Digital Literacy: How Students Can Learn The Latest Technologies
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Digital literacy is the ability to use digital technology to create or analyze information. Students of all ages need to develop digital literacy skills for success in college and on the job, so teachers are using a variety of tools to bring technology into the classroom.
From tweeting about historical events to blogging about science experiments, there are many opportunities for educators to introduce new technology and make it fun for students to learn the skills they need.
This guide introduces a number of places where educators can find the resources they need to teach digital literacy alongside course subject matter.
By the end of this guide, educators will not only know where to find digital literacy resources, they'll also be equipped with a wide range of actionable ideas for integrating technology with education.
Lesson Plans for Teaching Digital Literacy
Free lesson plans covering virtually every aspect of internet use and digital citizenship are available online. Three great places for finding lesson plans are:
- Common Sense Education: more than 2,000 lesson plans are available covering a huge range of topics. Not all of the lesson plans cover digital literacy topics, but many do. For example, Introduction to Computer Programming is suitable for students in grades six through twelve and makes use of well-known programming training tools like the Khan Academy and Codecademy.
- ReadWriteThink: free lesson plans can be sorted by grade level, plan type, and theme at ReadWriteThink. Select the "Digital Literacy" learning objective so see move than 100 lesson plans covering topics such as Creating an Online Community Through Electronic Portfolios, Book Report Alternative: Glog That Book!, and 3-2-1 Vocabulary: Learning Filmmaking Vocabulary by Making Films.
- DigitalLiteracy.gov: this website is maitained by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and provides a search tool which can be used to locate classroom resources by keyword, subject area, or skill.
Classroom blogs give students extra opportunities to read and write, making them a valuable tool for any grade.
They also encourage students to collaborate and provide opportunities for peer mentorship. Students who are hesitant to participate in class discussions may be more likely to participate when classroom blogs are used to share information.
Teachers like classroom blogs because they are easily updated and serve as a central source of information for parents and students. Blogs also double as student portfolios, making it easy to see how a child is progressing from one grading period to the next.
Edublogs is one of the most popular platforms for educators because it has content-filtering capabilities and does not display any advertising. The platform also comes with additional learning tools and student management capabilities, making it a valuable tool for educators.
Additional platforms and resources to help you get the most out of your classroom blog include:
- EdTechTeacher Blogging Platforms: this tool makes it easy to compare blogging platforms like Edublogs, Blogger, WordPress, and Tumblr. EdTechTeacher also provides a list of real classroom blogs so you can see how other educators are using blogging in the classroom.
- Using Blogs in the Classroom: this guide lists eight different ways students can use blogs in the classroom and provides tips for using the right blogging platform.
- Blogs as Prewriting Tools: Dr Nicole Luongo discusses the use of classroom blogs by language arts educators.
- 7 Things to Know About Blogs (PDF): Educause explains why blogging is such a useful tool for educators.
- Creating a Science Classroom Blog: this resource lists seven reasons science teachers should use classroom blogs and provides tips for setting up a basic blog within 20 minutes.
You can safely assume that virtually all of your students are regularly exposed to or are active users of social media websites like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Some educators are using social media to educate students beyond the walls of the classroom. If you want to find out how other educators are harnessing social media for education, take a look at these resources:
- Utilizing Social Media Education in the classroom: a free lesson plan from Common Sense Education that uses Edmodo, a social network for classrooms, to teach literary criticism.
- Current Events Using Social Media: teach students how to use social media to discuss current events and share their views with a larger audience in a responsible manner.
- Four Reasons I Use Twitter in My Classroom: a short article explaining how a fifth grade teacher uses Twitter to enhance her work.
- LinkedIn for Students: find or Be Found: managing your digital reputation is more important than ever and this article explains how to help students get a jumpstart on creating a robust and compelling digital footprint.
- Using Instagram as a Classroom Tool: this article explores how one teacher uses Instagram to reinforce topics presented in class and to communicate with students.
- Three Reasons Students Should Own Your Classroom's Twitter and Instagram Accounts: if you do create a Twitter or Instagram account for your class, don't forget to include your students in the process of curating the material that you post.
- 10 Surprising Ways to Use Instagram in the Classroom: do you want to use Instagram in the classroom but aren't sure how to go about doing so? This post will give you lots of good ideas.
