Digital literacy in higher education: the rhetoric and the reality [...]

This chapter examines empirical data to address the rhetoric of the digital native as a competent and digitally literate learner. The chapter also questions the reality of the notion that a digital delivery platform is easy to navigate and facilitates positive learning experiences. Data from surveys of students studying both on-campus and via distance education (or online) at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ), a regional Australian university, provides useful insights into the literacies of digital natives and will help to debunk the myth about digital learning being quick and easy. The findings indicate that most distance education students identified concerns about how technology supported their learning and were frustrated by information and communication technology (ICT) issues. For example, while those classified as digital natives did display high levels of digital literacy, this result was not confined to a particular age group. Interestingly, the students in this sample who could be classified as 'digital natives' (under 30 years of age) did not prefer the distance or online mode of study; they preferred to study on-campus (60%). In contrast, the 'digital immigrants' (those over 30 years of age) preferred the distance/online mode of study (57%). Both groups showed a high degree of experience with, and confidence in, their ability to engage with the various digital technologies. Evidence presented in this chapter will help universities to put in place appropriate and timely interventions to enable students to develop and apply digital literacies to support their learning. Specifically, guidelines for educators on how best to embed digital literacies into an online pedagogy, and recommendations for establishing effective learning management systems to support online education, are provided. (Source)

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