Just because they’re into technology . . . doesn’t mean they know what to do with it. Thinking about young people’s affinity with being connected and the ever-present gadgets in their hands, it may seem (to some) that familiarity and comfort are the same as expertise.
In many instances of technology use, young people are confident and fearless. They are creative. They are happy with their devices. They are resourceful. They even share. Many students “know how to use technology,” and that’s great, to a point.
However, in a recent article in Principal, Digital Native Does Not Equal Digital Literacy, AASL and school library leaders Ann Martin and Kathleen Roberts highlight a characteristic of today’s learners that you probably know well: the digital environments in which they learn, communicate, and play require complex sets of skills. There are gaps in what students know, some of which they might be able to articulate, some not. Digital natives aren’t automatically adept digital citizens, responsible social media users, expert producers of media, or critical thinkers when faced with a sea of information sources.
In what ways have you observed the limitations of students’ digital expertise? Perhaps students jump into Google searches with ease, but they get a little flummoxed by conducting an advanced search in an online database. Maybe the freedom to choose an application for curating poses a challenge for learners, or they’re not really sure about the differences between saving work to a device versus saving it in the cloud. This article highlights well the ways in which school librarians integrate these elements of digital learning into the broader foundation of inquiry that they teach and model every day.
The thinking, questioning, and collaborating skills that round out what might be more observable (or obvious) behaviors of digital literacy are skills taught in the school library. Martin and Robertson explain that in teaching inquiry, self-assessment, and reading across formats (to name a few areas), school librarians provide instruction that extends across content areas and facilitates highly transferable critical thinking and problem solving capacities in learners.
This is an article to read, bookmark, and share with teachers, principals, and school leaders! Further, it’s an article for you to revisit when you want to focus on the importance of school library programs in deepening and realizing digital literacy for students.
Reference: Martin, Ann M. and Kathleen Roberts. “Digital Native Does Not Equal Digital Literacy.” Principal (January/February 2015). http://www.naesp.org/principal-januaryfebruary-2015-literacy-and-reading/digital-native-does-not-equal-digital-literacy