David Baroody, a member of the middle school English department since 2019, was selected to join a 12-person UNH research team that spent a year studying digital literacies teaching and learning in NH. Dubbed TILDE, an acronym for “transformational inquiry in literacy for digital environments,” the project was sponsored by UNH’s Collaborative Research Excellence Initiative
. Digital literacies are abilities to navigate, make meaning from, critique and compose digital content. According to the TILDE Summary of Findings
, “For students to be prepared for 21st-century life, education systems must ensure that students and teachers develop these literacies. When COVID-19 moved learning online, it upended educational practices.”
During the project, survey data was collected from 97 kindergarten-16 educators from six demographically different academic sites and three focus groups were held in three demographically different school districts. Based on their findings, the TILDE group made the following recommendations.
“Schools responded as best they could in the face of emergency teaching, but teaching digital literacies skills and content—complex abilities that will prepare New Hampshire students for college and careers—requires professional learning for practicing teachers and changes in educator preparation. Teachers are well-positioned to understand students’ content area needs and knowledge, but they need professional learning that provides reflective time to consider digital tools, theoretical and pedagogical research on digital literacies, and sociotechnical practices for classroom spaces (Silva & Magnifico, 2021).”
Baroody, whom UNH professors Bethany Silva and Alecia Magnifico called “invaluable to the project,” co-wrote a blog post on digital literacies homographs
. In reflecting on his experience on the TILDE team Baroody noted,
“Beyond the great body of data we were able to collect, analyze, and write about, the composition and organization of this research group - teachers, leaders, and academic researchers from across New Hampshire - was a unique opportunity. Acting in my role as a practitioner, I leant an important and valued perspective, that of the classroom teacher, to the group, and my voice, and the voices of all the members, was elevated and valued equally.
One of our takeaways from this research was that digital literacies have to be explicitly embedded within existing curricula and instruction. To that end, I am more overtly teaching means and behaviors to access and interact in digital spaces, using pre-existing components of lessons to augment with additional instructional activities to teach digital literacies. This might be as simple as pausing to explain visual design components and color choice as students prepare a digital slideshow, using professional examples to tease out the format of the structure of design so that students can apply these elements to their own production.”