Applying Digital Skills in the everyday classroom
Our students come to us with interests, some with passions. How can we harness that interest/passion and teach them the digital skills they need for success in the workplace?
Google has begun supporting the digital learner with a framework of video centered activities to teach the digital skills of GSuite while engaging with curriculum content. Applied Digital Skills has been released for the CSFirst team to teach the GSuite along side some virtually authentic tasks. Students have the opportunity to explore data analysis while creating a concept for the next big blockbuster movie, make a map of some favorite places from a sheet, or do some organized college research.
What Google Provides:
- 20 units of authentic tasks which can be tailored to the student.
- Lesson plans for the teacher with actionable tips on teaching each one.
- Rubrics: Customizable with created project samples.
- Tracking of student activity.
- Extension tasks.
- Videos with transcripts (transcripts only can be translated) of demonstrated instruction.
- Steps bulleted as a summery of action.
What you need to figure out:
- How work will be turned in. I recommend using Google Classroom and linking the activity as a resource. Materials are some times built on top of so if you are taking a series of assessment snapshots ask students to turn in a copy of their work so you don't have to rely on Version History.
- What topic(s) you will center the lesson around. Not all lessons provide the opportunity to frame the work around a content topic. Be sure to review the work first.
- A full set of devices for your class to use. While this can be done in small groups it's best geared to a 1-to-1 environment. It's developed to support students working at their own pace which means they need the digital ability to do so. Devices do work for this so if you are a BYOD environment even with cell phones it can function for you.
- How to do the work students are doing. Don't be fooled into thinking this is a simple learn how to alternate row colors in a spreadsheet. The lessons shift into basic programming and you will have a lot of questions you won't expect unless you do it yourself first and even a second time. If you are new to GSuite put yourself out there and take the risk to do it with them.
- Why are you doing this work. The why is very important to students. The dreaded answer I get when we talk about why we do something is, "for a grade". That's the soul killer for all of us. Develop with your students the "Why" so it's authentic and has a real world impact. If you are doing an If-Then Story partner with another class or elementary grade and make the "Why" about developing stories for them.
All students need digital skills. Not just in Digital Citizenship but also in Digital Production/Creation. We need to develop students that not only have content knowledge but will think beyond the facts and innovate the future. Giving students an end goal product and allowing them to select what fills it supports developing digital production skills while exploring passions. Google has provided the framework for just that. A student passionate about sports can be directed to develop an interactive spreadsheet of their favorite sports icons. Add in a map of where each player grew up. Compare players through an interactive slide deck discussing the pros and cons of each player while including comparison graphs as evidence. Wrap all this up into a website and we have a completed project which has taught a student more than just content. They’ve developed digital skills which can be applied to the workplace.
According to Bloomberg our students are most hirable when they can creatively problem-solve, communicate, think strategically, and lead. To do all this our students need to be able to Apply Digital Skills.
Project based learning with the teacher as facilitator and differentiated delivery of instruction and assessment is a recent push in education. Don’t just talk at them, engage them in building authentic projects and even better if they have real world applications. I would even augment the previous example to suggest students interested in this subject working as a group pick an accessible local sports community team as their topic. Students become connected to an authentic audience and work with real data and information making the experience more meaningful in an ideal world.
While my experience with the Applied Digital Skills delivery platform from the teacher side hasn’t been without issue, I have found the guided activities accessible and helpful for many learners. It gives an entry point for each and works best in a classroom when all learners have access to technology on a 1-to-1 basis. It can work in grouped technology settings but some students may be left behind. I recommend weaving the units as self contained pieces through out your regular curriculum. Thank Google for helping us to develop applicable digital skills.