The rise of digital technology, social media, and widespread accessibility to the Internet play a huge role in the ways today’s K-12 students are learning outside of the classroom (Hobbs, 2010). As such, there exists a narrative for revamping the current curricula in formal education to accommodate the inevitable need for digital literacy in a technologically-permeated society (Carrington & Marsh, 2008). If models of formal education cannot adapt to incorporate digital literacy, the technology-savvy students who are “always on and connected” may be forced to “power down” in the classroom, thus becoming counter-productive to the modern educational goals (Hartley, et al, 2008). The research questions being presented in this proposal would allow researchers to investigate the relationship between digital literacy and the current components of formal education in the state of Alaska in order to fill current gaps in information and to possibly inform practice in rural areas.
What strategies and models for implementing digital literacy in K-12 classrooms currently exist in Alaska?
Educators are limited in the number of models they have for effective integration of media in their teaching, and at the moment, there is only limited research available to guide the best practice (Bull, et al, 2008). By asking the question of what models currently exist in Alaskan classrooms, we delve deeper into and extend the overall conversation about integrating digital literacy in formal education. From this exploration, two things could happen: 1) new techniques or models that have not yet been researched will be revealed and shared for other school districts to adopt, or 2) outdated or ineffective models will be exposed, thus inspiring change in current practices.
How do current Alaskan educator support systems (e.g. teacher education programs) include training in areas of digital technology?
Most research in the field of digital literacy recognizes that in order educators to help students become digitally literate, they must first understand the significance and functionality of new media themselves (Hobbs & Jensen, 2009). This is a widely-accepted call to action among educational researchers. However, the majority of case studies that have been conducted to study digital literacy in K-12 education were done so in the Lower 48. While this research question is not necessarily a new one, it does examine different participants in a very different research site. By examining educator support systems in Alaska, it could add valuable knowledge by bringing to light issues of accessibility to technology, lack of stable Internet, and lack of proper training.
What challenges exist in providing digital literacy education to rural Alaskan educators and students?
Scholar Renee Hobbs’ (2010) argues that today’s students must become life-long learners of evolving technology in order to gain critical personal, professional, and social skills in a booming digital age. However, in Alaska one must consider number of rural villages and secluded populations where students and educators face issues that may deter them from the ability to adopt digital literacy practices. By asking the question about educational challenges faced by rural Alaskans, we are opening up the discussion and giving them a voice in the overall digital literacy narrative and possibly finding ways to fix these issues.
While more and more scholars are beginning to recognize the significance of incorporating new media in the formal classroom, there is still a lack of research proving its effectiveness. By asking these questions, we will be furthering the overall discussion by examining the current state of digital literacy in Alaska. We are also opening the doors to schools and educators (both in Alaska and nationwide) by informing them of existing models and giving them the tools they may need to develop new models and approaches.
Bull, G., Thompson, A., Searson, M., Garofalo, J., Park, J., Young, C., & Lee, J. (2008). Connecting informal and formal learning experiences in the age of participatory media. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teach Education, 8(2), Retrieved from http://www.citejournal.org/vol8/iss2/editorial/article1.cfm
Carrington, V., & Marsh, J. UK Department for Children, Schools and Families, (2008). Forms of literacy. Retrieved from Beyond Current Horizons website: http://www.beyondcurrenthorizons.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/ch3_final_carringtonmarsh_formsofliteracy_20081218.pdf
Hartley, J. (2009). Repurposing literacy. In The Uses of Digital Literacy (pp. 17-38). London: Transaction Publishers.
Hobbs, R. (2010, November). Digital and media literacy: A plan of action. The Aspen Institute
Communications and Society Program, Washington, D.C.: The Aspen Institute. Retrieved from http://aaablogs.uoregon.edu/artsustainablesociety/files/2010/11/Digital_and_
Hobbs, R., & Jensen, A. (2009). The past, present, and future of media literacy education. Journal of Media Literacy Education, 1, 1-11. Retrieved from http://altechconsultants.netfirms.com/jmle1/index.php/JMLE/article/viewFile/35/1