My strong opinion about the importance of digital literacy is centered around the class experience that I had with my 5th graders as their technology teacher. I started the year with certain expectations that I wanted my students to understand. We started by explaining the importance of email accounts and the difference in how you would write an email to a teacher and how you would write an email to a friend.
We discussed Gchat and how important it is to set your status as “busy” if you are in class so that your friends will know that you are doing work and you don’t want to be disturbed. We viewed blogs and commented as a class on those blogs talking about the specific genre expectations that we noticed. Then, we set up our own class blog and began to record what we were doing and learning in class. This was all what I had planned for the class, but I could tell that my students were getting it much faster than I thought they would.
At this point, I took a risk and a leap and helped them set up their own individual blogs. I was nervous and concerned that I would get parent phone calls and I would get push back from my principal, but my students handled their blogs responsibly and really took ownership of what they wrote. They understood their audience and the expectations of writing in that digital realm.
Not only that, but I also saw reluctant writers who were writing on their blogs every night. Literally, our classroom was being expanded beyond the four walls of 303 and into their homes. They were spending time exploring and writing and citing what they had discovered without being asked. I wish I could say that I planned this part, but I didn’t. I honestly was unsure that 5th graders would be responsible enough to understand what it meant to post in a digital realm.
I was wrong.
In fact, maybe better than many adults understand.