Kids in the Cloud
In addition to training workshops, we have developed a series of manuals for facilitators at primary schools. Similar to learning to read and write, children should also learn how to use the computer as a tool – preferably from Grade 0 or Grade 1. By the time learners reach Grade 7, they should be fully competent in managing their own digital devices, word processing, spread sheets, presenting with slides, conducting research, referencing, and more. This so that – when in high school/university – they can focus on what they would like to specialise in, using a digital device merely as a tool. Effective computer and Internet use should never become a barrier on the way to successful learning and lifelong self-learning.
The set of 7 Media, Information and Computer Literacy Skills (incl. Digital Citizenry) manuals were developed to bridge the digital divide that exists among learners in one country, as well as among learners from developing countries in contrast with the so called developed countries. At the same time, these manuals were developed keeping facilitators and learners with different skills levels in mind. It fills an important gap in the market, and provides guidance to schools who realize the importance of teaching this subject. The manuals were compiled in a simple and straight forward manner, with minimal knowledge and preparation required from the facilitator who will be teaching this subject. Learners from grade 1 up to grade 7 are introduced to the following:
- Accessing, analyzing, and critically evaluating information from a wide spectrum, in a responsible way;
- Using information obtained effectively and in a responsible way; and
- Communicating (publishing and sharing) information in an effective and responsible manner.
In the end, through Media (incl. Digital Citizenry, Information and Computer) Literacy, learners are taught how to become critical thinkers, problem solvers, effective communicators, and active citizens of any country – also to advance the principles of a democratic society. Although being taught as a separate subject, it is embedded in all other school subjects. Cross-curricular topics addressed includes – amongst many other topics – environmental learning, HIV/AIDS, population education, education for human rights and democracy, information and communication technology and road safety.
A Learner-Centered Education (LCE) approach is followed: learners learn with understanding, and their new knowledge, skills and attitudes contribute to the development of a better and just society. The manuals are based on the principle that learners learn best when actively involved in the learning process through a high degree of participation, contribution and production. Activities require hands-on involvement by learners, applying newly acquired skills within the digital environment, using software such as the Microsoft OfficeTM Suite of products (word processing, presentations, spread sheets, drawing and painting, publishing and more), and a variety of online social networking tools (blogs, web pages, e-mail and more).
The manuals try to achieve the following:
- Instill a curiosity within learners to find out more about a topic and to research and read more, thereby becoming lifelong learners. Through this it tries to encourage developing inquiring and thinking minds.
- Encourage children to ask questions, and to try finding answers. Learners are made aware of the fact that – in life – they will constantly encounter problems (questions), and that the problems can be solved through researching and finding information. Learners learn to question information that was found, and whether it addresses the problem.
- Equip learners with skills to locate, evaluate and use information in a responsible way.
- Equip learners with skills to create and communicate information, using computer skills. This includes publishing information on the Internet.
- Reinforce learners’ understanding and learning through hands-on media making and sharing.
The above also applies to facilitators. Not only will learners acquire new skills, but facilitators will learn along with learners. The ideal would be for teachers to – in the end – also develop their own lessons, and to stay current on new technologies and update information as it becomes available – thereby becoming independent which is a far more sustainable approach. One way of support would be to join the Facebook page as well as the mailing list for the community that will be using the manuals – free of charge. This approach tries to enable teachers towards becoming lifelong independent learners themselves.
The manuals were designed with keeping the framework of the NIED Information and Communication Syllabus Grades 4 – 7 and the UNESCO Media and Information Literacy Curriculum for Teachers (2011) in mind. According to the Media and Information Literacy Curriculum for Teachers (2011) this approach to Media (incl. Digital Citizenry, Information and Computer) Literacy, is forward looking, drawing on present trends towards the convergence of radio, television, Internet, newspapers, books, digital archives and libraries into one platform – thereby, for the first time, presenting Media (incl. Digital Citizenry, Information and Computer) Literacy in a holistic manner.
Schools interested in implementing this subject as part of the primary school curriculum, can contact the distributor (please refer to contact details). Manuals are made available in sets of 7 (1 manual for each grade). Once purchased, the manuals can be used freely within the designated school, and duplicated for the purpose of teaching learners and facilitators for the school to which the license has been granted. Should a manual be lost, or get worn out, a new manual can be copied by the school at minimal cost, which is a far more affordable option than having to purchase new text books. The license is granted on purchasing a set.
Both the authors & directors bring a wealth of knowledge and in total 38 years of experience in education, information, computer application and training to the table, and are passionate about this subject. The forerunner of this set of manuals – Computer Literate with Fairrek by Anna Viljoen – was and is still used by 75+ schools. Through the new version, incorporating media and information literacy together with computer literacy, each and every citizen will learn to play an active role in his/her community, and become lifelong active citizens.