Some teachers are turning their classroom blogs into video blogs, or vlogs. Video blogs have many uses in the educational world, from showcasing student projects to making lessons available outside the classroom.
Students learn how to use recording tools, edit video files, and upload files to their school web servers, so they develop valuable digital literacy skills while having fun.
Video blogs also enhance communication and make it easier for parents to see what their children have been doing in school. Students can use vlogs to showcase their musical talents, upload videos of their science experiments, and educate other students about social topics.
There's a steeper technical learning curve for both teachers and students to overcome when it comes to video blogging. If you need help with the basics check out this guide to Video Blogging for Teachers.
Once you have the technical side of the equation solved, the next hurdle is coming up with content ideas. If you're struggling to come up with good ideas, the article 5 Fun Vlogging Ideas for Every Teacher will surely stimulate your creativity.
A wiki is simply a collaborative website created and edited by more than one user. Classroom wikis have many features that make them ideal for increasing digital literacy.
Students can edit them quickly, make suggestions, and work together to create content. Teachers can use wikis to summarize lessons, disseminate important information, and post class notes.
One of the best things about using classroom wikis is that wiki software does not prevent students from making mistakes; meaning they have the opportunity to find and correct errors, which is a good way to strengthen their skills.
Students can use classroom wikis to create study guides, vocabulary lists, and summaries of research projects.
If you're ready to jump on the wiki bandwagon, here are a few resources to get you started.
- Collaboration Through Wikis: explains wikis in greater detail and provides examples of how wikis can improve the quality of education.
- How to Use Wiki in the Classroom: this practical guide to wiki implementation introduces the three most popular providers of free wikis and offers a list of 8 tips for using a wiki in the classroom.
- How and Why to Create a Class Wiki: sometimes you just want to see a real life example. This article will point out five excellent examples of classroom wikis and provide links where you can find hundreds of additional examples.
- Wikispaces: if you're ready to sign up for a free classroom wiki, consider Wikispaces — one of the leading providers of classroom wikis.
- PBworks Edu Hub: another popular provider of classroom wikis is PBworks. A free plan is available that supports a single wiki.
Glogster is a tool for educators, but it is no less important than blogs and wikis. The Web-based tool allows teachers and students to create virtual posters and share them with other people.
The posters combine audio, text, images, video, and hyperlinks, so students have the opportunity to develop several different technology skills.
Glogster makes it easy to create posters addressing classroom policies, homework assignments, and even as an alternative way to present a book report.
Teachers can also post photos and videos of students reading, working on math problems, playing musical instruments, or participating in physical education activities.
There are many ways to use Glogster in the classroom, from creating interactive posters about school initiatives to sharing the results of a challenge-based project. Some teachers are even using Glogster to help their students create digital books that can be shared with parents and siblings.
For more ideas on how you can use Glogster in the classroom take a look at Teaching with Glogster.
A podcast is a type of digital media recorded by students and uploaded to syndication or streaming services such as iTunes. Students record classroom activities, edit the audio and video files, and upload the files for digital distribution, which helps them develop digital literacy.
With just a computer and a good microphone, teachers can also record their lessons and make them available for students and parents to listen to at home. This makes it easier for students to study and gain a deeper understanding of the material taught in class.
Science teachers are using podcasts to help students share what they have learned during experiments. Students can record their book reports and share them with other reading classes. Podcasting is so versatile it can be used for every subject.
If you want to start a class podcast, here are two resources to help you get started:
- Podcasting: this guide offers information about selecting a recording tool, hosting your podcast, and using podcasting in the classroom.
- Podcasting Beyond the Classroom: this article explains how podcasting can motivate students to do their best work.
Digital literacy is a skill that every student must learn to be successful when they go on to college or join the modern workforce, and building digital literacy education into every subject can help keep students engage with course content as critical skills are developed.
A wealth of free resources is available online to help educators teach digital literacy, and in this article we've presented some of the best resources the web has to offer.
Further Reading and Resources
We have more guides, tutorials, and infographics related to technology and learning:
- A+ Math Student Guide and Resources: tips and tools for learning math.
- How Minecraft Can Be Used in Education: find out how this fun game can be used for serious learning in the classroom.
- Educational Websites for Kids: a great list of websites to help kids learn.
Fun Ways Kids Can Learn to Code
Want to get your students interested in programming? Check out our infographic, Fun Ways Kids Can Learn to Code