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Arkansas State University

Adding Digital Literacy to Literacy Learning

Traditionally, literacy education has focused on teaching reading comprehension, writing and effective communication. However, as modern forms of communication, collaboration and research shift increasingly to digital formats, digital literacy has become an important facet of overall literacy education.

In order to succeed in school and beyond, students need to understand how to navigate the digital world. This includes knowing how to use technology in the classroom to research, critically evaluate and process information as well as creating and communicating within a digital context. Integrating digital literacy into literacy learning is an essential component of a graduate degree in reading education, such as an online Masters of Science in Education in Reading.

Teaching Digital Literacy Like Reading Comprehension

Although digital literacy is essential to literacy learning, integrating it into standards-based curricula can be challenging. The integrated approach to teaching reading comprehension can be useful in digital literacy instruction as well. This approach applies the principles of reading instruction across subject-matter curricula. Similarly, digital literacy instruction should follow students through every subject. This can help students develop a well-rounded grasp of digital literacy and its applications.

What Is Digital Literacy?

Definitions of digital literacy vary widely, but most incorporate a few basic ideas: digitally literacy is proficiency with digital technologies to gather, evaluate and process information in order to create and communicate across digital media. Using computers, tablets and even phones to access information and communicate is now a part of everyday life. Using technology in the classroom, active learning and creating to encourage digital literacy learning at a young age will help students understand how to be productive in the digital world, both in the classroom and beyond.

Evaluating Information

Modern research is now overwhelmingly digital, so students need to learn how to find good, reliable information — a great deal of the information on the internet is merely subjective opinion. Students, therefore, need to learn how to critically evaluate what they find and where they find it. Teaching critical thinking and evaluation is an important part of effective digital literacy education.

The Benefits of Digital Media

If traditional literacy means the ability to read and write effectively, then digital literacy means the ability to communicate and create digitally. Students today communicate via email, messaging and social media platforms. Incorporating these forms of communication into the classroom through collaborative online projects, classroom blogs and even online discussion threads can be an effective way to improve digital literacy. Assigning creative projects that use digital skills, such as making short films that incorporate digital media, can help students learn how to use digital technologies in different contexts.

Digital literacy is now a fundamental component of literacy learning, from teaching reading comprehension to writing and communication. Creative teachers in any field who incorporate literacy education through the use of digital technologies, combined with critical evaluation, can help their students navigate the digital world.

Learn more about Arkansas State University’s online MSE in Reading program.


Powerful Learning Practice: How to Infuse Digital Literacy Throughout the Curriculum

International Literacy Association: Knowing the Difference Between Digital Skills and Digital Literacies, and Teaching Both

International Literacy Association: Perspectives of Digital Literacies

Education Week: What Digital Literacy Looks Like in a Classroom

TeachHUB: Technology in the Classroom: What Is Digital Literacy?

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