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Frequently Asked Questions about Literacy with ICT

Many students are already very comfortable using information and communication technology. Do teachers really need to teach literacy with ICT?

The teacher's role is not to 'teach ICT' but rather to facilitate learning, promote higher level critical and creative thinking through the use of ICT and guide students so they progress along the Developmental Continuum for Literacy with ICT. As citizens born into the digital age, students may find it relatively natural to acquire basic skills with technology, but many may not know how to apply ICT effectively, safely, responsibly and ethically to enhance their learning. Supportive teachers model effective, safe, responsible and ethical use of ICT, assess students as they progress along the continuum and provide opportunities for them to deepen their understanding and knowledge in curricular contexts.

Is the quality of student thinking being raised through use of ICT, or are students just moving from low level thinking using paper and pencil to low level thinking using ICT?

Thinking at higher levels is part of demonstrating literacy with ICT. Increased access to, and volume of, electronic information requires that all citizens in our global community develop skills to locate, evaluate and synthesize relevant information. Using technology to record information or simply to seek large quantities of information does not "raise the cognitive bar". Students need to be challenged to become self-guided, active thinkers and learners. Teachers do this by ensuring that their teaching strategies require students to become engaged in learning at higher levels and in developing deeper understanding.

Which is more important: commitment of school leaders or commitment of teachers to implementing Literacy with ICT Across the Curriculum?

There must be commitment from everyone – division leaders, school leaders and teachers. None of these groups can implement alone. School and Division leaders influence staffing, resources and policies that impact successful implementation. Committed teachers directly impact the success of their students. One must emphasize the importance of school leaders' commitment in supporting and directing the development of literacy with ICT in each school.

What is the first priority in the ongoing implementation of Literacy with ICT: professional learning for teachers or buying more and better ICT? 

As new ICTs are always being developed, access to more and better ICT can always be improved, but teachers with the pedagogical understanding to infuse ICT in the classroom will know how to make the best use of the ICT they already have. There must be a reasonable amount of appropriate and reliable ICT available in the school and in classrooms. There is little point in providing professional learning to teachers to improve their literacy with ICT if they do not have access to the tools. On the other hand, there is little point in having state-of-the-art ICT if few teachers have the pedagogical understanding to use it to enhance learning.

The first step to implementation is developing a plan:
  • Assess the current status of the local infrastructure and the pedagogical and the technical skills of the staff. 
  • Collaboratively define school goals for the ongoing implementation of Literacy with ICT Across the Curriculum.
  • Determine the expenditures and professional learning needed to bridge the gap between where the staff is at and what the staff envisions. Good plans encompass both infrastructure and professional learning. Keep in mind that teachers with more skills and knowledge will require more access to ICT and will seek more professional learning opportunities.
  • Include a plan to provide refresher professional learning opportunities at the local and divisional levels as well as opportunities to do classroom visitations and to attend conferences.
How much ICT is needed to implement Literacy with ICT Across the Curriculum and where should it be placed?

Ideally, each student would have access to ICT and the Internet wherever and whenever needed, to take advantage of the ‘teachable moment’. In any case, ICT should be infused with learning, within curricular context. In the classroom, the need for ICT depends on such variables as the learning strategies, the amount of individual versus collaborative work and the number of students. Collaborate with teachers to determine what you want students to learn and then decide which ICT will support the learning. Decisions on locating the technology should be based on good pedagogy rather than technical convenience. Having computers in the classroom at all times provides just-in-time access and supports a more natural way of learning, but also has implications for budgets, infrastructure and classroom planning.

How do we get school board members to provide ongoing support for implementation of Literacy with ICT?

School boards are interested in the success of students while still managing a responsible budget. Board members can be provided with evidence that expenditures are enabling or enhancing learning. School leaders can showcase what happens in the school so that parents, board members and other teachers can see how the ongoing implementation of literacy with ICT improves critical and creative thinking:

  • Emphasize the connection between classroom use of ICT and the curricular outcomes.
  • Link the value of student learning to the need for infrastructure and professional learning.
  • Provide the board with concrete recommendations regarding the infrastructure and professional learning needed to be successful.

How do we involve parents?

Parents can be involved in LwICT just as they are for other aspects of their child's learning. They may already be volunteering in the classroom or school library. Educate them on the importance and purpose of literacy with ICT. During parent/teacher conferences, make opportunities for students to show their parents evidence of their literacy with ICT. Parents can help students set learning goals. Parents can share their understanding with other parents and community members. Parents can advocate for your school. Support parents as they attempt to improve their own literacy with ICT. Parents can serve as role models for their children in the ethical and responsible use of ICT. Recognize parents for their contributions.

