What is Literacy with ICT?

This page provides a brief overview of Literacy with ICT (LwICT). To learn even more about LwICT choose one of the four options listed below.

If you prefer:
  • to explore and follow your own learning path, visit the LwICT Website.
  • to follow a more structured path and play a game, take the LwICT Scavenger Hunt.
  • an indepth professional learning experience, check out the LwICT Webquest.
  • a quick video clip to visualize LwICT.

A Brief Overview of Literacy with ICT (LwICT)

What is ICT (Information and Communication Technology)?
Information and communication technologies includes computers, laptops, digital cameras, video cameras, digital microscopes, scanners, cell phones, electronic games, digital audio devices, global positioning systems, electronic whiteboards, the Internet, et cetera. ICTs in the classroom will continue to evolve as new technologies emerge over time.

What is Literacy?
We might think we know what literacy it, but the fact is that even the very definition of literacy is evolving with our society and its needs and abilities. Check out the definition of literacy from the National Council of Teachers of English. [1. Develop proficiency with the tools of technology, 2. Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally, 3. Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes, 4. Manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information, 5. Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multi-media texts, and 6. Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments.

What is Literacy with ICT?
Being literate with ICT means choosing and using ICT, responsibly and ethically, to support critical and creative thinking about information and about communication as a citizen of the global community. Literacy with ICT consists of 3 components: critical and creative thinking, ethics and responsibility, and ICT literacy.

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This representation shows the relationship between ICT literacy (i.e., demonstrating ICT skills) and literacy with ICT (i.e., choosing and using ICT, responsibly and ethically, to support critical and creative thinking about information and about communication across the curriculum). ICT literacy is a critical component of literacy with ICT, but it is not sufficient in itself.

How do students develop their own literacy with ICT?
Literate students choose and use ICT, responsibly and ethically, to support their critical and creative thinking about textual, numerical, visual, and aural information as citizens of the global community. They develop this literacy through a process of inquiry across the curriculum using LwICT Big Ideas, as they
  • plan and question
  • gather and make sense
  • produce to show understanding
  • communicate
  • reflect on their learning

How do students develop their own ICT literacy?
ICT literacy is one component of Literacy with ICT. ICT literacy involves acquiring the supporting skills that are needed for students to develop their literacy with ICT. These supporting skills are most effectively developed within curricular context rather than on their own.

7 Things You Need to Know About Literacy with ICT

  1. It is a continuum, not a curriculum - Literacy with ICT Across the Curriculum is NOT a new curriculum. Rather, it is a developmental continuum that teachers use to assess how students are developing their literacy across all curricular areas, with the support of ICT. There are no outcomes for teachers to teach or for students to achieve. Instead, LwICT focuses on 9 BIG IDEAS across two domains: Cogitive and Affective. Each of these BIG IDEAS is elaborated using descriptors, over levels of thinking informed by Bloom's taxonomy. Teachers and students use the continuum to develop and assess their critical and creative thinking, as well as their ethics and responsibility with ICT.
  2. It is infused into all learning- Literacy with ICT is not a separate curriculum, with general and specific outcomes. The Cognitive Domain of LwICT focuses on the Inquiry Process which is a learning process common to all curricular areas. Mathematicians call it problem solving. Scientists call it scientific inquiry or the design process. Social Scientists call it research. And in Language Arts it is called Inquiry, but common to all are the 5 BIG IDEAS - Plan and Question, Gather and Make Sense, Produce to Show Understanding, Communicate and Reflect. The focus for teachers is on guiding students as they develop their literacy with ICT through a process of inquiry (described in the 5 BIG IDEAS) and on assessing the level of thinking that they observe being demonstrated by individual students as they learn. This happens across the curriculum.
  3. It is likely already happening in your classroom and school – LwICT highlights promising teaching practices that you are already using in your classroom, including differentiated instruction, student-focused pedagogy, gradual release of responsibility, inquiry and constructivism. A student-focused classroom engages students actively in their own learning. One of the supporting principles of Literacy with ICT Across the Curriculum is the gradual release of responsibility. In this model, teachers provide scaffolding to help students develop higher-level critical and creative thinking and deeper understanding. As teachers support learners, they believe that all students are able to learn, and provide a differentiated learning environment in which all students can gradually take on responsibility for their own learning. Teachers enable this learning environment by becoming facilitators of learning, by providing real choices that accommodate a range of learning styles and by inviting students to choose what they will do to demonstrate their learning and to identify the steps they will take to accomplish the task.
  4. It is not necessary for teachers (or students) to be ICT 'experts' - To support students as they develop their literacy with ICT, teachers need to be familiar with the Inquiry Process, Constructivist learning and the gradual release of responsibility model of explicit instruction. The teacher is not expected to be an ICT expert but rather an expert in pedagogy. ICT tools change frequently and teachers need to release some responsibility to their students in using the ICT necessary to further learning. The teacher needs a baseline set of skills which are found in the table of supporting skills found on the back of the continuum. Accessibility of technology within a school can also determine which supporting skills are needed.
  5. It is an on-going process – all students can be observed demonstrating their learning on the continuum - A hallmark of a developmental continuum is that each person can 'find' themselves on any particular continuum. This is also true with the developmental continuum for Literacy with ICT. Everyone can find where they are across all nine BIG IDEAS. Teachers first use the continuum to find where each of their students is in each big idea. The purpose in establishing this baseline is to determine where students are starting, in order to assist students in moving foward on the continuum. This is Assessment FOR learning and is the power of a continuum. The LwICT continuum is primarily a tool to discover where students need assistance in developing and extending their literacy with ICT. Of course, students also use the student-friendly version of the continuum to self-assess their own literacy with ICT. This is assessment AS learning and supports metacognition. Such transparency allows both teacher and students to work together in the process of setting goals and criteria for developing each student's literacy with ICT. This process continues throughout the school year and communicates student growth and progress to everyone involved in the learning community.
  6. Its assessment is triangular: balancing Conversations, Observations, and Portfolios - Literacy with ICT Across the Curriculum is an important assessment tool for Assessment FOR/AS learning. Teachers use the continuum to inform themselves about where students are in terms of developing their critical and creative thinking as well as their sense of ethics and responsibility when using ICT. This assessment allows teachers to see gaps in student learning and enable them to differentiate instruction that best suits the particular needs of each learner. This assessment FOR learning is critical. Students become more self-directed as they use the student-friendly version of the continuum to assess their own learning. This assessment AS learning empowers each student and assists in the metacognitive process. When using the triangulation model of assessment - Conversation, Observation and Portfolio - teachers can determine where on the continuum each child is found, and get a well-rounded portrait of each child to communicate to parents.
  7. It's the learning you assess, not the technology - Teachers sometimes wonder how to assess the products that students create to show evidence of their learning. The answer is simple if you always remember to focus on assessing the learning that students are demonstrating through their product and not the medium they may choose to represent their learning. Whether students produce a digital story, a movie, a presentation, or a simple word-processed document, we always assess their message, and how effective they are at communicating their understanding of the concept, not how they represent it. Still, we have to make sure that they choose an effective tool for their purpose and that they understand that the tool they choose must compliment the evidence of their learning and not detract from it. Students need to be involved in establishing criteria to assess their learning so they know what the expectations are, but teachers should keep in mind that it is student learning that is assessed (critical and creative thinking and ethics and responsibility) and not ICT skills.