Using technology should be an integral part of education in today’s classrooms, but it does come with its challenges. It can make the learning situation much more complex, yet educators recognize these difficulties and continue to work and prepare themselves to try and integrate technology successfully.
In the area of language arts, technology has changed the format and types of communication that people encounter which adds new challenges to language arts instruction. Literacy used to involve being able read and write and make meaning from the written word. With the ever-present and constantly changing internet, 21st Century literacy skills now include being proficient in media literacy, digital literacy, and information literacy (Roblyer, 2016, p. 261). Teachers must develop new instructional strategies to help students adapt to a more global means of communication. This means while teaching students how to read and write, we also must empower them to be able to analyze and critique the messages portrayed in images, language, and sound (Alliance for Media Literate America, 2001). We also have to teach them to recognize when information is needed and how to find, evaluate, utilize, share, and create content in an ethical manner even when guidelines and rules continue to change or are ambiguous (“What is digital literacy?”, 2009).
In order to deal with these new skills, teachers must include new strategies in Language Arts instruction. To advance reading and writing skills, teachers must teach students how to read not only written text, but also multimedia text. Using multimedia in instruction helps students decipher text that is nonlinear (Robyler, 2016, p. 263). Teaching about information literacy should not be isolated to one lesson, but should be an ongoing process. Students need to learn how to perform proper searches and evaluate information for reliability and credibility each time they seek out information. Finally, we cannot be afraid to allow students to interact socially. Instruction should allow students to share their work and encourage collaboration with their peers and with others on a more global scale.
It seems wonderful that there are policies in place that recognize the need for using technology in Language Arts instruction and Roblyer (2016) lists a lot of great strategies for addressing these needs, but let’s be honest, there is still one large issue that needs to be addressed—professional development. It’s hard to expect an educator to even know how to grow as a literacy professional and connected educator when they do not receive any type of quality, formal instruction. Many times school leadership does not provide this type of professional development so it is up to the educator to personally seek out their own professional learning through developing personal learning communities and communities of practice (Roblyer, 2016, p. 268). One would hope that an educator would realize the valuable knowledge gained and be motivated and have the ability to seek out these relationships and opportunities.
Alliance for Media Literate America. (2001). What is media literacy? AMLA’s short answer and longer thought. In Center for media literacy. Retrieved November 8, 2016, from http://www.medialit.org/reading-room/what-media-literacy-amlas-short-answer-and-longer-thought
Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching (7th ed., pp. 261-268). Upper Saddle River: Pearson.
What is digital literacy? (2009). In Cornell University Digital Literacy Resource. Retrieved November 8, 2016, from https://digitalliteracy.cornell.edu/welcome/dpl0000.html