Digital literacy is a vital skill for success in today’s world. We need to teach students how to find and evaluate sources, think critically, collaborate with and understand different cultures, and stay safe online. I think some teachers are hesitant to bring technology into the classroom because they don’t understand it, are afraid it will be misused, or worry about privacy and the safety of their students. There are so many dangers online that we want to protect children from, but the best way to do this is to teach them how to navigate the online universe.
Students may know how to use Twitter, Snapchat, or Instagram with their friends, but they don’t know how to communicate or share information in a useful, productive way. As teachers, it is our job to guide students to collaborate, create, share content, and become good digital citizens. The USC Rossier blog post by Leah Anne Levy points out that even using a search engine can involve deep learning when we embed digital literacy skills into the activity. We can ask students to evaluate and question the sources, draw conclusions, and challenge students to create something new using the knowledge they gained.
When we create a lesson that involves technology, we help students become active learners who are creating a product. Technology gives students options on how they want to create content. Students are not limited to writing a book report when they finish reading an assigned novel. They can create a book trailer, write a book review, create a blog written by a character, create a social media profile of a character, use pictures to tell the story, etc. There a variety of options that incorporate multiple learning styles. In the school where I currently work, students are programming video games that take place in the world of their favorite books and other students will be playing the games.
There are many pros and cons to using digital tools in the classroom. It is essential that teachers understand the tools they use and integrate them into lessons. Just placing technology, such as iPads in a classroom, doesn’t mean teachers will know how to use them to enhance learning. Teachers need training in digital literacy in order to teach their students. But when used correctly, digital tools can enhance learning, differentiate for various learning styles, and even give teachers more time to focus on individual students.
USC Rossier Blog