The term “digital literacy” has meant one’s ability to navigate and use computers in decades past, but we need to upgrade it to its true weight. To be “digitally literate” also needs to refer to one’s ability to communicate digitally, a looming void in the future of every current student.
They need to learn how to read and research digitally, assessing credible information and citing resources. Most important is the combination of language and “likes” with online personas, since who you “follow” is now public knowledge.
How can we do it? By identifying community needs and supporting educators in integrating digital literacy into the current curriculum.
Here are some ways to incorporate digital literacy into curriculum:
Conveying Tone - Ask students when a text was misinterpreted because the recipient didn’t properly interpret their tone. This naturally leads to conversations about tone, which pairs well with literary analysis and writing style. Ask students to adopt a character and write a text conversation between themselves and another character.
Public Persona - Examine social media profiles to extract what you can tell about a company, business, celebrity, or influencer. How do what they post and who they follow influence the public’s view of them? How does a profile convey who or what they stand for? Extend this by creating a social media profile for a book, a historical event, or a character. Have each student create a post and then choose three to reply to.
Credible Resources - Give students several websites to examine for credibility. Explore what makes them think the site is credible at 15 seconds (first impression), 1 minute, 5 minutes, and 10 minutes - most sites don’t get that much traction! Teach the difference between domain endings. The University of South California has an amazing site to explore this and other issues: https://uscupstate.libguides.com/c.php?g=257977&p=1721754 Make this a whole-school initiative!
Our digital footprint speaks volumes. Students of the future must understand how their current online persona speaks into their future. This is only a starting point for digital literacy in our modern world.