Being able to successfully and productively utilize digital technology is becoming an increasingly important skill in today's workplace. Because of this increase, teaching and encouraging digital literacy within your schools and classrooms is an extremely important component of helping students develop college and career readiness.
Below are five effective methods that can help you, as an educator, enhance student digital literacy inside and outside of the classroom via educational technology and blended learning environments.
Explain what digital literacy actually means to your students
Discuss with your students what it means to be digitally literate. Make sure they are aware that the skill requires them to go beyond just knowing how to use computers and other devices.
It is important for your students to be able to find reliable sources of information, evaluate the quality of those resources, and effectively utilize technology to create and share various types of media and thought. Recognizing potential dangers online, including connecting with strangers, phishing, and hacking is also crucial.
Model proper online skills to your students
Set aside class time to show students how different websites and online resources function and model the proper thought process required when determining the validity of an online source. The modeling process should be ubiquitous for any web-based resource you introduce within the curriculum.
Help students recognize how to quickly and efficiently find the knowledge they are looking for and walk them through valuable resources they can use as a quality benchmark. Also, don't be afraid to show them a few poor resources to help create the distinction between "good and bad".
Additionally, your students can learn proper online skills by interacting with you digitally from home and outside of the classroom. Creating a blog or a community educational page on the web helps students develop an understanding of how the internet can be used productively and proactively. Encourage students to create well-constructed responses to open-ended questions to develop both critical thinking skills and solid digital literacy abilities.
Make use of student devices during lessons
If I had to guess, your students are most likely beyond willing to use their own smartphones, laptops, and tablets within in the classroom. If your school/district supports a BYOD policy, you can take advantage of that desire to create a solid blended learning experience.
By incorporating student-owned devices, your kiddos will be using devices and technology they are already familiar with. This strategy has repeatedly shown increased student focus and engagement. For instance, try having students complete a digital task via their own device (whether it be a game, digital lesson, or other resource) and then administer group/class discussions in which students can talk about what they felt worked well from an online aspect, and what did not.
Assign homework and activities that require the internet and online resources
The more time and effort students allot researching and evaluating information online, the better they will become at selecting reliable, valuable information from trusted authorities and understanding digital functionality. Design assignments that require your students to use critical thinking while interacting with the internet.
Ramping up critical thiking opportunities via online learning can be done in a variety of ways, whether it be through the Flipped Classroom model or other various blended learning environments. Seek out fun and effective learning tools and content resources that allow you to see both achievement and real-time status. After your students complete their online homework/activities, encourage peer evaluation between one another and open class-wide discussion.
Create a virtual classroom experience
Via collaborative online documents and programs, students can take charge by posting notes, photos, or videos of important lesson information and experiences they learned during the classroom and homework activities. A dedicated program/site that is built, editied, and modified by you and your students is a great way to scaffold/reinforce learning while building student digital literacy at the same time.
Try to make use of sites that allow multiple user contributions, like Kidblog, and make participation (commenting on fellow classmates' posts, etc.) a part of your daily lesson plans and overall curriculum. Doing so will help your students develop the ability provide thoughtful and productive feedback to their peers, and even you!
Tell us about your efforts to promote digital literacy
These five points are obviously not comprehensive, and we'd love for you to help us tell the rest of story! What are some of the strategies you have used withiin the classroom? Have you found some strategies that work better than others?
Share your stories and concerns in the comments below or with us on Twitter -- @Wowzers.