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.
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:
- 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.
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!