Maha Bali: Knowing the Difference Between Digital Skills and Digital Literacies, and Teaching Both
Doug Belshaw: Essential Elements of Digital Literacy (chapters 2, 4, 5, 7)
From reading through Bali and Belshaw’s reading I am beginning to understand what digital literacy is. Like digital citizenship, digital literacy is an umbrella statement that refers to an individuals ability to communicate and express their ideas on the internet through a variety of locations from many devices. It covers things from social media sites to blog sites and the ability to use phones to laptops. This is where everything starts to get tricky. Bali’s article talks about the difference between digital skills and digital literacies. Somebody who is tech savvy isn’t necessarily skilled in digital literacy. The concept is easier to explain with an example.
Let us say that you want your students to look up information on birds. You task your students with finding certain pieces of information and listing their sources. A student who is only digitally skilled will just look up the bird in google and click on the first result. The digitally literate student would make sure they are searching the right website for valid information, check on how reputable a source is, and assess the biases the author might have on these birds.
To illustrate the difference I have created a ven diagram below to illustrate some differences between the two.
Mike Caulfield: Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers
Mike Caulfield: Civix Media Literacy Videos
About the Digital Polarization Initiative (DigiPo) and Examples of Student DigiPo Work
The internet is full of information. Not all of that information is equal though. There are academic sources that are backed by experts in the community and then there are sources that are from an unknown or unreputable origin. That’s why as teachers we must teach students how to properly distinguish fake from the truth as well as the valid information from the invalid. To draw from Mike Caulfield’s Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers, I agree that we need to teach students how to think laterally when online. The concept of lateral thinking online comes from the researcher Sam Wineburg who coined the term for researching information as your reading. In lamens terms, it’s googling and looking for the source of information using sites such as Tineye or PolitiFact.
To add my own idea to this reading I believe that we should start teaching students about lateral thinking as early as we can. The sooner you start reading online articles and news sources with this technique the easier it gets to utilize the wealth of knowledge the internet has at its disposal.