In today’s digital age, although the concept of digital literacy is clear, teaching and using technologies in an educational setting can be challenging. Plus, even if students are already comfortable using a broad range of digital tools, that doesn’t mean they’d know how to use them for learning purposes, just like how students would get skills assessments and recognition prior to learning to see where they stand academically.
However, since digital literacy is one of those ‘buzzwords’ that often get thrown out of context, it can be challenging to envision what it means to be ‘digitally literate.’
That said, here are the best ways you can teach digital literacy.
Emphasise the Importance of Critical Thinking
The majority of media people consume today comes from different online sources, some of which are more reliable than others. That’s because so much information is already readily available on the internet. However, this means that students today are also more prone to misinformation, fake news, and subliminal messages. That’s why it’s best to teach students to ask questions and find answers by going directly to the sources and check for objectivity.
Use Social Media for Learning and Collaborating
Modern students are already typically active on social media, and in some cases, they’re already more adept at using it than their teachers and other adults. That’s why when teaching digital literacy, you shouldn’t focus on introducing students to the ins and outs of social media but show them how they can use it in an educational context. For instance, you can teach students to use Pinterest boards to provide and receive feedback during group projects, use Twitter for polls for research purposes, and Facebook and LinkedIn to connect and collaborate with peers.
Guide Them to Avoid Plagiarism
Because the internet has millions of daily users, it hasn’t made dealing with plagiarism easier. It has changed how it happens, leaving students at the risk of plagiarising content without even knowing that they’re doing it. A study has discovered that many students don’t understand plagiarism, but many want to learn more about it and avoid it. For instance, students often borrow ideas and use phrases they find online without crediting and citing the original work, without even knowing what they’re doing constitutes plagiarism.
That’s why another important aspect of digital literacy is learning how to avoid plagiarism. You can do this by teaching students how to take notes, use citations and quotes, and support discussions with references.
Teach Them to Manage Their Online Identity
Regardless if you consciously manage it or not, everyone leaves a digital footprint and has some form of an online identity. Students who have grown up with social media are likely to take it for granted to have their data and personal information stored online, leaving many not giving much thought to safeguarding their privacy. Plus, having a negative online identity can have adverse effects on an individual’s reputation, which could later affect a student’s career prospects.
That’s why you should teach students how to share the right information and content and which ones to keep to themselves to safeguard their data and reputation.
Manage and Deal with Digital Distractions
Digital tools and online resources have efficiently made learning and teaching more efficient in several ways. However, they’ve also brought new distractions with them—and studies have proven that many people struggle with digital distraction. Digital distraction can make an individual feel distant and drained, reducing the enjoyment of online experiences. Simultaneously juggling several media streams can lead students to multi-task, which can negatively impact their grades.
That’s why the ability to manage distractions while using digital tools for learning and professional purposes is a digital literacy skill that you shouldn’t overlook. Some of the distraction management methods you can teach students ranges from tech breaks throughout the day and muting notifications while studying.
Offer Authentic Contexts for Practice
A crucial aspect of teaching digital literacy is finding ways for students to practice using technology in different ways mirroring its real-world uses. These include offering students opportunities to practice building their websites and mobile applications or respectfully engaging in online discussions. For instance, when teaching about the importance of managing their online identities, you can let them search online to see what potential employers would see and follow this up by discussing their findings.
Giving the students the freedom of choice and encouraging them to use technology in innovative ways can help them excel and adapt once entering the workforce—and the tips mentioned can help you teach them more about digital literacy seamlessly.