Teacher professional development programmes, including mid- and long-term STEAM courses, are now online. Many teacher training schools throughout the world are debating whether the COVID-19 restrictions are a transitory change or a new normal. This study aimed to design and implement a time- and money-saving synchronous online teacher training format for STEAM co-design courses for early childhood teachers in Nigeria. Based on the university’s curriculum of in-person training courses on the same topic, with 40 contact hours, there can be in 11-months (as it was pre-COVID) and in 4-months, customised to participants’ needs. Online STEAM courses can reach targeted goals faster than in-person training. Comparing results between in-person and online teaching courses requires more research.
Building Digital Literacy in Education
Digital abilities allow people to operate digital content and use digital communication and collaboration technology in learning, working, and social activities. Modern literacy requires basic digital abilities to use digital and online technology in Nigeria. Teaching digital literacy needs schools to implement innovations and creative classroom practises. Students need teachers to act as guides and facilitators when establishing digital skills. Their learning outcomes are connected to the teachers’ subject expertise. Success in implementing digital technology depends on teachers’ digital competencies and attitudes. Teachers struggle to blend technology and processes with topic content in Africa generally. This shows instructors need training and support to embrace technology. These courses should improve instructors’ digital skills. Effective and attractive learning environments require a comprehensive strategy on every level to accommodate varied pedagogies and promote subject-based and cross-curricular knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, and ethics.
What is digital literacy?
Making sure students are employable is a clear motivator for schools. As a result, developing technical abilities is critical. However, digital literacy is more than simply IT knowledge (although knowing how to use tech is now an essential life skill).
In reality, digital literacy is distinct from computer literacy. It necessitates critical thinking abilities, a comprehension of the accepted standards of behaviour in online spaces, and an understanding of the shared social concerns caused by digital technologies. Alternatively, digital literacy Equals understanding of digital tools + critical thinking + social involvement.
Early Childhood Educators’ Digital Competences in Nigeria
Modern instructors are digitally savvy, and the COVID-19 crisis highlighted early childhood ICT and digital skills. In certain cases, online training programmes lacked pedagogical methodologies and technology capabilities for online or remote teaching with young children. A recent study found that pre-service early childhood instructors scored lowest on content creation. Digital content development must be emphasised. Both teachers and students are required to create content early on. Digital creativity helps classrooms adopt active and innovative ways.
Professional Development in Digital Competences Through Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math Approaches
Programmes that use co-creation to improve teachers’ digital skills teach STEAM, technology, pedagogy, and learning content experts help participants integrate technologies into teachers’ instructional routines. End-users co-create innovation-related artefacts (in education: instructional methodologies and resources) to boost user motivation and innovation adoption.
Research and policy believe digital skills improve children’s results. A systematic evaluation of research on digital skills among 12- to 17-year-olds found 34 cross-sectional surveys that examined the relationship between digital skills and tangible outcomes. Two-thirds concerned the association with online opportunities or other benefits while one-third studied online dangers in Nigeria. Digital abilities were linked to online opportunities, knowledge benefits, and tech orientation. Greater digital abilities were connected to greater online risk, but the link to harm was unclear. Information skills were related with better results, whereas technical skills were not. Few studies examined communication or creative digital skills. Future study should measure digital skills individually and include more outcomes.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused rushed digitalization of primary and secondary student education, and cyber-risks such as bullying, technology addiction, and misinformation must be addressed. There is an urgent need to coordinate global efforts for digital skills education and training, which can help students succeed in the digital age while curbing risks and inequality in Nigeria.
First, people must grasp their world and build their professional skills. The goal is to give students a broad general culture of numerous subjects while stimulating their critical sense so they may comprehend and investigate reality. The process of obtaining knowledge never ends.
The second pillar refers to applying college knowledge in the workplace. Adapting instruction to the labour market. As the labour market’s intellectual requirements rise, training should be personalised to build more necessary competencies. The third pillar is one of the biggest issues and is strongly tied to labour market competitiveness, especially individual competitiveness. The shared project guarantees we know ourselves before appreciating others.
The digital age has become an indelible aspect of modern life. It is the world where many people communicate, learn, shop, and entertain themselves. The digital world has the potential to connect people all over the world. Nonetheless, the digital world presents numerous obstacles. It is linked to a wide spectrum of cyber-threats such as hacking, bullying, identity theft, human trafficking, technology addiction, and privacy invasion, and the World Health Organization has classified gaming disorder as a medical disease (WHO). The current COVID-19 epidemic has hastened the broad digitization of many previously unprepared businesses. Children have been among the hardest hit, with many being forced to convert to online learning. The rapid change has been difficult, and it has been exacerbated by factors such as poor digital skills, access to technology, inequality, and institutional tribalism in Nigeria.
We urgently want a worldwide coordinated approach to assist kids in acquiring the digital skills required to keep up with this rapidly changing landscape. It is especially crucial to build digital citizenship, as well as a larger set of digital abilities, to encourage engagement and assist students in maximising opportunities and limiting risks in the digital world.
Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, the digital world had an impact on kids. The digital world has provided enormous benefits, but the rate at which digital technology progresses significantly outpaces the rate at which we have responded in terms of education, policies, and culture. This mismatch has allowed cyber-risks to proliferate among children who have been left vulnerable due to a lack of preparation or precautions. Our team performed a study of over 145,000 children and adolescents from 30 countries to better understand the prevalence of cyber-risks worldwide. Participants were asked about their personal experiences with various sorts of cyber-risks, and rating measures based on frequency of exposure were devised.
