Well I am little late in posting this (Monday Eve) but had a very busy weekend of travel and coaching hockey. So this weeks' question of 'what does it mean to be literate today?' had me comparing the idea of sports, participating and understanding, to the idea of consuming media and information in a digital age, again participating and understanding. As some may remember my small town comparison to digital citizenship, I will now attempt to compare being literate in the digital and physical world to being literate in a sport or in sports. I'll use hockey in my metaphor as I am near the end of coaching for this season (my 22nd hockey team coached in 14 years).
The first idea that comes to mind in sports, is that when you are young, it is just about the very basics of individual skill, teamwork and attitude. Similarly online most of what we do is quite simple and involves gaming and videos. Not a significant amount of literacy, but an important starting point. As we grow, we realize that there is many factors that affect how the game turns out, myself yes, but also my team, the opponents, the refs and my physical and mental preparedness. I would say the same with digital literacy, there is a significant number of factors to consider, who you are, what platforms you use, and the many external factors affecting what is being presented to you. As you age, you realize that much of what you do online is tracked, observed and fed back to you in an echo chamber. Much like a parent who tells there kid they are the best player, this will not work well to have them improve or adapt their game (a vital skill for continued success). Literacy involves understanding both yourself and the myriad of factors that come into play in what media is presenting to you. As with any sport, you must understand a significant number of factors and adjust consistently, defense, offense, team-mates, conditions, strategies and more. There is many layers of understanding for those that watch any game, some people very surface levels, others with very deep and diverse understanding based on their literacy and experience within that sport. It is similar with digital literacy. With distorted pictures, fake news, controlled digital bubbles we must be similarly able to adapt to the web and world around us, to understand the many layers of presentation and truth to anything we consume or are presented with online. Sourcing information from many places and people, much like training with many specialists to perfect shooting, skating, fitness or mental focus. The answer lies in a diverse and critical understanding of all that is presented and to continuously growing and improving. And most importantly, knowing when to hang up the skates and take a break, or log off and do something else!
As we think of the many roles one can play in sports, I would think of youth and students as players, teachers as coaches, officials and managers, and parents as owners that really should be controlling what is occurring and how literacy is developed. I believe families play a vital role in imparting this skill and passion for literacy in many realms, sports, life and digital citizenship as they will be the most consistent factor over a lifetime of a kid. As your role increase in responsibility and impact so too should your literacy level in the sport or in digital citizenship. As Holly pointed out in her article from the Americal Psychological Association - Fighting Fake News in the Classroom, almost everyone is vulnerable to being douped online regardless of age. So this is a lifetime skill that develops into many other skills. Just as sport develops social ability, adaptability, grit and perserverance. Literacy in many different aspects develops critical thinking, integrity, honourable communication and relationships. Success in one realm, leads to success in many realms in the web of learning, and really literacy is a vital aspect of learning, just as traits developed in sport transfer well into personal well-being and success.