January 23, 2014
ESL Teacher Electracy: A Shift from Flat to Digital Teaching
and learning have changed in the 21st century. With new technology
adoptions and their ever-growing and ever-changing landscape,
ESL teachers need to be prepared for these teaching and learning
environments. Teachers need to transition from flat environments
to digital teaching and learning, which provide a necessary
skill set development by ESL teachers in electracy.
is computer literacy. In a study titled Computer literacy levels
of teachers, Necdet Konan says, "Electracy describes the
kind of 'literacy' or skill and facility necessary to exploit
the full communicative potential of new electronic media such
as multimedia, hypermedia, social software and virtual worlds."
another study titled The Electracy Model of Teaching and Learning,
Jace Hargis and Gordon Rakita states, "Electracy is in
many ways a fusion of the oral and literate modes of teaching
provides an inquiry environment for teaching and learning. It
also provides a format for students to engage in multimodal
learning, hands-on learning, investigation and self-reflection.
Electracy provides a means for students to become multimodal
active learners rather than flat passive learners.
paradigm shift from the 3 R's to the 4 C's
classrooms have moved from the traditional brick walls to connectedness
in digital learning, or electracy. Digital learning provides
multimodal learning opportunities, compared to the flat, traditional
way of learning encouraging the 3 R's reading, writing
and arithmetic. But the 3 Rs are not the only essential
skills now needed.
now also need the 4 C's. These 21st century essential skills
of learning and innovation include the following skills sets:
critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity.
thinking includes skills used in electracy such as: synthesizing,
analyzing, interpreting and reflecting. Communication also involves
electracy skills as well as ESL skills such as linguistic and
cultural competence. The inclusion of these learning and innovation
skills for students demonstrates the critical need for ESL teachers
to become versed in digital literacy, electracy.
development and technology standards
teachers must keep up to pace with these essential skills and
technology integrations in teaching and learning. Those who
do not have electracy abilities will lag behind those who do.
teachers need to have the skills necessary to teach and provide
multimodal learning experiences for students. Flat teaching
alone cannot support ESL students' learning needs, which are
interactive, collaborative, engaging, creative and fluid learning
experiences. Teaching through digital technology or through
the hybridization of the flat and multimodal teaching technologies
provides ESL students with their needed 21st century learning
of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. developed a
TESOL Technology Standards Framework with technology standards
for teachers and students. All ESL teachers should be trained
and proficient in at least the basic technological standards
in this framework.
is understood that sometimes there is not equal access to technology
in ESL student home environments and in school environments.
These standards provide examples for student and teacher digital
literacy development even in learning environments that have
minimal access to technology.
districts and institutions should ensure that they provide adequate
training experiences for ESL teachers. The TESOL Technology
Standards Framework addresses the need for effective teacher
training and professional development with the pedagogical uses
for technology. Trainings can utilize the TESOL Technology Standards
and/or the ISTE Standards as guides for effective offerings.
the study titled Web-text: Perceptions of digital reading skills
in the ESL classroom, Wendy Sutherland-Smith states, "The
Web requires rethinking our approach to literacy practice and
offers us, as teachers, an opportunity to be active in evolving
notions of literacy embracing new technologies." This means
ESL teachers need to learn the technologies and how to effectively
use them for engaging students in literacy development of multimodal
do ESL teachers need electracy skills?
teachers need electracy skills because learning through digital
technology engages students in active discussions, collaboration,
presentation and learning. New formats of electracy are providing
more opportunities for students to engage in synchronous learning
(collaborative, communicative and in real-time). This is the
mobile learning and connectedness of fluid on-going learning
the Common Core State Standards has recently been adopted in
45 of the 50 states in the United States. A requirement under
these standards for all students, including ESL, is that they
must have proficiency in digital literacy (electracy). Not only
that, but all students will receive testing using digital assessments.
and Smarter Balanced Assessments are implementing these digital
assessments by 2015. For these reasons it is imperative that
ESL teachers have electracy.
digital literacy skills students should know for these assessments
fundamental computer skills (e.g., computer vocabulary,
Web browsing and hardware/software)
keyboarding and word processing (e.g, formatting, editing
creating and analyzing charts and graphs (e.g., create
and format spreadsheets and graphs)
communicating and presenting information using digital
tools (e.g., presentations, effects and hyperlinks)
conducting online research and evaluation (e.g., search
key words and evaluate the validity of information)
skills represented in Common Core show the current paradigm
shift from flat teaching and learning to multimodal teaching
Core has posed a problem for many school districts and educators.
