In recent posts I have made the point that we can better promote the learning we want for our students via “backward design,” assessing what we aim for and then working backwards to promote learning that will ensure success on our assessments, and the point that “digital natives” may be digitally comfortable, but that does not mean they are digitally sophisticated (or digitally fluent).

So it is in keeping with both previous that I write to share my interest in, and at least preliminary enthusiasm for, a recently retooled and now more broadly available testing assessment from ETS, the “iSkills.” The test aims to provide schools a fascinating way to assess (and, as a result, stimulate and motivate) the teaching and learning of more sophisticated “digital fluency” in our schools.

One important quick note: when you look at the online site for iSkills, it gives the distinct appearance of being available only to higher ed, but I have been assured and guaranteed that secondary schools of all kinds are welcome to participate and they think it suitable for students tenth grade and higher.

I had the good fortune to participate recently in an ETS iSkills webinar, and I am fascinated by the tool. (The 70 slides displayed above were the program of the webinar, and are extremely informative for interested parties.)

Much of the session was dedicated to defining the importance and nature of digital fluency; it occupies a spot among critical thinking, 21st century skills, information literacy and ICT: Information and Communication technology proficiency.

“Digital Fluency” as a term aims to capture critical thinking and communication in an online environment.  Surely most of us recognize that the world is going to continue to increasingly require of our students (and ourselves) powerful online and digital savvy in critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration skills, and we should be looking for more terms and concepts to capture this emerging and essential skill.  (more…)

Julian Treasure offers us above a recent TED Talk, a lovely exhortation on the value of listening, but notably short on the details.

His key recommendation is for the use of the acronym RASA.

Receive (which means pay attention to the person); Appreciation (making little noises like Ok), Summarize (the word so is very important to communications), Ask (ask questions afterward).

I live to listen, that every human being needs to listen consciously to live fully: we need to be connected in space and time to the physical world around us, and connected in understanding to each other.

We need to teach listening in our schools, as a skill: Why is it not taught?  It’s crazy.

We can move it to a place where everyone is consciously listening all the time, or at least capable of doing it.

Let’s transform the world to a conscious listening world, a world of connection, a world of understanding and a world of peace.

The video could make, I think, for a lovely preface to an advisory session (pressed for time? Just watch the last two minutes, beginning at 6.00) about listening, and students could be invited then to practice good listening for the subsequent 15 minutes in pairs or trios.

In this second video, Eli Parisier, author of the Filter Bubble, calls upon us to listen better by listening more widely to a wider array of ideas and perspectives.   (more…)