The importance of digital literacy in schools

Digital literacy. We’ve all heard about it but what does it really mean? According to the American Library Association (ALA), digital literacy is “the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information.”

In other words, it’s more than being able to navigate social media platforms or find information via search engines; it’s acquiring the technical and cognitive skills to “find, understand, evaluate, create, and communicate digital information in a wide variety of formats”. In return, it entails using these transferable skills in the workplace and contributing to a “vibrant, informed and engaged community.”

The importance of digital literacy

The pandemic has fast-tracked the growth of online learning. In fact studies have suggested that it’s a more efficient learning method for students. With more stay-home time, students turn to their devices for entertainment. Smart technology has also taken over our homes as families begin to purchase devices like smart fridges and TVs to make their lives easier. If our young people are not digitally literate, it makes them vulnerable to online threats such as scams and phishing.

With this in mind, it has become more pertinent than ever to educate and guide our young people in digital literacy—which is where the school comes in.

Digital literacy and education

So how does digital literacy tie in with the school curriculum? It’s not just about learning to use the computer, it’s also about integrating technology with classroom activities and curriculum to provide rich and meaningful 21st century learning experiences. Digital literacy doesn’t replace traditional ways of teaching literacy either; it builds on them to help students learn traditional subjects in creative and innovative ways.

So if you’re on the lookout for a good school, then consider one that looks beyond traditional classrooms and embraces technology in a healthy yet responsible way to develop forward-thinking global citizens equipped with 21st century skills. CIS, for example, adopts the K-12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum as a Common Sense Digital Citizenship Certified School. This comprehensive curriculum is designed to empower students to think critically, behave safely and participate responsibly in the digital world.

How digital literacy looks like at CIS

At CIS, the curriculum is guided by six core topics of digital citizenship:

1. Media balance and digital wellbeing: finding balance in our digital life

2. Privacy and security: caring about privacy

3. Digital footprint and identity: defining who we are

4. Relationships and communication: understanding the power of words and actions

5. Cyberbullying, digital drama and hate speech: kindness and courage

6. News and media literacy: developing critical thinkers and creators

To facilitate the curriculum, CIS incorporates the ‘One to World’ programme’. It’s led by its Digital Literacy Coaches (DLC) who guide students on learning how to think critically and ethically as they harness technology in their learning, behave responsibly and safely online, identify important information on the Internet and use technology as a tool to showcase their skills and talents.

Under the ‘One to World’ programme, it’s compulsory for students in grades 4 to 6 to bring an iPad to school every day. The same goes for students in grades 7 to 12; they bring their own MacBook to school on a daily basis.

A communal effort

Needless to say, CIS students are not the only ones benefitting from its digital citizenship curriculum. CIS has set up a robust Educational Tech Coach team to help teachers and parents so they, too, can guide students in the classroom and at home. The reason for this is simple: nurturing young people to become digitally literate global citizens is a team effort between parents and the school.

The DLCs also work with grade-level teams and advisory classes to integrate digital citizenship lessons into the curriculum. For instance, students taking art learn how an image can be manipulated to create creative art pieces. The DLC team makes it a point to investigate every digital incident at school as well; they work with students to reflect and set goals for future improvement.

And that’s not all. CIS devotes a week to digital wellbeing where its DLCs lead students in discussions on how they can maintain a healthy digital diet and look after their digital wellbeing. In other words, digital literacy is not an afterthought at CIS—it’s part and parcel of the curriculum that’s designed to make a savvy, responsible, respectful, and informed global citizen of your child.

Sounds good? Then visit CIS’s website for more information or drop its admissions team an inquiry.