Jim Gates - jgates513@gmail.com

Digital Literacy Skills

Students may well have few inhibitions or fears when it comes to exploring technology, but evidence doesn't support the notion that they somehow just know how to do things like rich internet searches or how (or why) to edit images or even how to manage their bookmarks. This session will focus on those digital skills. The whys and the how-tos and how teaching and learning changes when those skills are present.


We ask students to work with digital media all the time. From researching online and managing what they find, to editing and presenting their reports, students are living with digital media. Students live in a hypertext world, yet few know how to create a hyperlink. They live with digital images and sounds yet know very little about how to edit them. We tend to assume that because they're the "digital natives" that they somehow automatically know how to do al that we ask them to do.

Such is not the case.


A starting point - a slideshare that shows some skills that students need in order to be successful right now. This slideshare lists some talking points for the kinds of skills we're discussing.


  • Research skills - The answer to almost any question (including the meaning of life, the Universe, and everything) can be found online. We'll explore how to research beyond just basic searches. We'll see how to find the syntax for advanced searches, and we'll discuss how those advanced searches change the kinds of assignments that are possible. How does the purpose of education change when the answer to ANY fill-in-the-blank question can be found in seconds?
  • Managing Resources - Once students have found their sites, how do they manage them? How can they share them with others? How can they discuss them with others? Simply bookmarking them on the computer they're using won't make them available when they use a different computer. We'll explore options for saving those resources and discuss how teaching and learning changes when students have access to all of their findings. (Since this session is one of the full sessions we'll only discuss this as needed to ensure that everyone knows what it is and why they should be familiar with it.)
  • Image handling - Simply resizing an image by dragging its handles does NOT change the weight of the image. The idea of being able to quickly and easily resize an image is a basic media skill. With all the tools available to do that, there's no excuse not to teach it to students.
  • Aggregators- News and information changes by the second. A basic skill in this day and age is the ability to gather news feeds into one spot. An aggregator is very easy to create and very powerful. With this tool students and teachers can be gathering the latest news in one web application.
  • Copyright and Creative Commons- Even if Fair Use applied to every instance where students used an image they found online, if they graduate today without an understanding of where to go to find and use Creative Commons images we've done them a disservice. We'll see where those images are and how to use them.
  • Presentation skills- The problem with assigning 'PowerPoints' to students is that you have to listen to each one. That wouldn't be so bad if students didn't animate every bullet and write every word they intend to say as bullets. We'll explore two ways to use powerpoint that will eliminate the dreaded animated bullets.
    • pecha kucha - (pronounced peh-chalk'-cha) - twenty slides, twenty seconds each. No bullets
    • ignite - Supposed to be funny (example), but ignore that. Twenty slides, fifteen seconds each, no bullets. I prefer this one. Talking for 20 seconds can be too difficult for students.
  • Hyperlinks - Students read in hyperlinks frequently. The web is full of them. Yet, they rarely have to write a hyperlink. We'll explore the power of being able to write a hyperlink and examine some powerful assignment ideas. The "wikified" paper.