Tang, C. M., & Chaw, L. Y. (2016). Digital Literacy: A Prerequisite for Effective Learning in a Blended Learning Environment?. Electronic Journal of E-learning, 14(1), 54-65.
Summary. This article looks carefully at the relationship between effective learning through the use technology and digital literacy within blended learning environments in higher education. The study was performed by surveying students who were currently enrolled in blended classrooms at university. The authors define a blended learning environment as one which has all resources and tools for the course housed within an LMS to allow for online collaboration, but faculty and students also meeting in face-to-face classrooms (Tang & Chaw, 2016). There study found that “for blended learning to be successful, there is a need for students to be digitally literate,” primarily because it allows students to easily adapt to a variety of tools and learning environments (Tang & Chaw, 2016, pg. 62). The authors then go on to argue that digital literacy can be broken into three constructs: underpinnings experiential learning, and searching, which are all needed in a blended-learning environment (Tang & Chaw, 2016). In order for students to be successful in a blended-learning environment, faculty need to gauge the digital literacy of their students in order to evolve their assessments and tools used to meet students competency levels, according to Tang & Chaw, this is necessary for students to be effective in the classroom.
Evaluation. While this study revealed some interesting data, the pool of participants was small, only 176 students responded to the survey, and only 161 ended up being considered valid responses. Another issue with the study was that many students surveyed found blended-learning environments to be negatively impacting their learning experience, however, they also were students coming straight from high school, traditionally face-to-face environment. By having students who were more used to face-to-face environments, this could have greatly impacted the results of the survey. The article itself is very accessible and well written in that it would not require a lot of background knowledge to understand it’s contents. While that data pool is small, it is still intriguing data that should not be ignored completely.
Application. This article makes the argument that students need to have digital literacy in order to adapt to classroom technology and online learning environments, and thus this somehow leads to effective learning. If this is the case, this article is interesting jumping off point for asking questions related to digital literacy within Native American communities, and comparing them to non-Native American communities to see if there is some form of correlation. As many Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCU’s) do not have online programs, it is an area I am interested in exploring:
- Why is there a hesitation towards online learning?
- Could this hesitation be linked to a lack in digital literacy skills?
- In what ways can this gap in digital literacy be bridged for the Native American community in a way that is culturally responsible?