The digital world has become an integral part of our everyday lives: whether it’s to find answers to questions; to communicate, collaborate and share with others; to buy or sell; or to design and publish. It is vital that students develop the digital literacy skills and knowledge to be safe, discerning and empowered users of the internet, apps and online tools.

Students no longer just receive information. Increasingly they are creating and sharing their own resources and opinions. Students need to be critical, discriminating and thoughtful creators of digital technologies. Critical thinking is something we have taught our students forever. Online it’s essential, as is developing an understanding how different technologies work and can be used safely.

Understanding ME WE SEE – ME (Private), WE (Shared), and SEE (Public, Global) spaces is essential for all. Audience, purpose and etiquette online varies depending on the space. Click on the image to view Professor Stephen Heppell discussing the  use of digital technologies in Victorian schools. 

Students need to know the difference and have the skills to operate confidently in any of the digital spaces.

Things for students to think about include:

  • What they are doing with on the internet?  Is it social, entertainment or about their learning? It’s easy for us to get side tracked, surfing aimlessly, but great to establish the original mission.
  • When they find something ask themselves- Who is presenting or sharing this information? Are they trustworthy? What agenda(s) or bias might the creator have?
  • Who owns the website, tool or space – Can they tell by the domain? For example, .com is a commercial, for-profit business, .org is a not-for-profit organisation, .edu is an educational organisation and .gov is a government agency. Does this influence their search?
  • What country does the resource come from? Is it .au (Australian); .uk (United Kingdom); .ca (Canadian)? Websites without a country identifier are often from the USA.
    A valuable teaching point is to consider cultural biases presented online? e.g. Do countries present history differently? Even things like their different measurements are worth considering.
  • What do the sites or spaces expect from a user?  Have they asked for any personal information? If so, what do they say they are going to do with that information? What if they don’t say? Are they reputable? What do other people say about them online? Get a second opinion and search the web for the opinions of others if it doesn’t seem right.
  • Encourage students to use their “Smarts” If the site seems OK, take some time to see what it’s all about. If alarm bells are ringing, GET OUT! Let an adult know if they see anything that upsets or distresses them or if they just aren’t sure.

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