According to the survey findings, 60% of children aged 8 to 12 were exposed to cyber-risks such as cyberbullying, gaming disorder, sexual grooming, and violence. Notably, 45% of children online were victims of cyberbullying, 39% faced reputational risks, 29% were exposed to violent and sexual content, 28% faced cyber threats, 17% had risky contacts such as an offline meeting with strangers or sexual contact, 13% faced a gaming disorder, and 7% faced a social media disorder.
Digital literacy and e-safety
While it has the potential to deliver immense value, our online world also comes with inherent risks, particularly for children. The truth is, while younger generations are being labelled as digital natives when it comes to safety, they are often no more literate than their parents.
Digital platforms make children vulnerable to criminals and bullies, especially during a time of lockdown and social isolation in Nigeria. They can cause students to compare their existence to the often-fabricated online lives of others, inciting feelings of inadequacy, detachment, isolation, and even the development of mental health issues. They can also leave pupils open to misinformation, manipulation, and fake news.
Digital literacy is crucial and involves using technology safely, effectively, and responsibly. As technology becomes more pervasive, the need for digital literacy abilities grows. Digital literacy is vital for five reasons.
1. Promote Learning
First, the rising use of technology in education makes digital literacy vital. In the past 15 years, schools and universities have increasingly used computers, tablets, and the internet as learning tools.
Students with digital literacy abilities will be more comfortable and competent in these learning platforms, while those without may have their development hampered by an inability to navigate the relevant technologies. With most state standardised tests delivered online, it’s crucial that kids have the confidence to focus on the topic instead of being impeded or distracted by technology. Online assessments: Helping students think about answers, not fingers.
2. Safety online
Online hazards are complicated and ever-changing, with bad actors finding new methods to exploit others. Digital literacy may equip kids with knowledge, tools, processes, and resources to defend their safety and privacy online.
3. Digital Responsibility
Digital literacy teaches online safety and digital accountability, or how to consume and share information properly online. Increased digital dependence exposes children to issues including copyright and plagiarism, cyberbullying, and evaluating informative resources. Digital literacy helps kids solve these hurdles and become good digital citizens.
4. Increase digital equity
Digital literacy bridges the digital divide. Despite the widespread use of technology in homes and schools, many minority workers lack digital literacy. By making digital literacy a priority in education, institutions may help underrepresented groups improve their digital literacy and gain future professional prospects.
5. Lifelong Skills
Digital literacy foundations equip students with information and abilities that may be used to many technologies now and in the future. Input/output, application functioning, hardware devices and how to use them can provide transferrable knowledge for new and developing technologies.
Deep learning and digital literacy
One essential component of digital literacy when it comes to the field of pedagogy is deep learning, of which there are six core skills:
- Collaboration: The ability to work collaboratively with others, with strong interpersonal and team-related skills.
- Creativity: Being able to weigh up opportunities in an entrepreneurial manner and ask the right questions to generate new ideas.
- Critical thinking: Being able to evaluate information and arguments, identify patterns and connections, and construct meaningful knowledge and apply it in the real world.
- Citizenship: The ability to consider issues and solve complex problems based on a deep understanding of diverse values and a worldview.
- Character: Traits such as grit, tenacity, perseverance, and resilience; alongside a desire to make learning an integral part of living.
- Communication: Being able to communicate effectively through a variety of methods and tools to a range of different audiences.
Essential Digital Skills:
- Email and instant messaging
- Word processing
- Social media for business
- Web-based research and problem solving
- Data entry and handling
- Behaving safely and legally online
Advanced Digital Skills:
- User experience design
- Programming, web, and app development
- SEO, SEM, and content creation
- Data analysis
- Project management, Business analysis and Product management
Digital skills education
Digital skills education programmes have been widely developed. Digital literacy is an essential ability in the OECD Learning Framework. There was insufficient programme coordination and no widely recognised definition of digital literacy until recently. Thus, digital skills education programmes had limited impact even as digitalization accelerated.
To address this issue, the Coalition for Digital Intelligence—OECD, IEEE Standards Association, and DQ Institute developed the recently adopted IEEE Standard for Digital Intelligence Framework for Digital Literacy, Skills, and Readiness. This set of international standards coordinates digital-competency-building initiatives worldwide.
Every child should have digital citizenship educational campaign has used the framework to develop core digital abilities in over 1 million children in more than 80 countries. Evaluation of student learning results showed that the competencies may be learned in the world. Case studies in Nigeria, South Africa, and Ghana show that governments, non-profits, and schools are embracing the digital intelligence framework.
Conclusions and outlook
We must ensure that the digitalization of education is inclusive and reduces inequality. Such results would ensure sustainable development of the digital economy and its potential to alter lives through digital skills education. Online learning will become more significant in education, we believe. We must do more to assist student achievement in the digital age by equipping them with digital skills. Digitalization of the education sector is the newest manifestation of broader economic trends, and the efforts we describe here can also be applied to teacher training and labour training in general. Online and offline possibilities are no more dichotomies; the digital world is fusing into our daily lives, and we must equip all individuals with digital skills education and training to survive in this digital age.
When it comes to introducing digital learning into the curriculum, educators can’t bury their heads in the sand. Instead, it is up to the government, online providers, parents, and teachers to work together to support and protect pupils online. Find out more how you can create a modern classroom to encourage digital literacy. Nevertheless, the digital world is here to stay, and our pupils will have to face the challenges and threats that come with living with technology whether we expose and prepare them for it or not. So, surely it is better to teach them the skills they need to stay safe and thrive in Nigeria.