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Digital Literacy in Primary Schools (DLIPS)

Casey, Leo, Bruce, Bertram C. , Martin, Allan, Reynolds, Abigail, Shiel, Gerry, Coffey, Laura, Brown, Clifford and Hallissy, Michael (2009) Digital Literacy in Primary Schools (DLIPS). Project Report. Centre for Research and Innovation in Learning and Teaching, National College of Ireland, Dublin.

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Digital literacy is an important and often misunderstood concept; it has implications for all aspects of primary schooling in Ireland. The purpose of this research is to establish a useful definition and conceptual framework through which the nature of digital literacy can be examined in terms of classroom practice and thereby related to the underpinning policy and support structures.
Our theoretical review points to two contrasting conceptual approaches to literacy and specifically, digital literacy. The traditional view is to regard digital literacy as a set of specific technical skills such as the ability to use software and to operate devices - this is often referred to as a skills model of literacy. In contrast, more recent and increasingly accepted theories conceive of digital literacy in terms of context and social practice - this is a situated approach to literacy.
The difference between the two theoretical orientations is important and has had significant implications for formulating our approach to this research and conceptual framework. Digital literacy, if defined solely in terms of skills, will be associated with individuals and will relate to capabilities and scores against pre-defined, generic competencies. On the other hand, a conceptual framework that adopts a situated approach involves an expanded view of literacy and emphasises the social contexts in which digital media are used.
One of the early decisions of the research team was to adopt the situated approach and therefore to locate the site of
investigation within the primary school classroom. Put simply, in our view the best way to investigate digital literacy was to describe the practices and activities that take place in the classroom. The starting point of the framework for digital literacy was to reference the practices and activities that take place in the classroom. Obviously, the goal of classroom activity is to bring about learning and as such,we grounded our digital literacy framework in a conception of learning centered on the Inquiry Cycle.
An overview of the Inquiry Cycle is provided in the main report. The report also demonstrates how the Inquiry Cycle
is appropriate for primary school contexts and is compatible with the Irish Primary School Curriculum. The Inquiry Cycle is a model of the learning process that emphasises five dimensions or categories as - ask, investigate, create, discuss and reflect. All of these overlap, and not every category or step is present in any given inquiry. Each step can be embedded in any of the others, and so on. In fact, the very nature of inquiry means that these steps are mutually reinforcing and interrelated. Together, they comprise a cycle that can be used to inform and guide educational experiences for learners.
Based on our review of theory we established the following definition of digital literacy in primary school contexts:

Digital literacy in primary schools involves pupils and teachers using digital technology to enable, sustain and enrich all aspects of the inquiry cycle of learning as: ask, investigate, create, discuss and reflect.

To facilitate data collection and analysis, a specific research instrument was devised - a Component Checklist used by observers to categorise classroom activities. This checklist was based on the five inquiry cycle categories (ask, investigate, create, communicate and reflect) and five other categories identified as significant – participation (depth), participation (scope), print literacy, media ecology and digital literacy. The intent was that this component checklist would also form the basis of the eventual digital literacy framework. The component checklist was subject to review and improvement at an early stage of the research process. The aim was to enable researchers to describe and compare classroom activities in terms of learning as inquiry and to provide additional data on pupil participation (in terms of depth and numbers),the integration of print literacy, the use of media and artefacts (media ecology) and finally digital literacy.

Item Type: Monograph (Project Report)
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1501 Primary Education
L Education > LC Special aspects / Types of education > Literacy
Divisions: Centre For Research and Innovation in Learning and Teaching Publications
Depositing User: Timothy Lawless
Date Deposited: 19 Mar 2014 18:05
Last Modified: 24 Mar 2014 11:23

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