Digital Literacy: A Must for Our Children
There are so many things that we, as parents and carers, need to give our children. Whilst perusing the world wide web, I was surprised at the countless lists of this and that, all claiming to be child necessities. However, through the countless scrolling that came about, very little explored the concept of Digital Literacy.
Yes, passing on skills in and a passion for literacy is an essential component of being a parent/carer and reading to your child, being read to by your child, encouraging your children to read to each other and even dedicating quality time for your child to read to themselves is undoubtedly important. But Digital Literacy? Digital Literacy is a whole new ball game.
The below script is taken directly from the PETTA Winter 2016 Newsletter (https://www.petaa.edu.au). It identifies my exact thoughts and concerns and puts them into words far better than what I could accomplish:
“As states and territories begin transitioning towards NAPLAN Online, it is timely to reflect on the skills required by students to engage with and construct meaning in digital environments. For learners to thrive in a digital society they need to be skilled in the cognitive and social processes that encompass digital literacy:
- locating and consuming digital content
- creating digital content
- communicating digital content”
So as you sit there reading to your child, it’s high time you also start thinking about ways that we can all help to develop their digital literacy skills, especially with school systems such as NAPLAN moving towards an online learning and assessing environment.
Controlled and targeted exposure is a great place to start. Here at Altius, Mr Hardy is often using online sources to help provide depth to his students’ digital literacy development. Equally, Ms Gordon, another teacher, accesses resources on the iPad to support learning in the classroom. Clearly, it is essential that we acknowledge that literacy is no longer just pen and paper, and the flicking through of a good book by Chris Colfer (though if you’re looking – keep an eye out for Colfer’s series The Land of Stories – buy I digress).
Digital technology is about using the resources available to gather, synthesise, create and communicate information and ideas. So these are some quick tips on how to start developing your child’s digital literacy:
- Through it all, the idea of an audience must be considered. In fact, it is the idea that I reiterate with my own students all the time. If you are working alongside your child at home as they research in the web, ask them who their audience is. How would their audience like this information to be presented? How would their audience best understand the message that is being sent? How would their audience know to stop and give the time and energy deciphering the message that is being sent? This is what I believe digital literacy is all about, and we need to ensure that the development of this becomes a factor to consider during family reading time.
- When exploring websites together, compare and contrast websites of similar content. Encourage your child to start thinking critically. If the website doesn’t appeal to them, ask them why and then move on. If it does, again, ask them to articulate what it is they like about the website. Is it the layout? The choice of vocabulary? The ease of understanding?
- Finally, a consideration I vocalise when teaching digital literacy relates to the validity of information. Is there a section on the website stating where this information came from? Unfortunately, almost anyone can create a webpage these days, and as a result, the information at our fingertips can be downright wrong. We need to teach our children to be able to identify valid sources of information. A good way of doing this is to teach them to look for references on the webpage, and compare this information to other information they already know, and with information on other webpages. This way, when they are communicating their own ideas based on research notes, they can do it with confidence – providing they acknowledge where they found their information too.