They are not ready to implement Common Core because of existing
infrastructure problems, older existing curriculum and standards
and the like. Added to this is the increasing demand of teacher
requirements with little time to learn and plan to teach using
this reason, electracy skills development should be woven into
professional development options and curriculum adoptions. Teachers
should learn how to get students to use metacognition skills,
to think about thinking, to analyze, ask questions and draw
meaning on technology and communication.
although students may not have access to computers at home and
restricted access at school, teachers should use available technologies
for teaching and learning in whatever avenues the technologies
can be used for.
Hicks and Kristen Hawley Turner paint a portrait of this in
No Longer a Luxury: Digital Literacy Can't Wait. They highlight
ways teachers should integrate technology and ways that the
ill usage of technology can actually disengage students. Teachers
need to learn how to implement technology effectively for effective
student engagement. ESL teachers cannot expect these skills
from students if teachers themselves do not have the skills.
teacher electracy training ideas
for Life: ESL Literacy Curriculum Framework by Bow Valley College
lists recommendations for teaching ESL students computer literacy
skills. The framework suggests ways to build ESL student computer
literacy. Although this framework is directed toward ESL students,
the same computer literacy framework should apply to teachers.
All teachers should be trained in computer/technology literacy
and how to use such technologies to modify and adapt curriculum
for ESL student learning.
computer literacy questionnaire at the bottom of the article
Computer Literacy and Competency: A Survey of Indonesian of
Teachers of English as a Foreign Language, by Jeong-Bae Son,
has excellent ideas for surveying teachers about their computer
knowledge and skills. This article and questionnaire is directed
toward Indonesian teachers; however the questionnaire can be
applicable to all ESL teachers everywhere.
development is in a sense language literacy development. ESL
teachers are trained and proficient in teaching non-native English
speakers how to speak an additional language. ESL teacher electracy
development can be viewed relatively in the same overall development
process as second language acquisition: exposure, presentation
(teaching), application, practice and assessment.
skills and digital literacy do not develop overnight. Lack of
exposure, training and reinforcement of the skills results in
a teacher's inability to be proficient in the language of electracy.
If ESL teachers do not speak "electracy," they cannot
use electracy for teaching and learning.
teachers should learn the language through the same principles
as ESL acquisition. Teachers need to gain exposure through training.
Schools districts and institutions need to teach the skills
to teachers. It should not be assumed that all ESL teachers
are versed in electracy. Although there are plenty of teachers
who have the skills, there are others who do not.
Lotherington and Jennifer Jenson authors of Teaching Multimodal
and Digital Literacy in L2Settings: New Literacies, New Basics,
New Pedagogies state that, "Multimodal learning supports
collaborative authorship, including the search for, creation
and layering of modes that parallel, extend and expand textual
production, bringing L2 learners together in pursuit of communicative
objectives and supporting contextualized acquisition of coded
target language forms."
provide details to pedagogical projects that utilize different
multimodal teaching and learning experiences in ESL. These ideas
could act as a basis for creating effective professional development
opportunities for ESL teachers to learn electracy skills to
use in their classrooms.
Beach and Frank W. Baker in Why Core Standards Must Embrace
Digital Literacy say that having electracy proficiency means
"having the ability to access and assess online information,
share knowledge, connect texts, collaborate with others, build
networks, create and remix multimodal texts, and participate
in online simulations or games."
essential learning skills shift from the 3 R's to the 4 C's
along with fast adoption of student digital literacy skills
such as in Common Core, makes it imperative for ESL teachers
to minimally gain basic proficiency in electracy.