Digital & Information Literacy: Choosing the Best Sources

What is Digital Literacy?

Digital Literacy, according to the ALA is the "ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, and communicate information requiring both cognitive and technical skills".

Students who are strong in Digital Literacy could be considered "Knowledge Constructors" under the ISTE Standards and can "plan and employ effective research strategies" and "evaluate accuracy, perspective, credibility and relevance of information" amongst other skills.

For elementary students this means that they can identify the very best places to go to find information and can demonstrate persistence in looking for information that meets their needs and ability.

For teachers it helps to direct students to quality information sources from the very beginning and provide them with enough choice so that they can begin to develop an understanding of the strategies to find the best information.

I would recommend a "tiered approach" to looking for information. It helps if students get into a habit of looking for information in the best sources first: Books and Databases. The second tier for exploring would include high quality websites like BrainPOP and Newsela, the third tier would be conducting an effective search on a kid friendly search engine like Kiddle, and finally students should understand that for academic work they should avoid using Wikipedia as a source, but instead explore the sources cited on Wikipedia.

The  graphic below includes links to sources, along with how to videos.

 


 

 Using KYVL: Overview 

The Kentucky Virtual Library is a great resource that we have available to us with high quality databases.  The available databases allow students and teachers to access information at appropriate reading levels.  When searching databases, be sure to instruct your students to check their spelling - the databases don't often autocorrect.

Get an overview of how to use KYVL here:

For more information on using the individual databases, checkout the KYVL playlist on YouTube.

 Digital Literacy Includes Using Images and Music Responsibly

In education it is easy to make an excuse that any image and song are free game since it's being used for an educational purpose. In reality, we aren't doing our students any favors by letting them use any image they find off of Google Image search or any song they have in their personal library.


It's important to teach students about mindfully selecting images that they have permission to use either through subscription services like Britannica Image Quest or through sites that let them search for Creative Commons Licensed work like Photos For Class.


If students are unable to find what they are looking for on one of these sites, they can do an advanced image search on Google, where they search for images that are labeled for reuse with modification.

For songs, have students stick to music and jingles that are available in applications they are already using like iMovie or loops in Garageband.
Google Image Search by Usage Rights




Citing Sources

Even our youngest students are capable of citing their sources, even if it just means giving the title of their source at the primary level.  At the intermediate level, students should be encouraged to record source material as they are doing their research including title, author, publisher or website, and important dates. 

Students can easily create a Works Cited page using Microsoft Word on the desktop computers.  Check out the how to video below:


 
Helping students develop digital and information literacy skills will help them navigate in a media rich digital age. Teaching students to assess sources of information for quality and accuracy from, even the kindergarten age, will provide them with a much needed foundation to become 21st Century "Knowledge Constructors" and critical thinkers.

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