in the American system of higher education as well.
- Students, while proficient in the use of digital tools in their personal lives with applications such as Facebook and iCloud tools, actually have little experience in the integration of internet/application technology in their academic pursuits.
- Teachers and professors, while appearing technologically savvy by presenting traditional curriculum through a digital lens such as Prezi or Blackboard, actually aren’t far ahead of their students because they are either non-users, or, like their students, really only employ technologies for personal convenience. They have the tools, but don’t have the skills.
- Institutions of higher learning fail to address digital competence, “the confident and critical use of information and participation in society (from Ala-Mutka, Punie & Redecker, 2008, p.4), in their formal student outcomes; instead universities misinterpret digitizing their curriculums and other online learning mechanisms resulting in low digital competency outcomes.
The article also highlights the reality that students, whether they are fresh from high school or returning as adults, have a “digital expectation” that, through their studies at the university level, they will be more “digitally fluent” than when they entered. Thus, the DIGITAL MISMATCH can cause frustration, embarrassment, and even resentment in graduates that feel unprepared for the professional world.
Is the digital mismatch for real? You bet it is and I’m conflicted about whose responsibility it is to address it. A good place to start is with the formal addressing of digital outcomes at the highest levels of higher education (actually, I like that focus to filter all the way down to elementary). Then, there needs to be a real assessment of the professors who need to be integrating, sharing, teaching, and yes, even learning the skills that make up digital competency in the academic arena. In my doctoral program, I am proud to see and applaud my professors doing what it takes to be cutting edge. Finally, curriculum must be imbued with digital outcomes that go beyond the choice between PowerPoint or Prezi. Is this a new class? Do we dump these outcomes on the English teachers… yet again?
I think I have strong feelings about all of this, however, I’m going to let my thoughts and opinions marinate a bit more. In the meantime, would you please answer this poll and leave your thoughts in the comments?