On Tech-Literacy

Tech literacy Photo by Charles Dyer

Several teachers (most recently Kate Nowak and Mylène) have touched on the subject of tech-literacy and wanted to add my voice in.

Digital Natives?

People refer to students as “digital natives” as if they were born with an innate mastery of computers and software. I fear that this admiration of kids’ technology skills is overstated.

Sure, students use a lot of technology, but that doesn’t mean they use it correctly or completely. Kids have an improvised tech-literacy in the same way my bright niece had an improvised ability to read before starting school. And we wouldn’t call her a “reading native” just because she grew up surrounded by books.

Random Gaps

Because students are self-taught, their tech-literacy has gaps, and those gaps are randomly distributed across your class. I watching bright 12-year-olds center text in a word processor by pressing the space bar until the words lined up. But a quick lesson on word processor skills quickly cleared up these basic gaps.

We cannot assume that our students have an expert level of tech-literacy. Spend some computer-lab time going over the basics. It’ll build a solid foundation for later projects and equip your class with truly practical skills.

General Computer Skills

  1. Moving, copying, deleting, and renaming files
  2. Organizing files within folders
  3. Finding files and applications that aren’t on the desktop
  4. Coping and pasting text
  5. Right clicking (or control clicking on a Mac)
  6. Keyboard shortcuts for (these examples are PC then Mac):
    • copying and pasting (Ctrl-V/Ctrl-C or ⌘C/⌘V)
    • saving and opening files (Ctrl-S/Ctrl-O or ⌘S/⌘O)
    • printing (Ctrl-P or ⌘P)
    • restarting after freeze-ups (Alt-Ctrl-Del or ⌘-Opt-Esc)
    • switching applications (Alt-Tab or ⌘-Tab)

Word Processing

  1. Bold, italic, underline text
  2. Change fonts and font-sizes.
  3. Left, right, and center justification.
  4. Adjusting for line-spacing
  5. Using built-in bullets and outlines
  6. Inserting and manipulating a table
  7. Keyboard shortcuts for these basic tools

After those basics, I’d move on to spreadsheets, presentation software, and search skills.

Have you seen any other basic technology skills that students lack? Let me know at ian@byrdseed.com or @ByrdseedGifted.