Let’s Dive into Digital Literacy: A Course in the Making

#ECI834

Digital literacy. What is it? How can it be achieved? Where do we start?

These are all valid questions that are asked by many of us. Digital literacy encompasses a range of different elements and themes that contribute to our online identities. It also intersects with the topic of media literacy, which is crucial in our world right now. Media Smarts reminds us that “media literacy generally focuses on teaching youth to be critically engaged consumers of media, while digital literacy is more about enabling youth to participate in digital media in wise, safe and ethical ways.”

As we have seen in the past month (or the past 4 years), misinformation is detrimental to our society. As educators, it is our responsibility to encourage our students to be critical thinkers, creators, and consumers. With this in mind, I was inspired to create a course on the topic of digital literacy so that students learn how to succeed in a digital world.

Course Framework

Target Audience: The course will be directed towards grade 2-4 students in a face-to-face, virtual, or blended setting.

Course Timeline: The course will focus on 5-6 main themes of digital and media literacy. Each theme will have a video lesson and activity. There will also be conclusion lesson to wrap up the course. The course can be done within a 6 week time frame with one lesson a week.

Course Delivery: This course can be delivered through an asynchronous learning format or in a blended model that involves face-to-face instruction and online learning in the classroom. The instructional videos for each course will be accessible on YouTube or within the course. The lessons will have both independent and collaborative activities that can be accessed online through Google Slides or Seesaw.

Course Objectives and Learning Outcomes: In the Digital Citizenship Guide for Saskatchewan’s School, there is a framework based on Mike Ribble’s Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship. Element 5 in this framework is digital literacy, which will be the course objective.

In the Digital Citizenship Guide, digital literacy is referred to as “searching for information, evaluating the content of websites, collaborating in networks, and organizing the abundance of information available online.” These skills will be the focus of the course. It’s also important to recognize that digital literacy includes social responsibility, empowerment, and awareness. Media Smarts, Common Sense Education, and Teaching Tolerance are all incredible resources I will refer to when including these critical aspects of the course.

The Learning Outcomes for the course will also fall under the Saskatchewan Curriculum. Both English Language Arts and Health have outcomes and indicators that point to digital literacy. Each outcome can be achieved online, which in turn develops digital literacy skills.

For example, the grade 3 outcome CC3. 1 says, “Comprehend and respond to a variety of grade-level texts that address identity, community, social responsibility and make comparisons with personal experiences.” These “texts” can be online articles, tweets, or blog posts. When students are developing their digital literacy skills, they are building their digital identity, learning how to thrive in an online community, and understanding the empowerment of online social responsibility.

The ELA outcomes for composing and creating allow students to remix and create online artifacts. The Health outcomes talk about online safety and etiquette, which is a big part of digital literacy. As you can see, there are many ways to incorporate online skills into the curriculum in order to meet the objectives.

Course Materials: The course can be accessed online with internet and a device or computer. Each activity is done in an online format, but with the option to be printed.

Special Considerations: The purpose of this course is to enhance the digital literacy skills and abilities of younger students so that they know how to thrive in a digital age. In order to achieve these skills, the learning in this course needs to be accessible to everyone, no matter the circumstances! Here are some areas of consideration for this course:

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com
  • The outcomes in this course can be achieved in various ways so that it meets the needs of every child. Students will have choice in their learning.
  • Every instructional video will have Closed Captioning.
  • If students are unable to access the video portion of the lesson, for reasons such as low bandwidth, there will be “Summary Points” to review the important themes in the lesson.
  • Each activity will be digital, but will also have the option to be printed. If students do not have access to a device or computer, their teacher or learning mentor can print out the materials for them.
  • The Digital Divide is an obvious reality in our world right now. In order to help students with this, there are libraries throughout the city that are open for anyone who needs computer and internet access. They also have programming that can assist students with their learning in a socially distanced and safe way. This information will be accessible within the course.

Activity Completion and Assessment: The course modules will be within a Learning Management System (LMS), but the video lessons will also be uploaded to YouTube. The activities for each lesson will be available within the LMS, Google Slides, and Seesaw. Students need to accomplish the lessons in order so that they have the necessary background knowledge for each lesson. There will be formative and summative assessments for the course, with a digital literacy completion certificate at the end.