Parents are concerned about Internet content and safety. What steps should be put in place to allow students to exercise their critical thinking online and to alleviate parents' concerns at the same time?

Developing ethics and responsibility is an important part of literacy with ICT. Teachers must guide students as they become increasingly responsible for their own actions in accessing and contributing online information. However, to build critical thinking, students need the opportunity to make choices. In the school context, their choices can be reasonably limited by both teachers and technology solutions (such as content filtering). The choices are also guided as teachers talk about digital citizenship and show students how to make informed searches. The choices and access to information that teachers allow students will be dependent on each student's age and their demonstrated competency within the the continuum. Divisions have policies that clearly outline acceptable use of ICT by students and staff. Ensure parents are informed of the acceptable use policies so that they have the opportunity to model and reinforce these at home.

How can school leaders inspire teachers to enhance teaching and improve student learning through literacy with ICT?

The responsibility for professional growth rests with the teacher, but school leaders must inspire and support teachers. They should provide information about and opportunities for professional learning. Keep in mind that each teacher has a unique learning style and may need customized supports. Some teachers may prefer to work on their own. Other teachers may want a peer coach or mentor. Some teachers may want the big picture while other need to see detailed exemplars before they can begin to visualize strategies being applied in their own classroom.


School leaders are also involved by communicating expectations, allocating resources and arranging time for teachers to work together. Such time can be face-to-face meetings or online learning communities. They can provide learning materials and opportunities for teachers to discover new ideas and new tools. School leaders should encourage staff to take risks and step beyond their comfort zone with technology. When teachers are engaged and supported, both teachers and students benefit.

An effective way for teachers to learn is by watching and talking to other teachers. How can school leaders facilitate this process?

Master teachers, mentor teachers and teacher-librarians share their knowledge and mentor other teachers. It is also a good idea to encourage teachers to work together even if neither teacher considers him/herself an expert. Each will have something to learn from the other and support the other. School leaders can promote this learning by arranging release time for teachers to meet, by making changes to the teaching schedule to accommodate team-teaching or by providing access to technology that allows teachers to connect at different times or across a geographically large area.


Another powerful strategy is to provide release time for teachers, who already infuse ICT successfully, to coach their peers collaboratively, over time, and in their own classrooms. These partners can collaboratively plan learning experiences that infuse ICT with what they are already trying to achieve in a curricular area, they can model or team-teach and they can encourage reflection and provide feedback.

If teachers concentrate on learning as inquiry, will the infusion of ICT follow?

Inquiry has many different labels: problem solving in mathematics, scientific inquiry and information literacy to name a few. All these have certain components in common such as questioning, planning, gathering, producing, communicating and reflecting on evidence of learning. Engaging teachers in examining their current units, resources and classroom learning experiences in the context of inquiry is a good beginning. If teachers start with the familiar and grow from there, they will see how Literacy with ICT reflects learning in all curricular areas through inquiry. The Developmental Continuum for Literacy with ICT can help teachers re-think curricular content, delivery and goals. School leaders can ensure there is continuity within the school from year to year and from class to class. School leaders can encourage the infusion of technology wherever it helps promote good pedagogy and can also encourage teachers to move along their own continuum of literacy with ICT.

Who should be part of my school’s implementation team for Literacy with ICT Across the Curriculum?

Ideally, the entire staff should be involved so that everyone talks the same language and supports each other in the process. As a second option, include some teachers from each grade level and the teacher-librarian. Start with teachers who want to share their knowledge with others. Include teachers who are opinion leaders to help with implementation. These teachers can become mentors or coaches for their peers. School leaders drive action at the school, so their participation on the implementation team is also vital to success.

How do we share electronic portfolios with parents, especially those who may not have access to computers and the Internet at home?

Start with students showing parents their electronic portfolios when parents visit the school. There may be opportunities for the school to provide access to electronic portfolios in the school at specific times such as reporting periods, student-led conferences, or celebration of learning days.

Should an electronic portfolio be kept over multiple years?

Process portfolios can show growth over time as students collect, select, reflect on and celebrate evidence of their learning. Students and teachers will have to be selective, collecting samples that have meaning and show progress. Portfolios are not limited to demonstrating literacy with ICT: they are part of an assessment strategy across curricular areas, encouraging student involvement and a means for students to share their learning with others.