Dr. Sharon Smaldino

Sharon Smaldino

by Sharon Smaldino

As part of the 21st Century Partnership (www.21stcenturyskills.org/index.php) with a number of states, there is an emphasis on ensuring that students have learning opportunities that prepare them for their futures. Media literacy is one topic area within the suggested curricular areas and it is evolving as technologies related to social media and mobile technologies advance. Both teacher education and K-12 schools need to address these new literacy skills within learning situations. In order to harness the potential benefits from social media and mobile technologies, educators need to help students develop new media literacy skills that span across reading, writing, research, technology, critical analysis, and interactions with other participants.

Beyond the matter of core subject content is the ability for K-12 students to become literate in the ways of gathering information, interpreting the data, and engaging in communication with a variety of audiences. Theses students are encouraged to seek a variety of sources for their information, reaching beyond the traditional resources and seeking information across a vast array of experts. The need for clear and competent communication is critical for them. Further, a work-ethic that fosters interest in working collaboratively with teams of peers and experts expands the opportunities for learning. And, finally that students need to become reflective about their learning process to understand better how academic knowledge is a related component to future career choices.

Educators not literate in use of new technologies
Creative Commons License photo credit: dougbelshaw

K-12 students need guidance and to become aware of their collective responsibility within online learning communities that they take a role. Without a systematic approach for addressing these new media literacy skills, many schools across the nation view that student participation in social media sites and cell phone use are distractions or in some cases harmful to formal school activities. However, there are an increasing number of schools that have embraced these technologies for their potential benefits and purposefully began using these technologies for educational purposes.

Teacher education programs need to embrace a philosophy that encourages their candidates to think beyond the limits of the current resource sets and into the new generation of technologies that embody social networking tools, such as the new mobile resources. The challenge is to find ways to not only model the use of these tools, but to find ways to address reluctance on the part of schools to include them. Clearly, there is a need to move outside the traditional approach to teaching technology integration courses and into the new century’s view of media literacy. It may be time to shift our perspectives on how IT faculty fit into teacher education and advocate for a more integrated approach within the curriculum. It may be time to no longer offer the “course” but rather as faculty, to become a member of the instructional team for teacher education coursework.

About the Author: Dr. Sharon E. Smaldino holds the L.D. and Ruth G. Morgridge Endowed Chair for Teacher Education in the College of Education at Northern Illinois University (NIU). She was a professor of Educational Technology at the University of Northern Iowa for many years prior to moving to NIU. In her current role, she is focused on working with faculty and P-12 teachers to integrate technology into the learning process. Dr. Smaldino has served as president of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) and on the board of directors for the International Visual Literacy Association. She is currently serving as the editor of TechTrends, an AECT publication.