Digital literacy is an essential 21st-century skill. The ability to find, evaluate, share, and utilize online resources is vital to the success of every student. Fostering digital equity and balancing the precarious digital divide is one of the most significant challenges in education today. The need for improved literacy rates and education became evident in the wake of the pandemic.
The post-pandemic educational landscape looks different than before. Learning at every level includes accessing e-books, videos, websites, and social media. Therefore, access to technology is essential for learning.
A new report from the World Economic Forum claims one-third of the world’s school-age students, or approximately 465 million students, did not have access to remote learning during the pandemic. Teachers and authorities in digital literacy development and those with exposure to and training in the tools and skills needed to develop digital literacy are vital to modern K-12 education.
Educators looking to meet the needs of students and enhance their knowledge of digital literacy development might consider an online Master of Education in Elementary Education from Worcester State University. The program is the perfect course to help educators tackle today’s digital disparities.
Bridging the Digital Literacy Gap
Digital literacy means having the access you need to live and learn in a society where access to information and communication is done digitally through technologies like social media, internet platforms, and mobile devices.
When a digital divide stands in the way of obtaining a quality education, it becomes a knowledge divide. A new report from the International Literacy Association suggests parents, teachers, caregivers, and community members work together to bridge the digital literacy gap. Researchers claim that addressing and highlighting some of the complicated arguments around the issue helps overcome differences.
Education and community leaders can encourage and promote involvement from families in addressing the digital divide. There are many ways communities and schools can provide programs that offer greater access to technologies and Wi-Fi. Here are a few ideas:
- Seek and secure funding for more robust connectivity in public places
- Provide family access to technologies through rentals for home use and in community centers
- Encourage students to become digital inventors by providing space to invent new digital technologies
- Develop and encourage shared research and practice
When schools, families, and communities work together to fight inequities and bridge gaps, impactful and meaningful changes are made and realized.
Integrating Digital Literacy Into Classrooms
It’s essential to start digital literacy programs in kindergarten. Teachers agree that digital media education and exposure prepare young children with the skills to engage in technology responsibly and safely. Digital literacy expands the scope of traditional literacy to include e-learning skills that incorporate audio and video for strengthening listening and viewing abilities.
Digital technology education empowers and educates students, allowing them to thrive in the constantly evolving digital world. An article posted on Education Corner claims digital competency prompts critical thinking, learning outside the classroom and practical communication.
Kids’ imaginations thrive when exposed to technological innovations. Digital literacy development beginning in elementary school and continuing through high school provides exciting new ways of learning and interacting.
Fostering Digital Equity
The unequal access to technology creates division and inequality regarding access to resources and information. Bridging the digital divide isn’t just a social or political problem. It’s a deep-rooted societal issue that can be eliminated when economic, social, and political forces join.
Teachers can help bridge the gap by developing digital literacy programs beginning in elementary school. A new article on Learning suggests that making digital literacy a priority in K-12 education schools and learning institutions can help improve digital literacy among underrepresented groups. Educators say this early digital education helps to instruct students so they may have increased career opportunities in the future.
Thus, the study of digital literacy and educational technology integration is now a core component of advanced educator preparation programs. Worcester State’s Technology and Literacy in the Classroom course is a good example. Working educators wanting to enhance their effectiveness in teaching should consider the online Master of Education in Elementary Education from Worcester State with 100% online coursework and pay-by-the-course tuition.
Learn more about Worcester State University’s online Master of Education in Elementary Education program.