There are countless applications for technology in the modern-day classroom. However, like any traditional school subject, promoting digital literacy is an incremental process. It takes time to learn the basics before graduating to new levels of technological aptitude. That’s why we’ve compiled a shortlist of what educators should know and practical methods to better incorporate technology into their teaching.
What is digital literacy?
We’ve reached a point technologically where operating a mouse and keyboard isn’t just a handy tool. It’s almost universally necessary to progress academically, professionally, and socially in an increasingly connected digital world.
Digital literacy, in its simplest form, is the ability to access and communicate information on digital devices. Understanding the mechanics behind some of today’s most foundational technologies like efficient online searching (“How do I convert a word doc to PDF?”), file sharing (“my resume is attached below!”), and basic computer interfaces (“hold on, I think you’re on mute”) are critical not only to the present and future workplace but also to each stage of education and everyday life.
Why is digital literacy a skill all students need?
As with learning any new language, it pays to begin with the basics at a young age. Educators who include the building blocks of technological competency in their teaching can instill the following skills in young students — skills that will only become more crucial as they progress in their academic careers and beyond.
Accessing digital tools
The ability to quickly seek out and recover answers to questions using digital searches and online resources is an increasingly valuable skill. A short Youtube video can explain challenging concepts in a simple manner, but accessing the vast knowledge available online requires knowing where to look, how to search, and signs the information’s source is credible.
Learning practical uses for technology
Educators are growing increasingly adept and translating their curriculums to the digital age. Summary videos, visual aids , class polls to check attendance, or for confirming comprehension before moving on to new concepts — the applications of tech in the classroom are virtually endless.
Identifying credible sources
Media literacy is a skill all on its own — one that could (and has) warranted entire articles and even college courses dedicated to unraveling its many nuances. Safely identifying credible sources , be it for a grade school project on telescopes or an advanced political science course on complex international relations, is absolutely necessary for students to learn and progress in their educational and professional endeavors.
Learning to engage meaningfully
Teaching through technology helps put new information into a context students can understand. Using the rising generation’s increased familiarity with digital devices and the gamification of lesson plans to your advantage can motivate students to learn in their own way and to associate pursuing an education with rewarding feelings of accomplishment.
Discovering new ways to problem-solve
One of the best things technology can do is open up new avenues for students to work out difficult problems. The vast knowledge base accessed easily through digital devices has paved the way for new ways to look at problems.
Learning how to learn
It’s no surprise to even the newest teachers that not all students learn and retain information in the same way. Promoting digital literacy through technology in the classroom is an opportunity for teachers to modify their methods of instruction for the appropriate learning capabilities of their students. The use of technology allows students to work at their own pace, discover where their learning gaps may be, and easily reach out to teachers or classmates for assistance with specific problems.
5 Ways to promote digital literacy in everyday learning
Digital literacy in the classroom is an important element to every student’s development and future prospects — but for educators, it also provides a plethora of opportunities to bring more creativity into their everyday coursework. Integrating technology into the classroom will give your students real-world experience they can apply throughout their lives. It can also make education more fun and engaging, particularly for learners who may not respond as favorably to traditional teaching methods.
Here are five ways teachers can effectively bring technology into the classroom:
Make it interactive
This is something of a specialty of ours here at FRM. Many of technology’s advantages in the classroom come from stirring up interest and engagement from students that might otherwise be passive in their learning. Interactive technology provides such great flexibility in how students choose to learn and allows teachers access to direct feedback as they keep tabs on their pupils’ progress.
Provide supplementary materials online
Maybe a particular subject has captivated one of your pupils’ curiosity — or maybe it’s just simpler to gauge which areas a class appears to be lacking with a quick online assessment. Supplementing in-class coursework with online resources allows educators to expand on subjects that may not have been an emphasis in person. Links to TED talks, visual aids, an enlightening docuseries, and other online materials give your students the opportunity to engage in subjects they find most interesting and take a larger measure of ownership in their education.
Take advantage of video
While we still hold some fond nostalgia for wheeling a heavy TV cart to the front of a classroom to play old Bill Nye VHS tapes, modern class presentations have access to far more advanced (and less labor-intensive) methods of displaying video. And that’s a great thing because the video is one of the most engaging mediums available, and gives your class’ visual learners a strong reference point to hold onto as you progress through your coursework.
Use educational apps
The theme of technology inspiring greater participation continues with useful apps available to K-12 educators looking to mix things up. There are tons of app-based resources out there that have perfected the learning-as-a-game formula, from fun foreign language apps to apps that recognize and provide walkthroughs for advanced calculus . Flashcards, quiz reviews, brain teasers and other useful education apps have added another tool to the belt of educators in need of a change-of-pace lesson in the classroom.
Help students stay organized and on track
Online learning platforms like Blackboard can significantly enhance communication between teachers, students and parents. It’s easy to see past grades, current assignments, and key upcoming dates with the curriculum outline in an easy-to-use online portal. It also simplifies connecting with students about missed assignments or sick days and ensures an open line of communication with parents of students who may feel out of the loop. Blackboard-type programs have become a mainstay in higher education, but K-12 educators can see similar benefits to incorporating an organizational platform into their daily routine.
Digital literacy is a skill for life
Helping students understand and appreciate technology’s awesome potential as a classroom tool is a process undergoing constant refinement — after all, every year brings with it new advancements and studies telling us how to improve our teaching methods. It can be a lot to keep up with from year to year, but in the right hands, these tools afforded to modern educators can improve the educational experience for entire generations of students.