Academic journal article Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin

Online Literacy Applications Promoting Creativity and Collaboration

Academic journal article Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin

Online Literacy Applications Promoting Creativity and Collaboration

Article excerpt

However, the tools are used primarily for the transmission of information, with fewer teachers using technology to promote students' creativity and collaborative projects. Fewer than 40% of the respondents reported having students develop, share, or post work on a Web site, wiki, or blog; participate in online discussions; use collaborative Web-based tools (e.g., GoogleDocs) for editing or revising their own or others' work; or posting work for others (Purcell et al., 2013). Similar results were reported in the Gates Foundation survey (2015), in which teachers stated that they used digital tools primarily for delivering instruction directly to students (9.98 hours per week) as compared to 6.49 hours per week for independent practice of skills or 6.01 hours per week for student collaboration and interactive experiences. These surveys documented that teachers appear to be using digital tools on a frequent basis; however, they do so more often for delivery of information rather than for encouraging students' creativity or collaboration.

Rationale

As a faculty member in a teacherpreparation program, a major focus of mine for the 2015-2016 academic year was to incorporate more technology into my upper level education courses, specifically instructional tools that the preservice teachers (PSTs) could use for student learning rather than direct delivery of instruction. This focus developed as the result of several factors. First, during my classroom observations, I had noticed that an increasing number of teachers in field placements either had technology available in their classrooms but were not using it or were in the process of integrating more technology into their instruction. As a result, I believed I needed to expose the PSTs to technology applications that would prove beneficial in field experiences as well as in their future practice. This, in turn, meant that I would need to educate myself on setting up the sites, adding members to the sites, and creating assignments that were appropriate uses for the sites.

Second, the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects (National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers (NGA & CCSSO; 2012) include College and Career Ready Anchor Writing Standard 6 related to students' use of technology in their writing:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.

CCRA.W.6

Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

This standard is spelled out in more detail for English Language Arts (e.g., Grades 9 and 10) and History, Science, and Technical subjects (e.g., Grades 6-8).

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.6

Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology's capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.6

Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas clearly and efficiently.

In addition, PSTs and their students should be developing skills identified as necessary for success in the twenty-first century: creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration (Partnership for 21st Century Learning, 2015).

Selection Process

The online literacy applications I selected for use in my courses were either free, free for a trial period, or purchased for an annual fee. I chose them because they provide the users with authentic purposes for reading, writing, speaking, and visually representing. The applications also allow their users to collaborate and view each other's contributions, within safe, secure, digital environments. In addition, some provide students and teachers with feedback related to students' understanding of content. …

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