Digital Literacy – 8 lessons that are needed for students & teachers

Digital Literacy has exploded over the past year, especially with the recent Common Core integration. Students (and some Staff) need to learn how to become proactive digital citizens. From understanding safe behavior online, to learning how to find reliable sources, to even seeing how online activity leaves a lasting identity trail–these topics below should be taught by all teachers and shared by all administrators:

1. Understanding a Digital Foot Print – students need to know about their activities and actions online. Wherever you click, wherever you comment, whatever you do – – it’s leaving a digital foot print for all to see. Google yourself right now and see what comes up; chances are, you’ll find a thing or two (and perhaps someone else that has the same name – – and to Jay Eitner out in Utah, I’m sorry! ) about yourself. Teachers need to stress the importance of their student’s actions online; from Facebook to Formspring, it’s there forever. A great lesson to use with students would be Common Sense’s “Trillion Dollar Footprint”:

2. Online Privacy – We’re all guilty of clicking on the ‘terms of use’ (privacy policy) check-box before exploring a website or opening up a new app. Students need to be aware of what those terms are, what data they are collecting, and what they are using that data for. Vocabulary terms that should be reviewed include ‘cookies’, ‘third-party’ company, and ‘privacy policies’. Cyber Smart Curriculum offers a great lesson plan on this:

3. Understanding “Fair Use” – with a plethora of media websites where you can upload videos, music, poetry, and everything else, the opportunity to acquire others’ work is simple. Such acquiring happens so much that most students think that people can take whatever they want online and just use that material whenever they wish. The concept of ‘Fair Use’ needs to be explored by students and shown that one can’t just take whatever, whenever, change it up a bit, and now call it their own. A great website with tons of lesson plans and handouts (and yes, they are OK to use):

4. Chatting Online – Most students have grown up with a computer in their home, and often chatting with people online. While students are pretty keen with not giving away personal information, students can have difficulties in determining what is Inappropriate, risky, what an online predator is, and what to do if someone is asking that they should keep their communication online a secret – AKA ‘online grooming’. A classic lesson that works well is the Internet Traffic Light. You can find the lesson plan here:

5. Online Behavior & Online Personalities – students often try to act much older online, and when they do, they often go onto websites or chat-rooms that are geared for adults. Students need to know the consequences of lying or trying to be someone else online. Lying or pretending to be someone else online can lead to engaging in inappropriate conversations, cyber-bullying or even worse. A great lesson plan starter with handouts:

6. Cyber-bullying: Harassment, Intimidation, Bullying has sadly taken national spotlight. Bullying awareness is a cornerstone is every classroom today. Gone are the days of just getting bullied for milk money at the flagpole; the internet has opened up an entire floodgate of new ways to bully. Students need to be aware of the different types of cyber-bullying, and if they are being / know someone who is being bullied, what they can do / where they can go for assistance. With so many resources on this out there today, I suggest this lesson plan:

7. Determining websites that are credible – Billions of websites are online, and new one appears every time you blink.  Students (and often times adults) are faced with the challenge of what website is factual and what is for entertainment.  A website needs to be evaluated, trustworthy, and unbiased.  ALL internet users need to learn how to navigate to safe, trustworthy, factual websites.  A great lesson plan for helping students (and adults) with this:

8. Improving research skills by utilizing effective keywords: students can effectively research topics by using appropriate vocabulary. Using search engines with limited, yet specific wording will enhance your time to find appropriate information.  A great website to help you get started with a lesson plan:


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