As a school librarian, digital literacy is part of my daily life. It is vital that students 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. Introduction to this topic should begin in elementary school grades, then reinforced in middle school and throughout high school.
Using resources such as read alouds, 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 such as Google’s internet safety curriculum called 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 and 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. At this level, students are encouraged to demonstrate their understanding by properly citing information and references. By doing so, their ability to evaluate information is increased as well as the ability to perform proper search techniques to decrease irrelevant sites. In the past, I have used RADCAB as a quick 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 critically think. 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 important 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 to effectively teach this difficult topic. As a stakeholder, consider the following:
- Developing a curriculum that builds upon previous lessons. It’s difficult to find a curriculum that uses the same language and is relevant to all students at all grade levels.
- Access to grade appropriate videos, websites and supplemental materials.
- Having an all in one program or the ability to add plagiarism or other digital literacy ethical topics in the discussion of online safety is important.
- 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 about safe and ethical use of information. Our lives have become intertwined with their technology. It is so important that we reinforce these skills throughout their educational experience.
As we teach about 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. We all have a role in helping our students become good digital citizens.
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