While Canadian educators believe that digital technologies can enrich students’ learning, there are still significant challenges to overcome in making this happen – with one of the main barriers being students’ lack of digital literacy skills. And school filters and policies that ban or restrict networked devices in the classroom take away the very opportunities young people need to develop digital literacy skills such as good judgment and responsible use.
These are among the findings in Young Canadians in a Wired World, Phase III: Teachers’ Perspectives – a new report from Media Awareness Network (MNet). In the study, MNet spoke with key informants from across the country to better understand how digital technologies are being integrated into classrooms, how they enhance learning, and what the impact on the teacher-student relationship is.
“This study makes it clear that young Canadians need to learn digital literacy and digital citizenship in their schools, and that teachers need to be provided with the tools, support and learning opportunities to be able to teach them those skills”, said Cathy Wing, MNet’s Co-Executive Director.
While they are enthusiastic about bringing networked technologies into the classroom, the teachers raised concerns about how personal devices such as smart phones can complicate the learning experience and negatively impact the teacher-student relationship. When interactions that take place in a classroom are uploaded into the wider public sphere, it makes it difficult to build an atmosphere of trust where students feel safe – which is essential to the learning process.