Rethinking Digital Literacy for Teachers in Open and Participatory Societies

Rethinking Digital Literacy for Teachers in Open and Participatory Societies

Fabio Nascimbeni (Universidad Internacional de la Rioja, La Rioja, Spain)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/IJDLDC.2018070101


This article argues that models for the integration of ICT in teacher training should be based on a holistic understanding of digital literacy that considers the ongoing change in knowledge production, management and consumptions connected with the generalised rise of open and participatory societies. In order to understand how this could be done, the article analyses a few digital literacy frameworks, including the recent DigCompEdu framework by the European Commission, looking for the space given to competencies related to openness and collaboration, and proposes some reflections on how critical competences could be included in contemporary digital literacy frameworks for teachers. The article concludes that more should be done by teacher training initiatives to transform educators into critically literate actors able to participate competently in digital practices but also to transform these practices into an active, inclusive and open way.
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The Importance of Teachers Training in Digital, Open and Participatory Societies

We are increasingly immersed in an open and participatory culture (Jenkins et al., 2006), this being true for both offline and online practices, which are increasingly interrelated (Wright et al., 2014), even if it is in the online world where the highest potential for open and participatory dynamics exists (Boyd, 2014). Informal and peer-to-peer learning, innovative attitudes toward intellectual property, differentiation and mixing of cultural expressions and a more proactive conception of citizenship are among the potential benefits of these emerging open and participatory dynamics. Still, to fully enjoy these benefits, three main challenges need to be overcome. First, unequal participation. Even if the percentage of online population steadily increases, access is distributed unequally among citizens - globally, as well as within countries, regions, communities (Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, 2017) and among those who participate, just a few are really able to influence online debates, while the vast majority just follows. Second, low media literacy. This is grounded on the difficulty to clearly understand the ways in which media shape our perceptions of the world and on the urgency to separate fact from fake news. Last but not least, ethical issues. Citizens should possess the capacity to reflect about the ethical choices they make in online settings and about the impact that their behaviour can have on themselves as well as on others (Alexander, Adams Becker, Cummins, & Hall Giesinger, 2017).

To address these challenges, it is compulsory to rethink the competencies that must be at the core of contemporary learning experiences, from pre-school to continuing education. For this to happen, teachers must be empowered with an appropriate set of technical and sociocultural competencies tailored to the new open and participatory settings they are teaching – and living - in.

The present paper wants to contribute to critically identifying which competencies are needed for contemporary teachers and to understanding whether existing digital literacy frameworks are fitted to equip teachers with those competencies needed to both educate learners and to act as living examples of citizens of open and participatory societies. Starting with a brief analysis of the concept of digital literacy, we have analysed two important digital competencies frameworks and a rather new teachers digital competencies framework, looking for the way they consider and accommodate open and collaborative competences. Based on this analysis, we sketched and discussed a few competences that should be urgently included in any capacity building effort aiming at building teachers’ digital literacy.

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