Tag Archives: digital literacy

Common Sense Media Free iBooks on Digital Literacy & Citizenship

If you are interested in rolling out a Digital Literacy and Digital Citizenship Curriculum in your school, check out these free iBooks from Common Sense Media. There are teachers manuals as well as student workbooks – all of which are entirely free.

You can learn more about the curriculum at Common Sense Media’s Blog and by checking out the video below.

Interactive Imagery: Blogging with Students & Thinglink

My school uses edubologs as our primary blogging platform. Just a month ago, they announced a massive upgrade that, much to my eagerness, included activation of the Thinglink widget. Thinglink is an online tool that allows you to create dynamic, embedded images out of your own images. As such, you can take a stagnant image and create a dynamic, multimodal project.

We are finishing up the American Civil War in my U.S. History Class. The Civil War was the first, broadly documented war in American History. There are repositories of tens of thousands of images through the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, and various other private and public institutions. Thus… my students had a project. They were assigned to find a meaningful image (not necessarily of a famous individual or event, but an image that had purpose) and to expand upon that image using multi-media. The image must be properly cited and and license-free (if you would like to learn more about finding license-free images for your classes, see my post: “Find Free and Legal Images for your Classroom“).

They then had to post this image on our class blog along with a brief paragraph highlighting why they chose this image as well as demonstrate critical assessment and thought in curating content to embed. In other words, don’t just throw together a bunch of links on an image. This allowed students to explore Digital Literacy in conjunction with performing individualized research on the Civil War. They then presented these projects to the class.

This was an excellent, creative project for students to stretch their intellectual muscle in conjunction with a creative element. Now, unfortunately, thinglink does not work on my own blogs. However, here are some great examples of their work along with links for you to check them out!:

Railroads & Steam Engines

Civil War Amputation

Map of Civil War Events

Infographic: Digital Citizenship

This is an excellent infographic from Nancy White that highlights teaching all elements of digital citizenship: Digital Communication, Digital Literacy, Online Behavior, and more. You can view the original image here.

Digital-Citizenship-infographic

Copyright and Fair Use for Educators

One of the key components of Digital Literacy is understanding the concept of copyright (protected physical and intellectual material) and Fair Use (limited exceptions granted to educational environments). This is a notoriously gray area in the online world. I addressed this concept in my article, “How to Find License Free Content for School Projects.” Additionally, I try to build digital literacy (including copyright issues) into my broader instructional framework. You can see an example of this in my recent article, “Student Documentaries in History Class.”

Edutopia addresses this issue in their 5 minute video collection, “Copyright and Faire Use for Educators.” This assemblage addresses concerns across grade levels and subject matter. If you would like to see an example of one of these videos, checkout Copyright on Campus’ video below:

To learn more, be sure to visit Edutopia!

Edutopia’s Big List of Digital Citizenship Resources

Courtesy of superkimbo and Flickr

Courtesy of superkimbo and Flickr

This is the end of Digital Citizenship Week. Edutopia, one of the best resources for educational technology, has gathered an excellent repository of resources, stories, and lesson plans to help you and your students become positive digital citizens. The topics they cover include: internet safety, cyberbullying, digital responsibility, media & digital literacy, and more! Check out their full list here.

You should also check out some of the relevent videos they post in their Big Thinker Series. Check out this one from Mimi Ito on Social Media as Spaces of Learning.

Excellent Resources for Public Domain Pictures

wikimediacommonsI posted a few months ago some suggestions to help students and teachers “Find License Free Content for Schools.”Educational Technology and Mobile Learning has added some additional resources. Check out their list at “7 Excellent Resources for Public Domain Pictures.” Some cross post with my list, others are new. Great tools for teaching kids about Public Domain, Copyright, Creative Commons, and other forms of digital literacy.

Combating Plagiarism on the Digital Frontier

This post, written by Jen Carey, originally appeared on Edudemic.

Plagiarism, defined as the “wrongful appropriation” of another’s words or ideas, is a pervasive problem in schools. Many teachers and administrators believe that the internet has caused an explosion of academic dishonesty (a recent PEW survey of College Presidents would agree). While, most teachers and administrators are familiar with tools like turnitin that can catch plagiarism after the fact, there are some ways that educators can combat plagiarism before it starts!

