What is digital literacy and how do you teach it?

My notes on Chase, Z., & Laufenberg, D. (2011). Embracing the squishiness of digital literacy. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 54(7), 535-537.

Even if widespread disagreement remains about what constitutes digital literacy, everyone seems to agree that it is important to the success of students. As Chase and Laufenberg point out, “if digital literacy is simply reading and writing in a digital environment, there is no need for the new terminology” (535). Instead they suggest it is a format, genre and tool standing within literacy more broadly, as opposed to being a concept which tracks something distinct from it. To read digitally means “students and teachers must learn to read beyond the printed page” and “across all those platforms which can be used to create”. It is what enables reading “across multiple forums, media, linguistic registers, and purposes” (536). It entails following connections, contextualising what you find and switching codes as necessary through the journey you undertake on this process of discovery.

They offer an interesting example of an exercise that can be used to teach digital literacy which involves students finding articles on the same event from a regional publication within the United States, one from a different region and another from outside the US. In essence, it’s about triangulating between the accounts in order to explore the gap between the reality of the event and the different ways it has been constructed in different fora. Has any compiled a book of digital literacy exercises that are used by teachers? If anyone knows of this I’d really love to look at it.

They draw an important distinction between a curriculum predicated on digital technology and one served by digital technology. This places inquiry based learning at the centre, with digital technology being used as a powerful set of tools to this end. It aims to produce “students that are skilled in consumption, evaluation, and creation of content” (537).

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