Public Support for Teaching Digital Skills

Here is an article that I got from the NCTE Inbox newsletter that you might be able to use as you plan for curriculum revisions. Although it relies on the globalization fear as its basis, the survey shows that 2/3 of voters want these skills taught now.

eSchool News online – Voters urge teaching of 21st-century skills

October 15, 2007—In yet another sign that momentum is building for the teaching of so-called “21st-century skills” in the nation’s classrooms, results of a new poll indicate that voters overwhelmingly agree: The skills students need to succeed in the workplace of today are notably different from what they needed 20 years ago.

Certainly, there is more than a “swing in the pendulum” from “back to basics” mode, as the survey’s author says. I would suggest that we are still seeing the need for “back to basics,” as represented in our continued focus on assessment in this country. However, I think that people are realizing that digital literacies are becoming more and more an essential part of these basics.

Just as we expect our students to know how and when to use a calculator to supplement their basic math skills, I think that we now can say, without a doubt, that a computer — and the word processor, internet access, and presentation tools that are a part of using a computer — are fundamental to our literacy processes, too.

Both my pre-service teachers and composition students have been reading and writing about multiliteracy types of issues in the past few weeks and they are starting to see the connections between being a writer and being a writer in a digital age. Statistics such as the ones reported in the survey are nice to have, as they can help me make the argument for why and how I am teaching, even if I would prefer to think about how we can use these tools to collaborate, not just compete.

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Author: Troy Hicks

Dr. Troy Hicks is a professor of English and education at Central Michigan University. He directs both the Chippewa River Writing Project and the Master of Arts in Educational Technology degree program. A former middle school teacher, Dr. Hicks has authored numerous books, articles, chapters, blog posts, and other resources broadly related to the teaching of literacy in our digital age. Follow him on Twitter: @hickstro

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