Whose responsibility is it to teach digital and media literacy skills?

Digital and media literacy is a paramount characteristic of a successful student in this day in age and is built on three values, per Digital Medial Fundamentals (n.d.) – use, understand and create. Students who are able to demonstrate the technical ability to participate in the basic functions of computers show ability of use. Students who can evaluate and comprehend digital media messages, as well as make educated decisions about how they interact with technology,

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Image retrieved from: http://www.wallpapervortex.com/wallpaper-53657_1_miscellaneous_digital_art_digital_brain.html#.WXJcu4QrKpo

exercising caution, evaluating credible sources, and understanding how their behavior and feelings can be manipulated by the messages demonstrate the ability to understand. Students who can produce digital content using multimedia tools such as audio and video and photos, etc. providing a clear, thoughtful, intentional message demonstrate the ability to create.

In this day-in-age, teaching digital and media literacy to children is a shared responsibility. It begins with parents, who will likely be the first to teach them use. Children will play with their parents’ cellular phones and tablets and computers long before stepping foot in a classroom, therefore, it is the responsibility of parents to instill a sense of cautiousness in children when using computers and/or the internet.

Once students are school-aged, parents as well as educators including teachers, librarians, administration, etc. are typically tasked with developing a student’s ability to understand the messages. They should do their best to instill a sense of curiousity in students, encouraging them to question the validity of the content, and intentions of the context and message, supporting the student to grow into a responsible digital citizen.

Educators and student inherent motivation and curiosity will likely set students toward becoming creators. Ensuring that students understand the impact their message will have on audiences is a tall task to put on educators alone. Teaching this responsibility also lies within peers through feedback and discussion as well as educators and parents. Learning digital and media literacy is not something that ends at graduation either – it is part of an ever-changing, dynamic learning experience that spans a lifetime. In short, digital and media literacy is taught by essentially everyone; parents, educators, peers and in many cases is self-taught. In the words of George Santayana (1935), “a child educated only at school is an uneducated child.”

Questions: 

How do you, as an educator, encourage your students to exercise caution whilst using computers or the internet? Have you seen effective tools to instill that?

Resources: 

Internet & Digital Media Safety

14 Free & Simple Media Tools

How can I tell if a website is credible?

References: 

Digital literacy fundamentals. (n.d.). Retrieved from: http://mediasmarts.ca/digital-media-literacy-fundamentals/digital-literacy-fundamentals

Santayana, G. (1935, April). Why am I not a Marxist?. Modern Monthly, 9, pp. 77-79.

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