A recent report published by the House of Lords Select Committee on Digital Skills calls for digital literacy, as well as numeracy and literacy, to be taught as a core skills in both primary and secondary schools as “digital skills are now necessary life skills”. However, the report also highlights a lack of teacher training and guidance in how to deliver these necessary skills.
For my PhD I am looking at the different types of internet search tasks that primary children do for their school work, and the types of skills that children need to conduct these tasks. To date my study findings indicate that two types of search tasks are given to primary school children. Firstly, children are asked to search for the answers to specific questions such as 'what is the capital of Germany?' and secondly, they are asked to collect a range of information about a particular topic: 'find out as much as you can about Ancient Greece'. The searches may be conducted in class or may be set as homework.
Findings so far suggest that different skills are required for the different search tasks, and that within the same class there is considerable variation in the children’s level of skill in conducting these tasks. Some children complete simple fact finding and research tasks with ease, yet others struggle.
I hope from the findings of my research to offer teachers guidance on setting children search tasks: outlining what skills are required for which tasks, what children may find difficult, and how to teach children to more effectively find the information they need.