“Digital literacy” is one of the most discussed terms in the internet world. Recently, we wrote about digital literacy, its importance, and its challenges. Students living in the digital age must understand the term and learn how to act responsibly over the Internet. Given the importance it holds for students, we think no one can better teach digital literacy than teachers.
The need for digital literacy is quite clear, and to help teachers make their students digitally literate, we have compiled a list of the best tools, resources, and practices.
Tools and Resources to Teach Digital Literacy
Teachers seeking to incorporate digital literacy into their curriculum should create a study plan that defines desired student competencies and suitable grade-level content. Teachers must ensure that their digital lesson is tailored to each student.
There are various digital literacy teaching and learning resources that teachers should look into as they construct their strategies and lesson plans. Some of these tools and resources are:
Common Sense Education is a nonprofit education organization that has a huge array of digital literacy resources to help teachers teach digital citizenship and online safety. These resources include videos, activities, printables, and more, all targeted at helping educators better integrate various digital tools and technology in the classroom.
Google offers a range of tools and resources for educators to help them teach digital literacy to their students. The tools include Google Classroom, Google Drive, Google Docs, and Google Forms. There is an extensive collection of lessons that is organized into different sections, each covering various aspects of digital literacy. The section dedicated to online safety and digital well-being includes lessons on developing healthy digital habits, responsible blogging, recognizing online scams, addressing cyberbullying, understanding digital footprints, and more. Another section focuses on content for educators around teaching children how to use Google tools and how teachers can engage learners. It includes lessons on how to create Google slides and presentations, effectively engage learners in discussions, design posters and badges, and share their work online using Google Classroom and integrated tools. Additionally, there are more sections that provide lessons on creating digital postcards and photo journals using Google Docs and Google Workspace tools to enhance productivity and collaboration in academic, professional, and personal settings.
Microsoft’s Digital Literacy Curriculum offers free online introductory courses to equip teachers and students with essential media and digital literacy skills. It covers topics around computer basics, safe internet usage and provides resources for teachers to implement the curriculum’s key learnings in their classrooms. It helps learn the fundamentals of using digital technologies through two LinkedIn Learning courses: Working with Computers and Working and Collaborating Online.
Furthermore, it offers resources, including LMS-friendly SCORM packages, lesson guides, transcripts, videos, and closed caption files in languages such as Arabic, Spanish, Japanese, English, Bulgarian, and more.
Nearpod is an interactive learning platform that allows teachers to create and share interactive lessons with their students. It includes a range of digital literacy resources, including lessons, videos, and activities.
Code.org is a non-profit organization that provides free coding lessons and resources for teachers to teach digital literacy skills. In collaboration with Common Sense Media, Code.org has a lesson that helps students learn to think critically about the user information that some websites request or require. They get to learn the difference between private information and personal information and be able to distinguish what is safe and unsafe to share online. Thus, learn how to be good digital citizens.
Scratch is a free programming language and online community where teachers can create and share interactive stories, games, and animations to help students learn coding and digital literacy skills. It comprises various resources under the projects and studios section.
Adobe Creative Cloud for Education provides creative tools, including Photoshop, Illustrator, and Premiere Pro, to help teachers teach digital literacy skills in media production and graphic design.
Diigo, which stands for “Digest for Internet Information, Groups, and Other stuff,” has been a longtime favourite among educators of all varieties because of its broad aim. Diigo is an excellent tool for working on synchronous or asynchronous collaboration; it’s simple to see groups using the comments functionality to critically evaluate their resources and the outline function for group writing and research.
With highlighted passages, margin notes, and sticky notes to help you remember and navigate the most crucial information, Diigo functions similarly to a bookshelf of your favorite books. Teachers and students may use it collaboratively to gather online resources, annotate websites, add comments to the contents, and arrange ideas from many sources. It is a social bookmarking and annotation tool.
The platform offers links to digital literacy assessments and self-assessment tools in its assessment section.
There are lesson plans, videos, online platforms, and curricular resources available to assist educators in incorporating digital media literacy education into the curriculum.
This lesson allows kids to understand digital literacy in the most exciting way possible. The lesson comes with videos and templates for learners of every grade and learning ability. Learners can use pre-made Seesaw activities or Google Slideshows to learn more. The goal behind curating this lesson is to engage students, set goals, and assess their skills.
This is a white paper on the digital and media literacy recommendations of the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy. It offers a plan of action for how to bring digital and media literacy education into formal and informal settings through a community education movement.
MediaSmarts, although primarily aimed at Canadian educators, offers the “Use, Understand, and Engage” digital literacy framework. It provides valuable digital literacy resources for teachers worldwide, covering topics such as media literacy, misinformation, ethics, empathy, and more for implementing digital literacy principles in the classroom. The MediaSmarts resources are evidence-based and are tailored for different age groups and grades.
