Reinventing Critical Digital Literacy to Empower Student-Teachers in Cross-Cultural, Web-Based Learning Environments

Reinventing Critical Digital Literacy to Empower Student-Teachers in Cross-Cultural, Web-Based Learning Environments

César Augusto Rossatto (University of Texas at El Paso, USA) and Maria Elena Rosario (Sharo) G. Dickerson (University of Texas at El Paso, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8286-1.ch008

Abstract

In the U.S. and Mexico borderland, the cross-cultural relationship is a daily experience. The ever-growing online learning and the digital literacy diminishes the distances and differences. The goals of advanced technology use are to empower each community member to meet the challenges of our current digital divide era. The authors seek to examine this further by posing the following questions: How can technology assist borderland communities and transnational population to think critically about their reality in an ongoing globalizing world? How can technology facilitate critical dialogue for collective empowerment? How can technology create a contextualized learning environment that fosters meaningful connections of real-life experiences as an integral component of culturally responsive pedagogy? To address these questions, they present and discuss qualitative and quantitative methodological findings, illustrating learning experiences, that exemplify and demonstrate how culturally inclusive and relevant educational programs work with adult students.
Chapter Preview
Top

Introduction

Technology has empowered the world to connect seamlessly by making communication and information readily available as it occurs instantly. People come together virtually and can collaborate and support each other in a multifaceted digital environment to construct meaningful knowledge. However, technology is first and foremost a tool that requires critical thinking and digital literacy to discern facts, science, and evidence vis-a-vis myths, beliefs, and unfounded opinions. We argue that a critical thinking that question reality will assist students to assert themselves and develop a sense of self-determination and identity as they understand the political underpinnings and its ideological forces that affect their lives. Technology with critical digital literacy will provide much needed understanding and wider knowledge of global issues about students’ social class, gender, and racial politics to prevent working against themselves and support oppressing practices, i.e. as Malcolm X would say “If you're not careful, [social media] will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” In other words, technology had been used as an instrument of corporate control, with biases and underhanded hidden agendas. Thus, this study seeks to re-invent critical digital literacy to empower adult learners/student-teachers in a cross-cultural web-based learning environment.

In this context, what is questionable among the new digital generation is their ability to construct knowledge in a meaningful and effective way that is beyond regurgitating information obtained from the Internet. Can digital education be developed in such a way where students can connect in a genuine manner? Thus, this book chapter examines experiences collected from interactions with graduate and adult students from higher education and public-school practitioners, who have participated and been immersed in a Web-Based Learning Environment (WBLE), directly and indirectly, in real or imagined ways. The subjectivities constructed results in a third space conceptualization, which leaves an imprint sense of identity on students’ minds, images, movies/video clips, online books, songs/music, character portrayals become a form of public curriculum. Digital media with its devices and online content provided through biased corporate educational systems “disneysize” students in a detrimental and problematic way (Giroux, 2000).

Hence, to expand on these understandings, this study explores the following research questions: How can technology assist borderland communities and transnational population to re-think critically about their reality in an ongoing globalizing world? How is the new digital generation producing and retaining knowledge? How can technology facilitate critical dialogue for collective empowerment? How can technology create a contextualized learning environment that fosters meaningful connections of real-life experiences as an integral component of culturally responsive pedagogy? To answer these questions, we used mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative) that focuses on adult learning experiences as part of an inclusive and culturally responsive curricular and pedagogical practices.

We study critical discourses of adult learners; the impact and challenges of cross-cultural learning experiences in a traditional environment; the significance of cultural relevance and pedagogy in adult students’ concepts of learning; the essential role of the online educator in providing critical thinking and developing cultural relevance in learning; the perception of adult learners in their working relationship with the online professor; the culturally inclusive assessments for adult students; and the motivating factors that responds to the adult learners’ culture.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Transnational: Immigrants or border crossers.

Neo-Colonization: A system that results to creating bigger gaps between the rich and the poor of the world through negative effects of globalization and cultural imperialism.

Internalize: To accept or absorb attitudes or behaviors so that it becomes an inherent part of one’s character and nature.

Colonizer/s: An individual or group of people who settle in another area or land as colonists, with the goal or objective of changing the existing community into a colony.

Bias: Incline towards or be prejudice in favor of or against an individual, an event, other’s points of view, etc. that may be deemed unfair and unjust.

Technology Empowerment: Using technology-based learning to enhance pedagogy, student empowerment, and student engagement.

Digital Environments: Integrated environments where digital tools and devices are used to facilitate communication and collaboration (i.e., learning management system [LMS] such as Blackboard, Schoology, Canvas, etc.).

Oppressed: Refers to a person or group of individuals who are treated unjustly and with cruelty; and subjected to harsh and authoritative treatment.

Oppressor: Refers to a person or group of individuals who treat/s others unjustly and with cruelty that prevents others from having opportunities and freedom.

Student-Teachers: Participants of the study.

Web-Based Learning Environments: A type of learning environment that uses online and web-based systems to create learning spaces for students to learn and receive content.

Critical Pedagogy: A teaching approach inspired by critical theory, radical and other social movement philosophies that attempts to help learners to question and challenge beliefs and practices that promotes domination, segregation, and inequality among races, color, ethnicities, beliefs, political positions, and principles.

“Googling It”: A technology-based slang referring to search and find information using the Google search engine.

Scaffolding: An instructional method that provides different techniques to support students’ progress that will lead to stronger understanding and greater independence in their learning progress.

Marginalized: An action that treats an individual or a person as insignificant, powerless, or unimportant.

Pedagogical Practices: Interactions and learning activities that support the delivery of content, such as using the constructivist model, active learning, student-centered activities, supporting multiple student learning styles, etc.

Critical Discourse: A critical approach to the study of discussions, reflections, conversations, thoughts, and ideas, etc., from a socio-political consciousness and points of view.

Global Perspectives: Individual views on matters and situations that relate to the rest of the world.

Whiteness: White supremacy and hegemony.

Active Learning Best Practices: Active learning is a form of learning that includes researched-based procedures such as multiple assessments, reflective feedback, collaboration, communication, culture, ethics, critical analysis, goal setting, student autonomy, problem-solving, creativity, reflection, growth mindset, learning relevance, and authenticity.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset