Simple ways to increase digital readiness among your students
Recently, the Pew Research Center released a report exploring gaps in digital readiness among adults in the USA. While most studies about digital divides during the past few years have focused on access to technology, the focus is now shifting to people’s comfort-level and willingness to use digital devices for personal growth, including ongoing education and enrichment, everyday tasks, and decision-making.
In particular, the study focuses the participants’ use of technology for personal learning, finding that there is a divide between adults who are prepared and willing to use technology and those who are reluctant and unprepared. The researchers recommend that, in order to prepare students for success as adults, teachers focus on digital readiness in the classroom, which they define as having both comfort and confidence when approaching new technology as well as having the ability to determine the credibility of online resources.
Supporting Digital Readiness in the Classroom
By teaching students when they’re young to be flexible and confident with technology, you set them up to be lifelong learners able to find the resources they need to succeed. Here are a few ways you can increase your students’ confidence in their ability to access online resources and their discernment about which sources are trustworthy.
Create a Digital Literacy Lesson
While most of the benchmarks the Pew study used had to do with users’ comfort level and confidence using new technology for personal learning, one of the benchmarks dealt with their trust of the Internet as a source for information. Include a digital literacy lesson in your curriculum to help students better understand how to read and analyze the reliability of online resources.
If you work with the younger grades, start small—maybe with a quick discussion about whether they should believe everything they read or hear followed by a few examples. For older students, a more comprehensive lesson is better, especially for students who are planning to attend college. ReadWriteThink has a good lesson about digital credibility, or try this series of 13 lessons from teachthought.
Develop a Personal Learning Network
Consciously or not, our students tend to follow our lead. Too often, teachers in the classroom express hesitation or frustration when it comes to educational technology. Instead of telegraphing hesitancy, develop a solid personal learning network and communicate your confidence to your students. Online learning and collaboration is cool, fun, and makes your job easier—while showing your students how to take control of their personal and professional development.
Our interactive displays are easy to set-up and simple to use so that you can demonstrate mastery to your students. We also make it easy to connect with other teachers and learners through our Snowflake MultiTeach Lessons Community and Clear Touch Academy.
Assign an Online Learning Project
In addition to modeling ongoing personal learning through technology, teachers can also specifically assign a self-paced, online learning project. Many online educational tools, such as Khan Academy, are completely free to use and help students get ready to use online learning resources in the future. Plus, assigning an online learning project encourages students to take ownership of their learning—an idea that student-centered learning theorists such as Jean Piaget have been advocating for decades.
Use Multiple Devices and Applications in Class
When we teach, it’s easy to fall into our comfort zone—or what we might call a rut. Don’t let this happen with your classroom technology. Demonstrate digital flexibility by using different devices and applications each week. Overall, one of the best things we can do for our students is show them that there is more than one way to learn. There are many, many ways to access information and learn new material, so why not try and test them all out?
This is one reason that Clear Touch emphasizes multiple connectivity for our interactive displays, and why we make sure that our panels work equally well with outside programs as with our extensive educational software suite. We want to make it as easy as possible for teachers to use the full array of tools at their disposal so students gain the confidence they need to pursue learning on their own.
Interestingly, one of the main takeaways from the Pew study is the gap between how participants view themselves, or want to view themselves, and their ability to use online tools for personal learning. According to the study, even though nearly 90% of the adults surveyed indicated that they want to look for opportunities for personal growth and that they hope to stay active and engaged with the world as they age, over half of the respondents fall into the “relatively hesitant” category when it comes to their comfort with technology. Their ambitions do not match their preparedness.
You can bridge this gap for your students. By incorporating some of these simple practices into your classroom, you can help your students better prepare for a digital world—and turn them into confident, lifelong learners who know how to stay connected and grow intellectually, even when they are out of school.