Digital and Media Literacy in the Age of the Internet

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to listen to Mary Beth Hertz, Philadelphia high school teacher as well as author of the book called Digital and Media Literacy in the Age of the Internet explaining what digital literacy and media literacy are while providing teachers with practical classroom applications.

The first question that came to my mind during the Skype discussion was: Are we educators prepared for teaching our students digital literacy and media literacy? I can relate to Leigh Tremblay, when it comes to “blindly” engaging with apps without knowing what is behind them. Looking at myself, there’s still a lot that needs to be done in the area of knowing how technology works and knowing how to use and analyze resources. I think the first step is that we educators recognize the importance of digital and media literacy and take the time to better ourselves. Since how could we guide our students, if we don’t understand technology and don’t know what is happening around us? Or we just lock the world of Internet and Social Media out of our classrooms limiting our students’ learning?

I agree with Adam Scott Williams, who believes that “Schools are the perfect place for students to learn about social media tools and how to use them responsibly and efficiently.” Prof. Henry Jenkins draws our attention to the dangers of the mentality of “let them be, they’ll learn on their own” since our student population is made up of three distinct groups of young people: digital orphans, digital exiles and digital heirs. Being aware of these differences can help us, educators when it comes to meeting our students’ needs. According to Mary Beth Hertz, it is crucial for us, teachers to educate ourselves and our students. Making assumptions that our students have digital literacy, just because they have access to technology or are able to use certain apps can be quite dangerous. It is like a ‘digital playground’ where students are being thrown into without guidance. It is our job to address and fill in the gaps.

Another important takeaway was the importance of validating our students’ experiences and being open to learn with them and from them. Listening to our students and talking about their experiences in a non-judgemental way will help us see the value Social Media offers to youth as well as helping them deal with its negative effects, such as the FOMO phenomena. I wonder if teaching youth to be real as Alexandra Samuel: Ten Reasons to Stop Apologizing for your Online Life explains, would make a change and encourage youth to behave like IRL (in real life) since the online life is RLT (real life too)?

3 thoughts on “Digital and Media Literacy in the Age of the Internet

  1. Thanks for the great post Melinda! I like how you mention that we can’t assume students have digital literacy just because they have access to technology. I think we need to take a step back and consider how our students are using this technology. Often they are simply consuming and using technology for pure entertainment purposes. As their teachers, we must show them how to effectively maneuver around that ‘digital playground.’

  2. Skype conversation? 🙂

    I also agree with Adam in terms of the opportunity that we have (perhaps even obligation) to teach students about social media IN school as a proactive measure toward their own happy, healthy, and balanced lives. As you also express, learning FROM students is a must, especially if we can (as teachers) develop a reciprocal learning exchange with them.

    Thanks for your post – looking forward to the next!

  3. Nice reflection and tie ins to other posts. When you say it’s our job to address and fill in the gaps … is that just teachers or are there other stakeholders that need to be a part of the solution / guidance? Thanks for making me think.

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