Digital literacy is a popular issue these days, and we’ve previously written about how important it is for today’s kids, as well as what instructors need to know about assisting students in efficiently using technology to better contemporary communication.
However, although the need for digital literacy is obvious, actually teaching and utilizing technology in school contexts may be challenging. Of fact, most students are already familiar with a variety of digital tools, but this does not always imply that they understand how to utilize these same resources for learning reasons.
Dr. Kristin Bertolero of the New Jersey Coalition for Inclusive Education (NJCIE) is an inclusion facilitator who regularly works with educators who require advice on how to teach pupils different types of digital literacy. She observes that since technology is not intuitive and must be understood and practiced, the path to mastery is fraught with trial and error.
“It’s simpler [for instructors] to utilize pre-made pencil and paper materials that they know will match the assignment criteria and receive a decent mark,” Bertolero adds.
“However, exposure to technology, chances for problem-solving, and trial and error are what make someone a technology expert.” If we can encourage pupils to acquire these talents at an early age, they will continue to learn as the area advances, and their job options will skyrocket.”
She emphasizes that technology should not be used in place of conventional learning activities since, although it may keep kids interested, it does not help them build 21st-century problem-solving abilities. Instead, children should be allowed to solve issues and be creative with technology. Then, since they like learning and being challenged, employing technology in their industry will be a natural extension of their enthusiasm.
“Even if your kids do not pursue careers in technology, being able to utilize it and continuing their self-directed learning might help them in ways we cannot now anticipate,” she adds.
Unfortunately, since digital literacy is still one of those terms that are flung about without context, it may be difficult to imagine what it means to be digitally literate. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of instances of digital literacy in schooling.
1. Stress the significance of critical thinking.
The bulk of the material we consume now comes from internet sources, some more reliable than others. Of course, the fact that so much knowledge is so easily accessible to anybody with an internet connection is a definite plus. However, this implies that today’s pupils are more vulnerable to subliminal messaging, disinformation, and false news.
With this in mind, a large part of teaching digital literacy is assisting kids in becoming critical information consumers. Begin by encouraging kids to ask questions, and then seek answers by going directly to the source and ensuring neutrality.
2. Make use of social media to learn and collaborate.
Students nowadays are already engaged on social media, and in many situations, they may be more proficient than their professors. As a result, rather than exposing students to the ins and outs of social media, the emphasis should be on showing how it may be utilized in an educational environment.
Pinterest boards, for example, may be used to provide and receive input during group projects, Twitter can be used to make polls for research purposes or identify expert sources, and Facebook or LinkedIn groups can be used to connect and interact with peers.
3. Advise on how to prevent plagiarism.
Although the Internet has not made plagiarism simpler, it has altered the manner it occurs, and students may now be in danger of plagiarizing even when they do not want to. According to a survey published in the journal Higher Education, many students do not comprehend plagiarism but would want more knowledge on what it is and how to prevent it.
Students, for example, often ‘steal’ ideas or phrases from the internet without properly attributing the source work, and are subsequently astonished to realize that this constitutes plagiarism. So understanding how to prevent plagiarism by taking excellent notes, utilizing cites and quotations, and properly supporting a debate with references is another key component of being digitally literate.
4. Instruct pupils on how to handle their online identities.
We all leave a digital footprint and have an online identity, whether we are aware of it or not. Students who have grown up using social media are more likely to take it for granted that their data is stored online, and as a result, they may not give as much thought to protect their privacy by managing their privacy settings, reading privacy policies, and acting as respectfully online as they would in person.
However, just as not maintaining an online persona may have bad consequences, taking measures to develop a favorable one can be very useful to students’ employment prospects. With this in mind, learning how to protect one’s privacy online while also sharing relevant information and content is a critical component of a well-rounded digital literacy education.
5. Assist students in managing digital distractions
Digital tools and online resources have improved learning in many ways, but they have also introduced new distractions. According to research, many of us struggle with digital distraction, which can cause us to feel distant and drained, as well as reduce our enjoyment of experiences. Juggling multiple media streams can also lead to students’ multitasking, which is not a good thing because research shows that multitasking students have lower grades.
Another digital literacy skill that should not be overlooked is the ability to manage distractions while using digital tools for learning and professional purposes. Taking tech breaks throughout the day, muting notifications while studying, using productivity tools, and setting goals for technology use are some examples of distraction-management strategies.
7. Provide realistic situations for practice
Another important part of teaching digital literacy is finding ways for students to practice using technology in ways that mirror its real world uses, whether this means giving students opportunities to practice building their own websites and apps, or respectfully engage in online discussions.
For example, while educating kids about the essentials of controlling their online identity, you may engaginghem investigate themselves online to find out what a future employer would see. You might follow this up with a conversation about their discoveries, and have them write some of the things they were proud of as well as some of the things they’d want to improve.
7. Guide kids out of their comfort zone
We all have a comfort zone when it comes to technology, but if we want kids to become inventive and well-rounded users of technology, it’s crucial to steer them out of their comfort zone whenever feasible. Of course, this will imply something different for each kid.
For example, some students may already be adept at communicating in short and distinct paragraphs and hashtags on Twitter or Instagram, so moving out of their comfort zone might mean sharing their opinion through a more in-depth blog post. In other circumstances, students could already have experience with blogging, in which case they would be interested in attempting something a little more out-of-the-box such as video diaries or podcasts.
Whatever the case may be, giving students more freedom of choice and encouraging them to use technology in new and creative ways is one of the best ways to help them hit the ground running once they enter the workforce.
What does digital literacy mean to you, and how are you currently working to help your students develop their digital literacy skills? Please let us know by leaving a comment.