Why is digital literacy so important to today’s young learners?

Week 3: Technology curricula in Australia

Design and Technology and Digital Technology

Last week we looked at the essential nature of technology in everyday life. This week we will look the two different technological areas of Design and Technology and Digital Technology.

Living in a world of Design and Technology

Design and Technology are present behind every human made environment. If you live in a town or city, just walking down your street you will find yourself surrounded by spaces and buildings that were designed and built using multiple forms of technology. Design and Technology shapes what we wear; what we eat; the objects that we use to move us from place to place.

The technology that you see around you is the physical realisation of the concepts and ideas created in the design process. These are the solutions that have been made to meet our particular purposes and needs. It is this design process that we will be exploring more fully over this week.  In particular we will explore the relationship between Design and Technology, and how they need to be seen as inseparably interlinked ideas

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Let’s begin this week by watching the video What is design? produced by the UK Design Council (Lightweight Media, 2010). As you watch, think about this question: Why is it important to describe design as a verb?

Design Council: What is design? (2010)

What is Digital Literacy?

Watch this short video on the concept of Digital Literacy. Being literate essentially means being competent in the use of a particular set of knowledge and skills. As we will explore this week, being digitally literate has become an increasingly important part of participating in our society.

As you watch the video What is digital literacy? (ITFutures, 2014), consider these two questions:

  • Why is digital literacy so important to today’s young learners?
  • What has changed to make digital literacy so important?

What is digital literacy (2014)

The early decades of the 21st century have witnessed an incredible surge in interconnection and information sharing across the world, facilitated by advances in Internet and mobile technology. More people have access to more information than ever before, a trend that is predicted to grow exponentially into the foreseeable future. This wave of technological change has impacted all aspects of human existence; generating new ways of doing old tasks – the online learning that you are currently partaking in is just one somewhat obvious example.

As our lives become more and more intertwined with Digital Technology, access to the internet and information sharing has begun to be considered a basic right, similar to the way we think about access to food and water (United Nations General Assembly, 2011).

The impact on society resulting from these rapid technological changes has made learning about Digital Technology essential knowledge and skills. However, in order to fully participate in the future, younger learners require not only technical knowledge, but key transferable skills that make them adaptive to the changing future. This also necessitates that students develop critical reflective skills that help their awareness of the consequences of Digital Technology, empowering them to make more responsible choices about its use.

Please note The Australian Curriculum: Technologies area is yet to be formally endorsed and is currently available for States/Territories to begin the process of implementation. We realise that each state will be at very different stages of this process. However, regardless of your State or Territories progress, our goal has been to use the curriculum documentation to provide you with an understanding of age appropriate learning examples.

Let’s look at the technologies curricula in detail

Note that there are two tabs to Investigate each of the AC Technologies curricula this week.

Why is it important to study Design and Technology?

Learning about the importance of Design and Technology empowers young learners to have a greater understanding of the material world that they exist within.

“…the made world is a very significant part of life for most children and adults. Through D&T, children can begin to understand the made world and have well-founded confidence in dealing with issues in it “ (Newton, 2005, p.5).

Students also develop an appreciation of how Design and Technology create solutions to problems, and is a powerful tool to reshape the environments and objects that they use everyday.