Friday, October 28, 2016

Teaching Digital Literacy: Resources to Help Students Validate Online Information

Digital Literacy is a term that is growing ever more popular among those teaching our 21st Century Learners. Also known as Information Literacy, Digital Literacy is an important component of what is known as Digital Citizenship. It is a skill that many children and adults grapple with. One of my favorite memes on the topic is right here!

We all chuckle, but then the conversation kind of fizzles out from there. It isn't that we shouldn't believe anything that we find online, it is that we need to be critical of the validity of what we find.

I often hear teachers say, "kids are so lucky now, they can just search for the information they need on the internet. They have the answers instantaneously." While it may be true, the statement doesn't take into account that students must be critical and validate information that they find. I argue that this was not a skill that previous generations had to grapple with as much. For example, as a child of the 80's and 90's, when I went to the library to look up information in encyclopedias and books, I didn't have to deeply question the validity of material found. I may have looked at publishing dates, but I hardly questioned who the author was, or the publishing company of the source. (I'm speaking of non-fiction texts of course) Yes our students can quickly access information, but they have to learn how to validate and be critical of that information.

So that leads to the following question: "How do I teach kids how to validate what they find online?"

Here are just a few resources out there to support teachers as they develop this 21st Century Skill with their students.

November Learning: Education Resources for Web Literacy - Middle School & Up
This site has 7 different steps to walk students through as they begin to learn about internet information, urls, domain names, and so on. It begins with a pre-test to give students an idea of where they stand.

Common Sense Education:
Common Sense has a great amount of support materials when it comes to teaching all aspects of Digital Citizenship. Here are just a few links that are directly used for Digital Literacy
Common Sense Education: Sites I Like (Grades K-2) - What makes a Website the Right Site For You?
Common Sense Education: You've Won A Prize! (Grades 3-5) - What is Spam and What Can You Do About It?
Common Sense Education: Identifying High Quality Sites (Grades 6-8) - When Can You Trust What You Find On the Internet?

iKeepSafe Digital Literacy - Google Digital Literacy and Citizenship Curriculum (Grades 6-8)
The first lesson plan on this page titled, Become an Online Sleuth, can help you teach your students to use a critical eye while using the internet.

These are just a few of the many resources out there to support teachers and students as they shuffle through the unlimited information online.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Picture Surfing for Students and Teachers

Part of the purpose for student usage of technology in the classroom is to allow students to become creators not just consumers. A large part of this creative process for our learners is the resources that they find to put into their product. In this case we are talking about visual resources, or images.

Many students and teachers go directly to Google and search images. They then copy and paste away. As many of us know, this can rise several issues. Two of them being:
  1. Inappropriate images appearing within the search.
  2. The use of pictures without permission of the rightful owner.
These issues (and several others) have created the need of safe searching creative commons photos for educational use. Luckily there are several websites that students can go to for that very purpose!

Photos for Class - Just as the title says, this site allows students to search for photos that are appropriate for classroom use. The photos also include auto citation, and creative commons photos for use. If a student search does bring up an inappropriate image, it allows teachers to report it to be removed.


Pics4Learning - Pics4Learning is another safe place for students to search for needed photos. The organization of the site is excellent, and allows students to easily search by category.

Pexels - Pexels is full of large sized creative commons stock photos. Some of them are truly breath taking. Pexels was created for student and adult usage, so it isn't quite as filtered or safeguarded. There isn't anything extremely inappropriate, but some images could contain things like alcohol usage and mild adult situations. Students, especially younger students, should be monitored during the usage of this site. Nevertheless, landscapes, citiscapes, and other stock photos are excellent on this site.

*Addition to original post: These sites try their best to filter out inappropriate photos. As with anything online, there is nothing completely safe. Inappropriate pictures could still appear on these sites. However, they are still safer than simply searching google photos.