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Young learners today are not growing up at the foot of the family radio or spend a good portion of their childhood glued to the television while Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers disseminated information in a constant stream as did previous generations. Rather, this generation of young learners continues to spend many out-of-school hours in a digital world composed of cell phones, MP3 players, computers, and video gaming. This very simple beginning is changing the horizon of learning. The primary purpose of this article is to examine the components of digital learning and the impact these components bring to the relationship of learners to their learning experience. Further, instructional and curricular modifications are discussed addressing the trend of expanded learning, evaluation of that learning, and the possible impact on the educational system, students, educators, and trainers across the nation and throughout the world.
This module has been peer-reviewed, accepted, and sanctioned by the National Council of Professors of Educational Administration (NCPEA) as a scholarly contribution to the knowledge base in educational administration.


Evolving literacy for digital learners

Literacy in the 20th century has expanded from an emphasis on comprehending page text and listening to lectures to include a wider, more encompassing tool set, requiring more activity-based competencies. Though previously didactic learning was the mainstay in the classroom, it has since been recognized that other learning styles may be more suited to the online learning experiences and that the expansion of learning may begin early on. Prensky (2001) claims that“digital natives”having had exposure to technology from an early age, now may have brains that are wired differently. In this claim, information is processed in a random access manner, rather than linear, yielding to a simple“stepping stone”effect in lieu of the winding“sidewalk-model”of thinking. Though in either case, this is still considered logical thinking. Youth have now added robust multi-tasking to their learning skill set. In support of this adaptation, a 2003 survey of 1,065 U.S. parents requesting information concerning computer usage found that computer usage generally began in the parent’s lap by age two and by age three, children could control the mouse, load a CD, and turn on the computer (Calvert et al., 2005). This suggests that students are learning to incorporate digital tools about the time they are acquiring and incorporating language and verbal skills yielding the incorporation of these skills early on.

Beyond comprehending text and early computer skills, learners must be competent in image and screen navigation in order to perform as fully literate (Brown, 2000). Twenty-first century literacy demands the ability to use technology, including visuals and audio segments to enhance personal learning and to communicate more effectively with others (Looney, 2005). Literacy now encompasses more than mere reading and comprehending thoughts from text. Computers, DVD players, cell phones, game consoles, and iPODs (Apple Computer) are now the norm in students’pre-and post-school day activities. Choices abound within the video game world. Though these claims are not yet universally understood and accepted, initial research into new literacies promotes the notion that a different skill set is required for building competencies online. The repeated findings of“no significant difference”between online and traditional course offerings in the broad spectrum indicate that the act of learning may be changing to incorporate this expanded instructional style (Bernard, Abrami, Lou,&Borokhovski, 2004; Bernard, Brauer, Abrami,&Surkes, 2004; Clark, 2001; Russell, 1999; Smith, Clark,&Blomeyer, 2005).

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Source:  OpenStax, A brave new digi-world and caribbean literacy : a search for solutions. OpenStax CNX. Apr 22, 2010 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10600/1.10
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