Monday, May 7, 2012
Thing 1: Students should understand that websites have biases and bad information. They tend to accept anything they see online as truth, without question.
Thing 2: There is an art to finding information on line. Learning how to use keywords and narrowing search options appropriately are not something students know how to do.
Thing 3: The web is a vast and wonderful resource that should be used all the time for things other than Facebook and social networking.
One of the best resources for teaching how to search and digital literacy is on the Google Website. It is especially good if the teacher and/or students are neophytes. It has very simple and accessible lessons.
Another good website is on the November Learning Page. It goes a little further with searching tips and lessons than the Google resource.
Teaching Digital literacy is easy to do in class. If research is a big part of what you do in the classroom, these lessons should be done at the beginning of the year. It sets the tone and allows to students to have some tools to search with. For an English class it is easy to use these lessons to teach bias and argument. By having students actually search websites on the same subject they can analyze for audience, substantiated vs unsubstantiated evidence, etc.
As for parents, I have always found a well written letter home as well as a discussion at parent night has helped immensely when attempting to do anything parents may deem as scary and/or unnecessary. By getting the info out there well before you do anything, you can keep fires from starting. By addressing the standards and skills you want the students to gain, you justify that you're doing something important to your course and answer most questions before they even know to ask. Transparency is the way I've always handled this.