High school science teacher and MAET student, Kim Owens (@KimOwochta) invited Jeff and I to be a part of one of the Bridge Webinar Series on the topic of developing digital literacy skills in students, why it is important, and practical advice for teachers going forward. Viewers and participants walked away from this conversation with practical ideas. More importantly, we were energized about the importance of these efforts.
The internet is a noisy place full of all sorts of great information and some not so good information. How do we equip students with the skills to cut through the noise and utilize the valuable information only? How do we teach information literacy and what skills need to be taught? What advantages and disadvantages are there to incorporating technology into literacy?
This conversation got us thinking about how truly broad a concept literacy is. Language literacy tends to be what pops to mind when hearing the term. So we think of reading and writing. Learning what words mean and then learning what they mean when they are strung together. But then, one can be literate in almost anything.
For instance, musical literacy involves being fluent in the ability to recognize, interpret, absorb and perhaps even create musical content. Information literacy does much the same but in terms of being able to recognize, learn with or even create resources toward the goal of learning online.
But something that we forget is that these literacies are not innate skills. They may seem to be innate because we are immersed in language in everything we do. When one is fluent, or worse assumes someone else is fluent, it makes it easy to ignore the need to intentionally teach literacy skills. This is why we kept putting "Digital Native" in air quotes during this webinar, because it is really irresponsible of teachers to assume that experienced technology users equate to advanced information users. These skills need modeling and they need to be developed within the context of learning. It must permeate the very core of teaching and learning, beyond being a flashy appendage.
For more on this conversation and others like it, visit the MAET Bridge Webinar Series site.