DML Central today has a great piece by Doug Belshaw: "What do Google, Open Source Software and Digital Literacies have in Common?" He says that schools need to do much more than just teach how to use common commercial software such as Microsoft Office. In fact more than learning to use open source software as well. They need to go further to help students understand the principles, such as openness, that inform the world we live in today. He lists elements that are essential to developing digital literacy: Cultural Cognitive, Constructive, Communicative, Confident, Creative, Critical, Civic. (Perhaps they should be called digital literaC's?)
I believe openness is a property that should extend to academic and educational practice, not just the software that we use. Over the past few years I have made available online my doctoral thesis on the subject of Digital and New Literacies - as I have written it. Far from being plagiarized and it causing problems with my university (as the naysayers predicted) it has been a fantastic experience, with me gaining feedback from a much wider circle than I than I could have hoped for. Whilst I was teaching History I had my students do likewise: they blogged weekly about what they had learned with their writing readable by the world. When a descendant of a Native American commented on one of my student’s blogs, thanking him for his thoughtful and balanced consideration of his ancestors, that student came bouncing into the classroom the next day. You simply cannot buy experiences like that. Open is an attitude we should be encouraging and extolling in our educational institutions.
- DMLcentral.net: What do Google, Open Source Software and Digital Literacies have in Common?, 8/29/11, Doug Belshaw
His great point about the impossibility of teaching people to think OPEN when they are learning software that is CLOSED reminded me of the Cory Doctorow essay that I blogged about last spring in which he argues that the values of the tools (ie: software) that an activist uses are as important as the values that an activist fights for. Glad to see this principle applied directly in the education sector as well.
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tribalicious/185151669