Thursday, May 3, 2012

Are you digitally literate?, Day #8--Searching and Evaluating like a Pro

Being able to search and evaluate information like a pro is just part of being digitally literate. Digital and information literacy is a broader topic that needs to be include in school curricula. We measure countries by their number of literate citizens; however, does that literacy encompass digital literacy?

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of literacy is:
  • educated, cultured
  • able to read and write
  • versed in literature or creative writing
  • lucid, polished <a literate essay>
  • having knowledge or competence <computer-literate> <politically literate>
Being able to read and write, be lucid and polished, be educated and cultured, and have competence means being able to perform in all media--not just print. A literate person is educated and cultured because they have a skill set that surpasses just one medium. They can apply those skills to multiple media and contexts. And, that is part of digital literacy.

So, are you digitally literate? Should we judge on students' success not just on their ability to read and write in print, but to read, write, and ANALYZE/EVALUATE in multiple media? 

Microsoft offers a detailed curriculum on digital literacy that should be incorporated into the larger curriculum--and not just in one subject (like English where it seems to be the only place literacy is enforced). On their digital literacy site, they offer a basic, standard, and advanced curriculum for free. The standard curriculum is offered in Office 2010, Office 2007 and Office 2003. 

Meanwhile, Commonsense Media provides resources on information/digital literacy by grade level and subject. It's just a matter of selecting your grade level and subject. These resources are also open-source and available for download. allows educators to search for specific topics within digital literacy. For each topic searched, there are a multitude of resources available for free download. 

These three sites should be a staple in any school as they provide a wealth of free resources and curricula for teachers and students. 

Searching and evaluating sources are part of being literate. Now that students turn to the Web for searching and evaluating, we must teach digital responsibility and broaden our definition of literacy to include non-print media. 

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