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Digital literacy is having the skills to effectively use technology and to do so safely and responsibly. “Digital” refers to technology, ranging from computers and the internet to technological objects and programs such as cell phones, smart home systems, check-in kiosks at airports and more. “Literacy” refers to the ability to use this technology—and to use it well. 

Digital literacy is becoming imperative in education for learning as well as for future career readiness and navigation of an increasingly digital world. 

Examples of Digital Literacy in Education 

In a recent survey by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, an overwhelming majority—94%—of public schools indicated that they provided access to digital devices such as laptops or tablets to students. However, only 72% said they were providing digital literacy training to these students.

Digital literacy is important for students for countless reasons in their current education as well as for career readiness in the future. But what does digital literacy actually look like in the classroom? Below are some examples of what digital literacy looks like in education.

  • Being able to power on digital devices, find, and open programs as needed.
  • Ability to use common applications such as word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation software effectively.
  • Using a digital device for reading or research.
  • Being able to navigate an online quiz or exam.
  • Being able to solve basic problems such as knowing where to go to open a file, spell-checking a document, making sure headphones are connected and the volume is turned on, etc.
  • Keyboarding efficiently and effectively.
  • Being able to vet the trustworthiness of digital resources and to utilize those resources while avoiding plagiarism.
  • Understanding how to share information safely and responsibly.
  • Understanding online safety and digital citizenship and taking appropriate measures to engage with content in a safe and responsible way.

Red Flags to Identify Students Requiring Extra Digital Literacy Support

There is a common misconception that today’s students are “digital natives,” insinuating they are able to navigate and use technology with little or no additional training. However, this misconception contributes to digital inequity and supports ineffective habits or mindsets regarding technology and how to use it effectively.

Oftentimes, identifying students who need extra help in digital literacy falls on the teacher. These students may not have access to technology at home or may not be exposed to situations that require them to use digital technology in practical ways. Their parents or caretakers may lack digital literacy skills, or these skills may not be prioritized in the household. In these cases, providing extra help, training or support to improve digital literacy skills can make a big difference in the student’s ability to use technology confidently and competently.

Below are some red flags teachers should look out for to identify students who may need extra help with mastering digital literacy skills:

  • Student documents requiring keyboarding are shorter than the classroom average, have excessive errors, or lack basic formatting.
  • Documents or presentations requiring images, graphs, or other supplemental graphics are missing these elements or have been implemented incorrectly.
  • Tests or quizzes taken digitally are frequently unfinished or result in lower than expected scores..
  •  Student is frequently frustrated or distracted during learning that requires technology.
  • Student fails to turn in assignments requiring technology, especially if it requires research or action at home–this may indicate the child does not have access to the appropriate technology tools at home.

Final Thoughts

There’s no doubt that digital literacy is becoming an increasingly important skill to teach in K-12 schools, but it can also be a weighty responsibility to the teachers in charge of disseminating this knowledge. Tools such as EasyTech provide easy-to-implement, individualized digital literacy skills to students based on grade band and subject. To learn more about this program, click the button below. Staff Writers Team

Staff Writers

Founded in 1999, provides educators with solutions to prepare their students with critical digital skills. Our web-based curriculum for grades K-12 engages students as they learn keyboarding, online safety, applied productivity tools, computational thinking, coding and more.

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