As a school librarian, digital literacy is part of my daily life. Students must find and use information safely and ethically. Teaching this topic as a standalone in a library setting is less effective. It should be integrated within all subject areas, not just in a library setting. This topic should begin in elementary school grades, then be reinforced in middle school and throughout high school.
Resources such as read-aloud, videos, and online activities that encourage students to learn the importance of being a good digital citizen are essential. For example, I have used programs like Google’s internet safety curriculum, Interland. However, I have found it lacks the ethical use component. This required me to supplement with another program. I relied heavily on the copyrightandcreativity.org website for my lessons on plagiarism. The program is designed to be simplistic, builds on each other, and has ideas for every level. Another part of my digital literacy standards encourages students to work collaboratively to produce a final project. Having shared web-based productivity tools are necessary to teach this skill. In addition, utilizing a citation website or an add-on to their typing program ensures students understand they can’t “steal “information.
As this is a spiral curriculum, all of the above would need to be reinforced. Students are encouraged to demonstrate their understanding by properly citing information and references at this level. By doing so, their ability to evaluate information and perform proper search techniques to decrease unrelated sites is increased. In the past, I have used RADCAB as a short teaching acronym to reinforce website and information evaluation. RADCAB is the acronym for Relevancy, Appropriateness, Detail, Currency, Authority, and Bias.
As students’ brains develop, they are better equipped to think critically. At this stage of the game, plagiarism, citations, and digital citizenship are no longer arbitrary topics. Some have experienced real-life consequences. Learning more specifically about bias and how that interferes with the reliability of the information is an essential component of any program.
How this is taught
Digital literacy is a topic for future learning in any content area. Students must understand how to find, evaluate, and use resources ethically. Librarians and teachers should be working collaboratively. Finding the right tools at each level will help teachers and librarians effectively teach this complex topic. As a stakeholder, consider the following:
- Developing a curriculum that builds upon previous lessons. Finding a curriculum that uses the same language and is relevant to all students at all grade levels is challenging.
- Access to grade-appropriate videos, websites, and supplemental materials.
- Having an all-in-one program or the ability to add plagiarism or other ethical digital literacy topics in online safety discussions is essential.
- Providing updates as technology advances.
- Increase accessibility by pricing tools that are versatile on various platforms.
Why This Is Important
With an increased focus on technology due to remote learning, students and teachers have become more aware of information’s safe and ethical use. Our lives have become intertwined with their technology. It is so essential that we reinforce these skills throughout their educational experience.
As we teach digital ethics through a digital literacy program, students can see the importance and relevance to their personal lives. Thankfully, digital literacy is no longer a topic discussed solely in a library setting. Instead, we all have a role in helping our students become good digital citizens.
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