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This course came about from my 20+ years of teaching and supporting instructors who run into invisible barriers to adopting educational tools to help facilitate learning in their classrooms. I was asking myself why some instructors were open to trying new educational tools while others were reluctant. Through conversation, I found that the invisible barriers existed in the mindset, or the “can-do” attitude, towards educational tools, which can stem from cognitive biases. Therefore, we will look at cognitive biases that can negatively affect our mindset and impede progress towards becoming digitally fluent. In other words, we have to reflect on our own mindset before we can break down those barriers and advance our current level of digital literacy to become digitally fluent and adaptive with technology in hybrid and online classrooms. 

A study from the University of Oslo’s Department of Teacher Education and School Research discuss “information and Communication Technology” (or ICT), which I refer to as  “educational tools”, and found that,

“self-efficacy beliefs regarding ICT instruction, as research in self-efficacy in other domains has demonstrated, are likely to influence the effort they invest in planning for and delivering ICT instruction, their persistence with students who struggle and their resilience in the face of the inevitable snafus and breakdowns that accompany any pedagogical innovation, and even more so an innovation involving the use of technology.” (Hatlevik & Hatlevik, 2018, p. 2)

In other words, all instructors experience challenges with educational tools in their classroom, but it is how these challenges can affect our progress towards digital fluency. Maintaining a positive can-do mindset, or self-efficacy with these tools can lead to digital fluency.

Also be aware that “educational technology encourages the development of stress and anxiety in teachers…[T]here has been a lack of studies that analyze the different strategies to control these feelings among teachers, feelings that can have an impact on the exhaustion of their students.” (Fernández-Batanero, Román-Graván, Reyes-Rebollo, & Montenegro-Rueda, 2021, p. 10). The researchers also mention that the use of educational tools can cause an “increase in anxiety and stress levels, as well as symptoms of exhaustion or depression in teachers, results that are consistent with numerous other studies” (2021, p. 10). Comfort levels with using educational technology vary greatly between instructors so take small steps towards your goals of becoming digitally fluent. But, do take those steps.

Why is it so important now to improve your digital literacy? The return to campus has demanded more flexibility in the way courses are offered to students. An article from ContactNorth mentions that, “Technology, whether synchronous technologies for audio, or videoconferencing, or asynchronous technologies for anywhere, anytime learning, can support the work of teachers in enabling learning.” (ContactNorth, 2020). Many courses are being offered in a hybrid format while others are being delivered in the hyflex format. Both formats require a high degree of comfort with technology to adjust to the way courses are being offered. Using educational tools can make it possible for students to enjoy a similar learning experience whether online or face-to-face and improving your digital literacy will help you achieve these classroom learning experiences.

This FLO course looks at how our cognitive biases might negatively affect our digitally literacy and how we as instructors can recognize these biases so we can better manage and overcome them. When we do that, we can improve our level of openness to seek out, assess, and adopt educational tools in the hybrid and online classroom that can help facilitate learning.