Digital literacy is related to the effective and appropriate use of technology. According to Cornell University (n.d.), digital literacy is the “ability to find, evaluate, utilize, share, and create content using information technologies and the Internet.”
Digital literacy should encompass a variety of skills which are essential to the 21st century student. These skills include: critical thinking, collaboration, communication, flexibility, creativity, leadership, productivity, and social skills. These skills, each unique, are essential to help guide students in today’s fast-paced technological entities.
Students today rely more and more on the World Wide Web as a primary source of information for their academic work. As educators, we have an obligation to teach students how to evaluate information to ensure that this information is indeed accurate. It is important to focus on effective ways to evaluate the quality and credibility of information. When I talk to my students about credible resources, I show them an example of trustworthy versus untrustworthy resources. I also explain to them what makes an online source trustworthy. Finally, I tell them that trustworthy online sources, should encourage them to critically think about what they are taking away from these sources. Teaching in the Health Sciences programs, I explain to my students that websites such a “Web MD” are not trustworthy as these sites are geared toward to lay person and are very simplistic. These sites often lack details and medical terminology. I strongly encourage students to utilize scholarly articles. These sources are very trustworthy since they are peer-reviewed, have author information listed on the article, have a date listed, and shows proper grammar, language, and punctuation.
The digital age is here and it is here to stay. As educators, we need to stop burying our heads in the sand. As educators, it is our responsibility to not only teach our students the appropriate use of digital literacy, but to make sure that we are comfortable with digital literacy and that we are using digital literacy appropriately in our classrooms.