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GSE Learning Community Helps Teachers Teach Digital Literacies More Effectively

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Digital literacies have been identified as one of the 21st century skills required for success in an ever-changing digital society. Now in its 4th year, the Fordham Digital Literacies Collaborative (DLC) has grown from a 5-member group to expand into an active learning community.

Founded in 2013 by Dr. Kristen Hawley Turner, an associate professor in the GSE who specializes in English education and contemporary learning, the DLC is a professional development organization that brings teachers from the tri-state area together to discuss issues in digital literacies in their own lives as well as their students’ lives.

“As teachers, we are always learners,” said Turner. “So we read professional texts together and talk about them, and we conduct inquiries in our classrooms. The teachers create teaching demonstrations that they share with other teachers.” Every summer, the group present their findings in a DLC-sponsored conference. In addition, several members have also presented in other conferences hosted by National Council of Teacher of English and the University of Michigan.

Turner said that the DLC’s philosophy is: “to be teacher of digital literacies, you must develop your own”. The group meet via Google hangout or video conference to discuss books and explore ideas on how to use tools like blogs, wikis, podcasts and other technology in their classrooms.

Currently the group is consisted of 25 members who teach a variety of subjects and grade levels, from English, math, to elementary and special education. There are also members who are college professors and school administrators.

“We usually accept up to 10 people each year”, said Turner. “Anyone involved in education who cares about digital literacies can apply.” The application opens in August and closes in September.

Gordon Van Owen, an English teacher at Urban Assembly School of Business for Young Women in Manhattan and also a second-year student, in the Ph.D. program in Contemporary Learning and Interdisciplinary Research (CLAIR) at Fordham, said he joined the DLC primarily for his students.

“My students spend countless hours glued to their phones,” said Van Owen. “Why wouldn’t I try to meet them where they are and, hopefully, teach them to more e-literate?”

Lauren Zucker, a Ph.D. candidate in the CLAIR program and a high school English teacher in New Jersey, finds the DLC a supportive community. “It’s important to step away from my own classroom in order to think through my teaching philosophy with colleagues from outside my place of work,” said Zucker. “The demo nights and teaching demonstrations at the DLC conference always provide me with classroom-ready ideas to implement in my own classes.”

The DLC is developing a badge system that documents members’ participation such as conference attendance and presentation. Members also get an opportunity to become a teacher leader by taking part in a year-long study group, prepare and present teaching demonstration and mentor other DLC members.

The complete DLC calendar for the 2016-2017 academic year is available on DLC’s website at digitalliteraciescollaborative.wordpress.com. Contact Dr. Kristen Hawley Turner at krturner@fordham.edu for further questions. You can also follow the DLC on Twitter #FordhamDLC.

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