High school teacher
"Electronic devices should be able to help us teach more and in a more effective way."
Reflections on digital skills and their importance as regards education.
There have been three generations of digital technology. The first ran from approximately 1960 to 1980 and was called 'Generation X'. The second, 'Generation Y', or the 'Millennials' generation was from 1980 to 1994. People born in this era joined a world where technology was in common use, while those who were already alive before had to adapt to it. The third of these epochs is the one your children belong to, which is called 'Generation Z'. In Spain, this era began around 1994, which is when the Internet boom happened and the web became more democratized. This generation spans 1994 to the present day and is very diverse, so it's difficult to establish what it's characteristics are. I think what defines this generation of Snapchat, YouTube and Instagram users is that they were born in an audiovisual world. We will reach a point where the dichotomy between natives and immigrants will no longer have any meaning and in the future we'll have to focus more on what digital skills these generations have.
Digital jargon has very specific characteristics. Many of these words, which are anglicisms (i.e. they come from English), are highly ephemeral. They appear and disappear due to an influencer or social network's ability to make them go viral. Some of them are very short sentences, and a lot of them are a short-form version of a word. Acronyms are also frequently used. This vocabulary has also become part of our language, so it defines who we are. It also defines what your children and my students are like. I think this is a very important issue.
Basically, the term digital skills means how a person uses technology in pursuit of meaningful learning. In total, there are five main skills. The first focuses on information and literacy. The second, which I think is very important, deals with communication, i.e. how we use technology to communicate with each other. The third skill involves creativity and creating content. The final two skills are related to digital security and conflict resolution. How we engage with the digital society as teachers, students and society in general should be guided by these five major skill sets.
For me, innovation involves change, transformation, risk, learning from your mistakes and learning from others. Above all, I believe innovation must be based on leadership and methodology. As I am passionate about emotional education, I think this area should also be used to drive innovation, as should emotional and digital skills.
From an educational perspective, I believe electronic devices should be able to help educators teach more and in a more effective way. There are now four major types of learning opportunities called "electronic learning", one of which is online learning. There are two others that I think are very important; "mobile learning", which involves mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets and how to include the use of these electronic devices in classes to aid learning, and "ubiquitous learning", which is an intriguing educational method that people talk about nowadays.
We have to make a distinction between misuse, abuse and addiction where these technologies and electronic devices are concerned. Misuse is an occasional ill-advised use of technology that occurs on an almost anecdotal basis, such as sending an inconsiderate message on WhatsApp, or posting a comment on social media. Clearly however, when misuse becomes abuse, teachers, educators and parents need to be aware of what's going on. Sometimes, it reaches a point where the line separating abuse from addiction is very slim. For example, when a child plays games on their cell phone or games console, they might become more argumentative and start to tell lies. Their school work may suffer and they will retreat to their bedrooms. They will spend less time with friends and family and share fewer experiences with others. They might also suffer eating and sleep disorders. There are many signs that an abuse of technology is becoming an addiction; however, they won't all appear at once. In reality, there's no such thing as addiction, only addicts, and when it becomes clear that someone really is an addict, they'll need help from a professional. That said, I think these are extreme cases, and what we're dealing with at the moment is somewhere between misuse and abuse. Hence, the importance of digital education and learning about what it is so we can provide the best opportunities to the people we love the most, such as your children and my students.
Find out more about Santiago Moll
- Santiago Moll is a high school teacher and writer of the book 'Empantallados: Cómo convivir con hijos digitales' (Addicted to screens: How to live with digital children'). He also writes an educational blog called 'Justifica tu respuesta' (Justify your answer) and advocates a responsible use of technology in order to improve digital skills within an educational environment.
- How should we be monitoring our children's use of cell phones?
You must always know what their passwords are and have access to their browsing history. They should use them appropriately and perhaps not necessarily take them to school. There must be times when they disconnect and don't see their cell phones as another limb. Children must also be respectful when using instant messaging services such as WhatsApp, so you should monitor their use of any websites that might have inappropriate content. These are very specific, clear and brief guidelines that I think could be a great starting point to help you implement some useful rules within your family.