The American Library Association (ALA) defines digital literacy as “the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.” Why is digital literacy so important? Today’s students are looking to the internet as a key source of information. Renaissance states that students who are digitally literate know how to find and consume digital content and they know how to create, communicate, and share digital content. Understanding digital literacy is critical in today’s society as our world encompasses a wide range of “new” technology all of the time.
I am in currently enrolled in Elementary program. I would ideally like to teach any grade from K-6. I think digital literacy in an Elementary classroom is going to look a lot different than digital literacy in a high school classroom. Although, younger students may not have cellphones they are still using computers, Chromebooks, iPads, YouTube, Raz-Kids, Mathletics, and the list goes on. I think students need to be introduced to the importance of internet safety and “fake news” as young as Kindergarten. The EdCan Network states “Teachers therefore play a crucial role in ensuring that their students develop the skills to decipher the many streams of information available to them.”
Fake News is a type of hoax or deliberate spread of misinformation with the internet to mislead in order to gain financially or politically. It is important to understand that fake news is not a new phenomenon. It is imperative to teach students now because fake news is easy to create, it gets around quickly, and it is seen often in our 24/7 news cycle. Students need to be aware that not everything they see online is true.
- A growing decline in trust of the media and government
- people can now create content unburdened by the layers of editing and fact-checking that news organisations adhere to
- content is aggregated into a single “news” feed – mixing updates from friends and family with identical-looking links to stories across the web
- lower attention spans
- fake news stories appeal to our emotions
- proliferation of internet bots
- Move beyond traditional – and often ineffective – information evaluation checklists
- Prioritize helping students develop investigative techniques
- Teach students to identify bias
- Bring real – world fake news examples that we encounter everyday into the classroom
Helping Students Identify Fake News with the Five C’s of Critical Consuming is another resource that you could show to your students. It is a quick and powerful video on explaining fake news. The five C’s are:
- Context (When was it written and where did it come from)
- Credibility (Does the author cite credible sources)
- Construction (What is the bias and is there any propaganda)
- Corroboration (Make sure it is not the only source making this claim)
- Compare (Compare to other news sources and find other sources)
Digital literacy relates to the Saskatchewan Curriculum in many subject areas. Primarily in English Language Arts, as students are often using technology to find information. Students are constantly learning. Digital literacy connects to nearly all subject areas. Science, maybe you are learning about animals and their habits, or in health perhaps students are learning about nutrition, social maybe you are looking up Canada’s symbols, in P.E perhaps you are doing a warm up “Just Dance“. It doesn’t matter what subject area, digital literacy can exist in each one. Students are always around technology. The best way to teach this in the class is to be honest with your students. Make them aware of the internet and show them how to use it safely. Provide fake news and see if they can distinguish why it is fake. Teach them internet safety.
In an article written by the NCTE students used e-portfolios, digital media, the blackboard, digital storytelling, mobile devices to assist them in learning that delivering inaccurate information is dangerous. You could incorporate these into the classroom through presentations, blogs, reports, and discussion forums.
It is essential that students learn the importance of digital literacy, but is is more essential that they know how to engage in using it safely.