Carnegie Cyber Academy is an online resource for teachers to enhance their digital literacy activities. Through its training, students learn important online safety practices by completing engaging and interactive missions. They “graduate” after successfully completing each mission. These missions cover agendas like spam emails, personal information sharing, cyberbullying, etc., and help students develop skills and be safe in the digital environment.
Cornell University has a variety of digital literacy resources that provide teachers with information regarding privacy and the Internet, copyright resources, and a research guide for students.
Practices to Teach Digital Literacy:
Foster Critical Thinking Skills in Students
With the abundance of online sources, it is important to teach students to become discerning information consumers. While the accessibility of information is a boon, it also exposes students to subliminal messages, false information, and propaganda. Thus, developing digital literacy in students requires teaching them to become critical thinkers. The first step is to instill a habit of questioning and verifying sources. Encourage students to seek information from reputable sources and assess it objectively.
Use social media for learning and collaborating
Many of today’s students are already proficient social media users, surpassing their teachers in some cases. Rather than teaching them how to use social media, educators should focus on demonstrating its educational applications. For instance, Pinterest boards can facilitate feedback exchange during group projects, while Twitter can create polls and locate expert sources for research purposes. Facebook or LinkedIn groups can also enable students to network and collaborate with their peers.
Read this article: Making the Most of Social Media: Tips for School Leaders
Guide Students on How to Avoid Plagiarism
The Internet has not necessarily made plagiarism more prevalent but has changed how it occurs. As a result, students may unintentionally engage in plagiarism without realizing it. According to a study published in Higher Education, many students lack an understanding of plagiarism but are keen to learn how to avoid it. For instance, students may borrow ideas or use phrases they find online without acknowledging the source, only to discover later that it qualifies as plagiarism. Therefore, becoming digitally literate also involves mastering strategies to avoid plagiarism, such as taking good notes, utilizing citations and quotes, and substantiating discussions with references.
Guide Students on Managing their Online Identity
We all create a digital footprint and have an online identity, whether we know it or not. There are possibilities that students who have grown up using social media may take for granted that their personal information is stored online, which could result in them overlooking privacy protection measures such as managing privacy settings, reviewing privacy policies, and being respectful in online interactions. However, not paying attention to the personal details they share can have negative consequences, while taking steps to build a positive one can significantly benefit students’ career prospects. Thus, a comprehensive digital literacy education must encompass safeguarding online privacy and sharing appropriate information and content to cultivate a positive online identity.
Help Students Manage Digital Distractions
While digital tools and online resources have made learning more efficient in many ways, they have also introduced new distractions. Research indicates that digital distractions can cause feelings of detachment and exhaustion and detract from our enjoyment of experiences. Engaging in multitasking is prevalent among students who use multiple media streams simultaneously, which may also lead to poorer academic performance. Therefore, managing distractions while using digital tools for learning and professional purposes is a critical digital literacy skill that deserves attention. Some effective distraction-management strategies include taking tech breaks periodically, muting notifications while studying, employing productivity tools, and setting goals for technology use.
Also, read: Screen Limit Tips for Adult Learners
Provide Authentic Contexts for Practice
To effectively teach digital literacy, providing students with opportunities to practice using technology in ways that reflect its real-world applications is crucial. This could involve creating exercises, encouraging students to build their own websites or apps, or engaging them in respectful online discussions. For instance, when instructing students on the significance of managing their online identity, they could be tasked with researching themselves online to understand what a prospective employer or the world in general might see. Subsequently, a group discussion could be held to review their findings, where students could highlight aspects they are proud of and identify areas they want to improve, helping them learn how to manage their online identity better.
Encourage Students to Step Out of their Comfort Zone
Encouraging students to become well-rounded and innovative technology users necessitates pushing them beyond their comfort zones. This can manifest differently for each student. For instance, students proficient in communicating through short paragraphs and hashtags on Twitter or Instagram could be challenged to share their viewpoints via more comprehensive blog posts, which might be outside their comfort zone. In contrast, students with blogging experience may be encouraged to try unconventional formats like video journals or podcasts.
Considering how pervasive technology is in every part of our lives, it is crucial that teachers give students the knowledge and skills they require to navigate the digital world successfully. Teachers may equip their students to become critical thinkers and responsible online citizens by putting the best tools, resources, and practices into practice. This would help students be better prepared to handle the opportunities and challenges of the digital world and succeed in the years to come with an in-depth digital literacy education.
Recommended Read: Skills Students can Acquire from Google’s Applied Digital Skills Lessons