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The Digitally Literate Citizen

Coming to the end of this course and knowing what I now know from the readings shared, the videos and the lectures, I would be confident to say all students need to be taught about digital literacy. This does not necessarily differ from my thoughts coming into this course, however, the course did point out the exact reasons as to why. Students do not know about digital literacy unless explicitly taught and not all students are going to have these teachings from home. This was clear from the New York Times article by Katheryn Schulten and Christy Brown titled “Evaluating Sources in a ‘Post-Truth’ World: Ideas for Teaching and Learning About Fake News”. Schulten and Brown show and image of some deformed flowers with the question “Does this post provide strong evidence about the conditions near the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant?”. Shockingly, nearly 4 in 10 high school students thought based on the headline, the image believed this was evidence enough.

I grew up in the day when the internet was just becoming an accessible tool, heck, in elementary school I was still being taught how to look up information in an encyclopedia! In my early years we had dated McIntosh computers (what eventually became Apple) with games downloaded to them and no access to the internet. Eventually, each classroom was given one computer on a cart for the whole class to share. I realize that to some, this might make me sound ancient but the fact is, I’m not. I know there are MANY teachers today who still have lengthy careers ahead of them who have all grown up in the same day that I did. I mention this because, although there tends to be a focus on digital literacy for today’s students, there are also many adults who have not received explicit lessons as well. Many of these same adults are teaching are children right now and will be for many years to come.

The worksheet titled “Bias in the news” by Katherine Koskie nicely highlights the different types of biases out there which can contribute to inaccurate telling’s of the news. Koskie highlights Bias through omission, placement, headline, word choice, tone, pictures, etc. She highlights how it can me common place for bias to be in the news as everyone has the ability to hold a bias. At the end of her reading, she provides 3 articles, all which are apparently reporting on the same event. She provides a worksheet for students to work through to identify and analyze the different types of bias. I think this is a great activity to teach about digital literacy and would likely relate well to grade 7 or 8.

So, what is my point? As a future teacher I need to take responsibility for the things I do not know, and I cannot use this as an excuse for dismissing teachings for my students. In the Saskatchewan Curriculum it is quite difficult to find and outcomes which directly relate to digital literacy, especially when it comes to the early years which I’m most interested in teaching. I love the flexibility of the curriculum which allows me to weave teachings into different subject areas but what about the teachers who were never taught about topics like digital literacy to begin with? Would these same individuals see the same value in teaching this information to their students? Would some of them be susceptible to the belief of fake news? This makes me wonder what teachings future university education students will have that I did not have in my four years. It reminds me to stay current and to stay relevant for the sake of my students.

digital literacy

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