Looking Into Digital Literacy

I have been aware of the concept of digital literacy for the past few years, with the emphasis of its importance being discussed through post-secondary institutions. Before this however, I grew up in an age where digital literacy and fake news were less common than they are now. As highlighted in the “ How to Choose Your News” TED Talk I received my news through a broad lens and material was limited both for written and TV-based news programs. Now with a number of years passed, fake news and digital literacy are appearing in more conversations with larger impacts. Due to this, educators now serve as key figures to properly teach the different parts of this concept to students.

Working with the students in the secondary level in regards to digital literacy and fake news is a complex task, as students in this range are consumers of different forms of social media and have the ability to interact through online discussions. I have always had a focus on history and social studies and looking at the SK curriculum we see there are themes regarding political decision making, economic decision making, as well as international relations.

Figure 1 highlights the SK Ccurriculum

As highlighted in the article “ Developing Critical Literacies: What we need to know in a Fake News World” topics such as politics are often subject to a high presence of fake news, usually seen through the use of unrealistic articles and Tweets. Considering that tools can now be modified and adjusted for voice and facial messages, having a critical eye is vital and combat solutions can be taught.

The first notion we need to keep in mind is that digital literacy and fake news can vary on the scale and provide each student with a different reaction. This could span from being upset and angry to feeling shocked and possibly confused, an example that highlights this would be the “ You’re not going to believe what I’m about to tell you comic”.  I found this very unique due to the presence of creativity and the fact it focuses on reaffirming different feelings and could serve as a useful resource in future experiences. Looking at other ways we teach this concept to students involves finding the key source. This could possibly be done through following the closest connection to an event, for example reporters on social media. Another point is to allow students to look and research an event after an amount of time and a series of days after the initial reaction. Teachers should take time throughout different lesson plans and topics to ensure that students are aware of different perspectives, for example when looking in the field of development of nation series in the curriculum. Facts vs. opinion is another element that needs to be affirmed, especially during a period with such a social media presence. The freedom we have in the ability to post new content and spread information is a benefit to society, although freedom brings with it a responsibility as mentioned in the TED-Ed video. When working with secondary level students we can also picture introducing a series of new online resources, historically apply other examples of fake news, for example, the 2016 election which was subject to a series of different mainstream fake publicity in the form of Twitter and Facebook posts. As well, highlighted in “ Developing Critical Literacies: What we need to know in a Fake News World” as educators we should contribute to the central learning of critical disposition and reaffirm to students that reality can vary between perspectives and maybe tangled by the media.

Some others that can contribute to the learning of digital literacy would be the wide variety of TED-Ed based videos that highlight important skills when it comes to identifying media skills. As well as the KQED Lesson Plans which are clearly broken down and allow education students who may not have the most experience with crafting their own lesson plans. As well, all the objectives are unique and can be applied to the current technological platforms

Figure 2 shows my favorite points of the KQED Lesson Plans.

Looking at the purpose of the NCTE in the context of digital literacy shows us that their goals are still designed to be met and the greater presence of digital literacy is evolving and becoming more common. The NCTE discusses how students express their understanding through a series of blogs and discussion forums based on key experiences. The challenge with this newer form of communication is that it still could be manipulated through fake news and social media presence. A possible solution lies with ensuring a greater presence of online communication platforms, such as blogs and discussion forums being introduced throughout 9, 10, and 20/30 level courses in the SK curriculum and the opportunity for students to evaluate their personal research in the field of history and social studies.

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