ELINET Annual Cross-Cutting Topic 2020 / 2021
Enhancing Digital Literacy Skills: Good Practices for Early and Primary Years Education
ELINET’s Executive Committee (EC) decided in 2019 to determine one annual cross-cutting topic as the main focus of content-related work within ELINET. This work should involve all Thematic Working Groups (TWGs) and all ELINET members and shall thus become the ‘motor’ for building a corporate identity of the new ELINET Association.
Our overall goal is to establish ELINET as an important international thinktank in Europe which raises important questions concerning literacy & education and gives answers and recommendations for policymakers and practitioners in connecting research and good practice examples. As we are able to collect research and good practice in the countries our members come from, we can translate those national documents into English and therefore offer an international resource for national stakeholders to get inspired for their work on local, regional or national levels.
It is the specific strength of ELINET to be a truly international network of experts: currently, our members represent already 20 states. Ultimately the work on annual topics shall also contribute to further developing our European Framework of Good Practice (see https://elinet.pro/highlights/).
All ELINET members have the right to propose such relevant topics. At the General Assembly 2019 in Copenhagen we discussed five proposals and decided to focus our work on the topic “Enhancing Digital Literacy Skills” – starting with the age group 0 – 10 years (children), which will be followed by the age-group 10 – 18 years (adolescents) in our next term.
Rationale of the topic
Digital media are now the norm for everyday literacy practices – the rise and spread of digital technologies have significantly altered what it means to be literate in the 21st century, with profoundly enabling (or disabling) implications for interpersonal, community and individual communication. The inclusion of digital technologies is seen as an imperative for children’s later learning and participation in an ever-changing digital world. However, despite some attempts, there is an absence of a commonly agreed competence framework for digital literacy in the early years and a lack of understanding of what it should mean to be digitally-literate.
Our concept of digital literacy
In the absence of a commonly agreed competence framework of digital literacy for children, we adopt a “working definition” which will be refined later: The ultimate goal of digital literacy is for children to locate, comprehend, integrate, create and use information from multiple sources (online texts, videos, audio, images, interactive graphics,…) as well as to communicate and express effectively in various modalities at home and at school (oral, paper, visual, digital).
We are working on the following main outcomes of our project: a “European Framework of good practice in enhancing digital literacy skills in early and primary years’ education” and a European policy paper as a short summary of the Framework (similar to ELINET’s European Literacy Declaration), both addressing policymakers, practitioners and other stakeholders in this field. Both papers shall contain research-based recommendations for educating pre-school and primary school children to become digitally literate citizens.
The structure of the framework of good practice
We will use the same structure in all chapters:
- First, we will give the definition of the educational aim, grounded in the digital literacy framework,
- then we will summarize the current state of knowledge and identify research gaps and
- finally, we will offer recommendations for, and features of, good practice. These recommendations should be derived both from the research and the good practice examples we will collect.
Parallel to this conceptual work we are looking for good practice examples (see the call on our website), which we will review and analyse and in case of approval publish on our website. Furthermore, we will integrate the main findings of this practice research in our framework according to ELINET’s top-down and bottom-up approach of exchanging research and practice.
Presenting the outcome
Finally, we plan to publicly present both papers and selected examples of good practice during the 22nd European Literacy Conference in July 2021 in Dublin (https://www.literacyeurope.org/dublin-2021-home/). In case this conference will not take place because of the Corona Pandemic we plan to nevertheless present the results of our work in another (probably virtual) format in summer 2021.