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Developing an i-Curriculum

November 18th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

The issue of digital literacy will not go away. And it reappears in strange forms. Every six months or so there is a surge of posts on teh Becata research list serve suggesting all kids should be taught to touch type. Fair enough – if I could type properly it would save me a lot of time in correcting errors. But I don’t really see the keyboard lasting much longer as the main form of talking to a computer.

Anyway, it has always seemed to me that one of the big challenges arising from the idea of digital literacy is the curriculum. I am quite bemused by curricula in general. Whatever research we undertake, whatever needs we show, the development of curricula seems to go on in a seperate and parallel universe. There was one project that I evaluated which greatly impressed me. Martin Owen was one of the project partners and his guest blog on this page earlier this week reminded me of the project. It was called i-Curriculum and it set out to research and develop guidelines for curricula for developing digital literacy. At least that is what I think the project was about. The official European project blurb says:

“The I-Curriculum framework is a set of guidelines that can be used by policy makers, teachers and other educators, the producers of digital resources, and students to check whether a project or lesson achieves the goal of enabling active participation in lifelong learning practices. This framework could help in the examination of current curriculum and learning design, locating the process within the demands of changing cultures and mapping educational provision onto the new demands of new contexts in which life, work and education interact.”

Central to the project is the framework.

“The framework represents a shift away from the notion of key skills. It looks at an activity as developing various skills related to digital literacies, the areas are:

  • exchanging and sharing information; communication and collaboration
  • researching: finding things out
  • modelling
  • working practices and attitudes.

Across each of these skill areas are three levels of curriculum activity:

The Operational Curriculum is learning to use the tools and technology effectively. Knowing how to word-process, how to edit a picture, enter data and make simple queries of an information system, save and load files and so on.

The Integrating Curriculum is where the uses of technology are applied to current curricula and organisation of teaching and learning. This might be using an online library of visual material, using a virtual learning environment to deliver a course or part of a
course. The nature of the subject and institution of learning is essentially the same, but technology is used for efficiency, motivation and effectiveness.

The Transformational Curriculum is based on the notion that what we might know, and how and when we come to know it has changed by the existence of the technologies we use and therefore the curriculum and organisation of teaching and learning needs to change
to reflect those changes.

There is implied inclusion of levels along the axis, but it is not the case that you need to study in an operational way before you become transformational. There is a real danger in making that assumption. If you start from the position that you are going to be transformational or integrative then you do not approach the acquisition of operational skills in the same way. If the curriculum is viewed in such a way that competence operations in themselves are the learning outcomes then teaching can be fairly mechanical – however, if the curriculum is designed to be transformational, the acquisition of the operational skills is needs driven,
intrinsic, secure in a model of transferability and almost taken-for-granted.”

If you are interested, FutureLab have a web page giving access to the final report. The report contains the following sections
Background – this section defines what is meant by digital literacy skills in this document, and how we can distinguish between levels of competency.

The framework – discusses the theoretical underpinnings of the matrix as well as presenting the matrix.

Case studies – three illustrative case studies taken from some of the partner countries that demonstrate how current practice can be considered using the framework as an assessment tool.

Conclusions and recommendations – this summarises the findings and recommendations for the EU with respect to the development of digital literacy skills.

The project web site also provides access to many of the projects working documents. Some of these are avaiable in Greek, Spanish and German, as well as English.

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