This project began as a way to increase the awareness of children supported by one of these charities of the role digital literacy can play in enhancing their futures. The first initiative was a “digital experience day” in which pupils enjoyed time at the university exploring what they could learn and achieve both on campus and online. However, a standalone digital experience day was felt to be insufficient; further ways were sought to empower pupils in an ongoing way through personalised digital learning and expression.
Social media and other digital environments can offer authentic opportunities for self-exploration and identify development over and above those of the traditional classroom (Bransford et al., 2000). The charity decided to try to use digital tools and literacy as an aspect of their development work with their pupils. E-portfolios were therefore offered as a tool enabling not only a space for the children to demonstrate and develop their digital skills but also for the charity to offer a more continuous provision of their work with the children between the funded face-to-face events. Other aspects of digital literacy and personal development were explored, such as online entrepreneurialism and the tension between the learning and commercial benefits of social media and the potential dangers and privacy issues (Beetham, 2015). The goal is that these pupils will discern how to digitally create, communicate, and navigate to enable self-efficacy (Bandura, 1997) and aspiration (Finn, 1997) for future success.
Critical to the success of this was work was the training of the mentors, young people themselves, chosen to be from similar backgrounds. Role models are associated with many benefits such as increased self-perception of being prepared for future education and work roles (Schlosser et al., 2003). Empowering these mentors and seeing the way they tutor one another has provided them too with new opportunities to show their skills and develop their careers. The work is ongoing.
Bandura, A. (1997) Self-efficacy: The exercise of control, New York, W. H. Freeman.
Beetham, H. (2015) ‘Revisiting digital capability for 2015 | Jisc digital capability codesign challenge blog’, Jisc digital capability codesign challenge blog, [online] Available from: https://digitalcapability.jiscinvolve.org/wp/2015/06/11/revisiting-digital-capability-for-2015/ (Accessed 30 March 2016).
Bransford, J., Brown, A. L. and Cocking, R. R. (2000) How people learn: Brain, mind, exprerience and school, How People Learn Brain Mind Experience and School.
Finn, J. D. and R. D. A. (1997) ‘Academic success among students at risk for school failure’, 82(2), [online] Available from: http://0-search.ebscohost.com.oasis.lib.tamuk.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=epref&AN=JAP.HB.BBA.FINN.ASASRS&site=ehost-live.
Schlosser, L. Z., Knox, S., Moskovitz, A. R. and Hill, C. E. (2003) ‘A qualitative examination of graduate advising relationships: the advisee perspective’, Journal of Counseling Psychology, 50, pp. 178–188.