In the new digital frontier, we need to hold digital literacy at the forefront when teaching students how to use and incorporate material into their work. Today’s students are used to rapid answers to questions via quick searches (again, verified by PEW in “How Teens Do Research”). While this is not necessarily bad, it does mean that as educators we need to change the way we approach research projects in the classroom so that we can teach students to not only do traditional research, but also to effectively use online media and content. By incorporating these strategies, we can start to combat plagiarism before it begins.

3 Strategies for Combating Plagiarism

1. Provide students with meaningful lessons and examples of “real world” plagiarism.

Students need to understand why proper citation and documentation is necessary not only in academic research but in “real life.” When you can show them examples from the real world, they understand this concept better as they make a personal connection to it. Here are some great modern, pop culture cases (there are many others) to help frame the discussion:

Not only do these examples highlight plagiarism, but they also spark interesting conversations about why people want credit for their products and ideas.

2. Make Research Assignments about the process rather than the end product.

As teachers, when we assign a research project, we often focus on the end product: the research essay, presentation, etc. However, students (especially young students) do not automatically know how to conduct meaningful research. Our modern students are used to Googling answers. They have grown accustomed to information being readily available. However, as academics, we know that research isn’t a fast process. It’s slow and deliberate. As a teacher, I need to intentionally slow my students down during this exercise. I do this by breaking down a larger project into more manageable chunks and focusing on the process. Here are some techniques that have worked for me:

  • Give students small practice assignments where they must read, summarize, and properly cite material.
  • Show students what proper citation should look like. Many rely on resources like EasyBib or Bibme to build a bibliography but do not understand what exactly is going into the finished product. Demonstrate to them what should be included in a citation and why. In other words, remove the “but EasyBib said this was right” excuse.
  • Provide students several examples or case studies of material that they must distinguish as: properly summarized and cited, improperly cited, plagiarized, etc. Allow them to identify and explain the problems.
  • During the research process, have students keep a research journal of the work they complete. Ask them to record their sources and write down any thoughts or questions that they brought up.
  • Assign steps throughout the process: a detailed outline, a series of quotations with citations, a bibliography, a summary of their argument, etc.

By focusing on the process and breaking it down into smaller chunks, students will learn to slow down and be more deliberate in research, developing key critical analysis skills.

3. Require that they use online content!

Instead of banning Wikipedia, blogs, or other online content, encourage or even require that students incorporate these materials into their work. For better or worse, students will use material that they find online. Once students gain the analytical skills to assess the credibility of online sources, there is a treasure trove of information to be incorporated. Embrace the potential to teach students how to harness the internet to conduct powerful research.

  • Teach students to search effectively. In his piece “Why kids can’t search,” Clive Thompson recognized that while, “High School and College Students may be ‘digital natives,’… they’re wretched at searching.” Students need to be taught how to use search engines to find legitimate sources and information.
  • Teach students to evaluate online content of all media types (written, encyclopedic, podcasts, video, etc). There are many tools out there for teaching critical analysis of online content, Cal State Chico’s CRAAP test and Turnitin.com’s SEER rubric are both great places to start. You can even use some popular internet hoaxes like the Pacific Northwest tree octopus (Google it and see what you find!!)
  • Don’t shy away from Wikipedia as a source. The majority of high school and college age students will reference Wikipedia in a research project. Even in academia, the attitude towards Wikipedia is changing. Treat it the same way you would a standard Encyclopedia – it’s a good starting point, but not the end of research. EdTechTeacher has a great Webinar “Wikipedia: Bane or Blessing?” that can guide you here.
  • Focus on transliteracy – how should a student evaluate a Wikipedia article vs. a blog vs. a tweet? Do not hold them to one type of source.

Teaching students to do real, meaningful research not only combats plagiarism, it also makes them better students and critical thinkers. These are the 21st century skills that will serve them throughout life. It will also help to limit those conversations we have all had with a child that turns in work that is not their own. By teaching students how to effectively navigate content of all types, we are promoting academic integrity as well as necessary, real world skills.

To learn more about teaching digital literacy, EdTechTeacher is hosting a series of Summer workshops many of which will specifically address online research and education.