Towards digital citizenship: a digital literacy curriculum to support teachers in the classroom

Middleton, Sophie Margaret Brigid (2022) Towards digital citizenship: a digital literacy curriculum to support teachers in the classroom. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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The purpose of this qualitative research is to generate theory that attempts to investigate, explore and “expand knowledge” (Bickman, 1981) in digital literacy skills and the needs of primary school teachers in educational training and Continuous Professional Development (CPD). Using its findings, an intervention framework was developed to empower teachers to support primary school children in an ever-changing digital landscape.

This study followed a Constructivist Grounded Theory (CGT) research method, focusing on generating a new theory through the exploration of pre-existing theoretical frameworks in relevant literature and the inductive analysis of the data gathered from Phases 2 (interviews) and 3 (interventions) of the research process.

Finding no agreed definition for ‘digital literacy’ in any given context during Phase 1 of the study, the researcher explored different models of digital literacy to create a definition of the phrase in a primary education setting:

Digital literacy in education involves using technology creatively and developing functional skills, through exploration and practice. It is the understanding of e-safety by critically questioning the use of technology and information and the risks involved. This involves critically conducting searches to find and select relevant information using digital tools. It involves the ability to communicate and collaborate effectively online and with this have knowledge and understanding of cultural, social, and ethical behaviours.

The researcher theorised that digital literacy in education consists of six components: functional skills, e-safety, finding and selecting relevant information, communication and collaboration, cultural, social, and ethical understanding, and creativity. The curriculum objectives of each component were determined after three-rounds of interviews with thirty-three practising teachers from North-East England, where questions were asked to gain an understanding of their digital literacy training needs which would be addressed in the training course. Findings showed the impact of COVID-19 saw these needs changing because of more frequent exposure and experience with teaching using technology, resulting in the development of digital literacy skills.

Without an agreed definition for digital literacy, the skillset which teachers require is often unknown. This study proposes that teachers are trained in a foundation of digital literacy skills, specified to a primary educational context. Teachers will learn the required skills to ensure transferability as technology changes and digitalised societies advance.

The significance of this research is that it informs educators of an overview of the six components of digital literacy in an educational context and suggests that delivery of a framework which provides training for teachers in this area, which can be adapted to suit any audience. The researcher suggests it may be adapted for CPD training, a HE module or a topic for primary school children.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: functional Skills, primary education, digital communication and collaboration, teaching with technology, information literacy
Subjects: G400 Computer Science
X300 Academic studies in Education
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Computer and Information Sciences
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2023 12:16
Last Modified: 27 Feb 2023 12:30

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