Photo by olia danilevich on Pexels.com

The course is still in the “making”, but I have no doubt that it will evolve and adapt as the weeks go on. I’m wondering… is there anything you wish you would have known about the digital world when you were a kid? What do you think is essential for students to know about their digital identities? I am looking forward to hearing your feedback and I am excited to see the course take shape! Join me on this journey and let’s dive into digital literacy together!

-Amanda

18 thoughts on “Let’s Dive into Digital Literacy: A Course in the Making

  1. This course looks so great! I am excited to see you work your magic on it. I think one of the biggest things that I want my kiddos in the older grades to know is how to critically think when finding information on the internet, and how to judge if it is credible or not. Too often the conversations (especially lately) in the classroom have been geared towards what is happening in the states right now and COVID-19, and there has been a lot of misinformation that has been passed around the classroom as truth because it popped up on a site they were on, a tabloid they read, etc. I think this is such an important topic to teach, and I think as teachers we sometimes forget the value of explicitly teaching this content. Thanks so much for sharing, and I am so excited to see it take shape!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is such an exciting “EdTech Endeavour” ! I think this kind of information is lacking in the lower grade levels, so you will be filling a gap for teachers. I also like that it will be packaged in one course. Something I am finding with my own students is they are very comfortable sharing personal information online (example – a student posted a video to me with a tour of her house). I think they need to be reminded of what kinds of things are okay to share online and when to ask an adult. Looking forward to seeing this course grow and evolve throughout the semester!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! Great suggestion. I taught the lesson of “oversharing” in my classroom at the beginning of the year and as we used Twitter. It’s so important that students understanding private vs public information! Thanks for reading.

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  3. I am very excited to be following your course and to watch how it evolves and changes the lives of our young learners today. I was quite interested first because our projects can be shared with one another, as we are using a primary age for an audience. I also LOVE that you feel that choice should be part of your digital literacy practices. As a primary teacher, providing our students with choice gives them more agency, allows them to work at their own pace and opens more doors to creativity. I also think that in the circumstances we are in right now with Covid-19, introducing all students to more learning opportunities using a technological device is imperative to setting them up for future school success!
    Great work and I look forward to following along your journey!
    – Jillian

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey Amanda, your course looks great! Teaching youth how to critically wade through the vast amounts of information on the internet is such an important aspect in today’s digital age. Too often I see people hide behind the keyboard with their social media posts/comments. Teaching young students digital literacy will no doubt be a beneficial life skill. I look forward to how your course evolves.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading! I completely agree. Being able to critically sort through information is so important. I am hoping I can share those strategies and tips through my course!

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  5. This is a great idea, Amanda! I love the fact that your course can be utilized in an asynchronous or blended-learning environment as this will be easy for other teachers to use to fit their needs. The topic for your course couldn’t be more relevant today, as there is a strong need for more digital citizenship resources. I believe many teachers don’t teach digital citizenship (or teach it effectively) because they don’t know where to start. Your course will be a valuable tool for so many teachers to access and will be a great starting point for beginning digital citizenship instruction in classrooms. Looking forward to seeing where your journey takes you this semester!

    Matt

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading, Matt! I am hoping the course will be exactly that… a starting point for teachers so that they have the skills and strategies to integrate Digital Citizenship into their classroom.

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  6. I agree with Matt. Very relevant information. I’m taking a grad course on this topic right now. Really looking forward to this and hoping to borrow some of your ideas to better integrate this content into my courses.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a great idea! I think we need to start teaching digital citizenship to students at a much younger age. By the time students get to my class in grade 6, they have been exposed to so much information in the digital space, often with minimal digital citizenship understanding. I’m excited to see the final product!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ll be following your course closely Amanda as I work to develop (and also literally teach) Media Studies 20 this semester. Media Smarts is a fantastic resource (I love that they make curriculum connection charts), and it seems like you already have such a wealth of knowledge to make your course work. I also love the style of your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Riley! Media Smarts is definitely one of my favourite places to find engaging lessons and activities. I find that they encourage critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Hopefully you can get some ideas from my course for your Media Studies class!

      Liked by 1 person

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