Next week we will be doing a couple of sessions at the PATINS State Conference in Indianapolis, IN. One of those sessions is on Helping Digital Natives Become Digitally Literate. By digitally literate, we mean being able to effectively use technology to find, organize, evaluate and create information. Thankfully, having access to technology is not nearly as much of a problem as it used to be. In fact, I would argue that in many situations we have the opposite problem… Many students wake up next to a phone where they check their social media account first thing. At school, questions are answered with a Google search instead of critical thinking, and in the evenings conversations take place via text messaging.
While these Digital Natives may understand how to operate technology quite well, they many times lack skills on how to use it appropriately in the classroom. The session we are doing next week will focus on the following four components that educators should focus on when helping students become more digitally literate.
Finding Information – Most information students use comes from the first page of Google results. While Google is great, there are more ways to use it than just conducting a simple search. There are also alternatives to Google that are great for students.
Organizing Information – Type “the origins of bluegrass music” in Google and you will receive 114,000 results in half a second. Type in “black bear” and you will have 404 million. Having access to information is just the beginning. Making sense out of it is the tough part.
Evaluating Information – All educators talk about the importance of credible information. But how many conduct a lesson on how to tell if a website is credible? How many actually know how to tell if a website is credible? This is not a knock on educators. There was never a pre-service class on this because it was a non-issue only a few years ago. But now it is one of the most important skills students should possess.
Creating Information – Gone are the days when all knowledge must be demonstrated by a quiz or written report. While these methods still have their place in a classroom, now an almost unlimited number of free and low cost resources exist for students to use to create meaningful work. We’ve listed a few ideas in posts such as 3 Presentation Apps for the iPad and Word Clouds in Education, but these posts only scratch the surface of what’s available. Understanding how to combine the pieces above to create presentations, slideshows, eBooks and more to demonstrate knowledge is what being digitally literate is all about.
This post will hopefully give readers a model to use when teaching digital literacy. Just as important however is learning about technology that fits within each component, and strategies to make implementing it successful. We will be rolling out more posts on these topics in the coming weeks.