Digital literacy in schools currently has two dominant avenues:
- Equipping pupils with the necessary skills to thrive in a tech-centric future, and
- Creating savvy individuals that can effectively navigate the pitfalls of fake news.
Not only does teaching digital literacy in schools provide alternative ways to learn, but it also prepares students for the workforce of the future. Employers have come to expect their workforce to possess an arsenal of digital skills that will allow them to thrive in a digital society. Young people need to not only be aware of the impact of technology, but also be able to harness its power and integration in their everyday lives. Teaching digital literacy in schools would also provide alternative ways to learn. For example, English teachers can use blogging to advance digital literacy, while citizenship teachers can present their class with real-world problems that encourage pupils to use their computational skills to come up with solutions, all the while instilling in pupils an understanding of what it means to keep safe on the internet.
Doing this, educators are not only preparing students for the world of work but are also ensuring that they do not fall behind in an increasingly technologically advanced society. This aside, education technology providers are being proactive by developing products that empower teachers and students to develop digital literacy skills. For example, in a time where fake news is flooding social media – the place where many young people find their information – it is more important than ever to equip students with tools that can filter out misinformation. This not only helps them identify credible sources at school but also helps them be as informed as possible about various events taking place in the world. It also protects them from the danger of being manipulated online.
Technology is something that must be effectively used by educators, as not only a learning experience to enhance digital literacy, but also to open a whole new world to young people as they progress through life. By encouraging students to think critically and to think beyond what we believe is possible gives them the opportunity to understand social behaviours created by digital technology. We often refer to this generation of pupils as ‘digital natives’ but we must not assume that they are born with an inherent understanding of technology. They may be quicker to learn and adapt these skills, but we should not rob them of the opportunity to learn more.
To find out more about how we can best equip young people with digital literacy skills in an age of misinformation, join us at Encyclopaedia Britannica’s House of Commons event, co-hosted by Conor Burns MP, with talks from Encyclopaedia Britannica’s Global Chief Executive Officer, Karthik Krishnan, and Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust.