Digital Literacy in the Classroom

According to the University Library at The University of Illinois, digital literacy is defined as the ability to use digital technology, communication tools or networks, to locate, evaluate, use and create information.

For those of us in education, Digital Literacy means being able to use the digital tools available to achieve a desired outcome.  More students than ever have access to some form of digital tool whether it be a cellphone or a computer. These students know how to use these tools.  The key to helping these students gain digital fluency is teaching them how to use these tools to achieve a desired outcome.  Our challenge then as teachers is to learn the tools that can help engage these digital-minded students and help them create data or material to achieve a specified outcome.  In addition, it is necessary to teach students how to be responsible citizens on the digital world.

Image by Sven Seller
Image by Sven Seller

The biggest challenge I face as an educator in a digital world is determining what digital sources to utilize.  When creating lessons, I often scour the web for interesting videos and visuals to support whatever our learning objective is for the day. These videos seem to peek student curiosity about the topic. The difficulty comes when trying to create “an end product” that will be interesting for students to complete and shows that they have gained the necessary knowledge.  While determining an end product is difficult, I try to find 2-3 possible “end products,” so students have a choice and can pick what they feel they can do their best work on.

As I work through this course, my mind constantly goes to “how can I incorporate this into my classroom?”  I’m already considering have a weekly blog requirement for each of my classes that focuses on one positive thing about the previous week.  The purpose is three-fold, to get students using technology and becoming comfortable with it, to get students writing, and to get students thinking about positive things instead of negative things.  This can be utilized in each of my classes with relative ease, I think.

Incorporating digital literacy into the classroom is one way that we can help reignite creativity in the classroom.  It’s time to start recognizing creative problem solving abilities and not just “book smarts.”   If students are afraid of failure, they will stop trying new things.  We need to do everything in our power to encourage students to try new things and not to be afraid of failure.


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