Digital literacy is a term you’ve probably heard at least once—but do you know what it means? Like any buzzword, it may just seem like another fad. However, digital literacy is critical for your 21st century students.
Why? “Digital literacy is the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.” – Marijke Visser, ALA Connect
More and more colleges and jobs require applicants to have these technology-based skills, both analytical and technical. While it seems as though many students already have an extensive knowledge of how to use technology, most don’t yet know how to use these skills and devices constructively.
Use these tips and ideas to bring digital literacy into your classroom, teaching your students how to make the most of technology, online communication and more.
Weave It Into Lessons and Assignments
Many teachers keep digital literacy from their lessons because they just don’t know where to start. If you’re feeling stuck, consider how you can weave these lessons into your current plans.
Assess Sources: Before the next research project, make time for a lesson on assessing online resources. While students may know to avoid Wikipedia, they might not know that blogs, podcasts and audio books can be great resources—and are easily accessible. Don’t forget to teach them how to use websites like Twitter or Facebook to find reputable sources. The CRAAP Test provides some structure for this.
Collaborate With Others: With the advent and evolution of technology come many opportunities to collaborate with others using a variety of tools such as social media, Google Docs, online forums and more. These collaborative resources engage students in conversation and learning, while providing you with as an opportunity to teach them how to communicate with others effectively using these tools.
Build an Online Presence: Part of digital literacy instruction is teaching students to not only consume what they find online, but to also create and build a positive digital footprint. Teach them how to do this by bringing blogging and online publishing into the classroom. Students can use a blog to submit projects and homework on a regular basis to help build a digital footprint they can be proud of.
Use the Right Apps
Apps and other tech tools help facilitate your digital literacy lessons, subtly teaching students these skills without making it feel like learning. Here are a few awesome tools to bring in your classroom:
Dropbox: This tool, used widely among businesses and teachers alike, gives students experience with uploading documents, sharing files and organizing their digital resources. When students enter higher levels of education and eventually the workplace, they’ll need to have these skills mastered.
Whooo’s Reading: This online tool not only motivates students to read more every day, but it also gives them a chance to interact in a Facebook-like environment without actually using Facebook. Students can access a private, class newsfeed, where they can comment on and “Like” the reading comprehension responses of their peers. Teachers can moderate and interact with students as well, ensuring that they’re being constructive and appropriate with their comments.
ThingLink: This awesome tech tool teaches students how to bring all of their resources together—text, imagery, video and audio—into one cohesive project. With so much information available online, this helps students learn how to prioritize the information and put it together effectively.
Read Current Resources
“The first step to connect your classroom to the world is to connect yourself first.” – Vicki Davis
It’s important that you are in the know about what’s happening in the digital world, how it’s affecting your students, and what you can do to bring the necessary lessons into your classroom. Keep your fingers on the pulse of digital literacy by following current and respected resources. Here are a few to bookmark:
- Digital Literacy.gov
- Digital Literacy (Cornell)
- Microsoft Digital Literacy Curriculum Guide
- Edutopia: Digital Citizenship Channel
- Learn2Earn: EdTech Channel
Bring digital literacy into your classroom and prepare students to excel both in school and in the workplace. Use these tips and tools if you’re not sure where to start, and don’t forget to bookmark reliable resources so you can stay up to date on what’s new and important for your students to learn about.
Bio: Jessica Sanders is the Director of Social Outreach for Learn2Earn, a San Diego-based education organization that offers Read-A-Thon fundraisers and reading motivation tools for teachers and schools. She grew up reading books like The Giver and Holes, and is passionate about making reading as exciting for young kids today as it has always been for her. Follow Learn2Earn on Twitter and Facebook, and check out their new ebook, How to Bring Technology Into the Classroom, just $2.99 on Amazon.com.