Developing Digital Literacies. #3: have a specialist

Having been challenged by Steve Wheeler that maybe primary schools do have a role to play in digital literacy, I’m now thinking about what we actually do at my school to encourage, or even teach digital literacy.

3. Have a specialist.

During my first module on the Mathematics Specialist Teacher programme (MAST) at Edge Hill university I learned some of the things that drove the need to have some maths specialists in primary schools. Firstly there is a prevailing attitude in the UK that it is OK to be be bad at maths. Secondly many primary teachers do not have more than a GCSE grade C in maths. What they were saying was that each school needs to have someone on the team to be both an advocate for maths and a developer of teachers, so that maths teaching is improved.

Surely it is the same for IT (sorry – computing) specialists?

Does every school expect all its staff to be experts in digital literacy? What about just being interested in digital literacy? Or as I posted previously, do all teachers yearn to be digitally literate? Maybe a starting point is for every school to have one person interested in this area.

Certainly it helps to have a digitally literate member of the leadership team. I have spoken to many headteachers who are fearful of Facebook and other social media because of the potential damage it can cause. They hear scare stories about professionals who have brought their organisation into disrepute by misusing Facebook, like this one, and their first response is to lock it down – have nothing to do with it – if it doesn’t come into school, it can’t get us.

This is where the specialist comes in. A specialist can convince the rest of the team that digital stuff can be used positively. They can make the team more productive and more effective. That person can quell the fears and quash the myths that build up around social media. They can be advocate and developer.

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