Contributing to digital literacy

Most teachers think about digital literacy on a daily basis even if they don't use those exact words. Instead,  conversations center around the "junk" kids find on the internet. Or maybe they complain about students believing that a human can also be part tree because of what they saw online. The solution is typically to chat with the kids about taking ideas with a grain of salt. We teach critical reading, listening and thinking. As always, we are hard at work teaching our charges to be literate about their world.

There is a part of digital literacy we don't always think about, however. That is, we are often responsible for putting content online. Is the content we add valuable? Is it authoritative? If you are on Twitter, consider the things you post. Every time you link one of your posts to a blog, you increase it's rank in Google search. If you comment on blogs, those comments add context to the original post. Your online footprint adds to what is online.

Since we want our students to be able to evaluate internet material for bias, authority, timeliness and relevance, we have to do more than just talk a good talk. We need to do what we can to add to the quality of the internet. In many ways this is a classic dilemma for every teacher. Our calling is to teach kids how to be upstanding adults. Our actions in public teach students more about how to be grown up than anything we say in class. In the same way, we teach kids to be good digital citizens. We must therefore be careful about what goes into our online footprint.