Digital Literacy Education for Teachers?

October 03, 2012
Sarah Jackson
Common Sense Media
San Francisco, United States
CATEGORIES Digital Citizenship, Digital Literacy, Professional Development

We all know educators have varying levels of technical proficiency. If you’re comfortable on a computer you may have become your school’s “accidental techie” -- helping teachers with password glitches, printing problems, and how to find the information they need online.   

If your school applies for E-rate support from the federal government, chances are you’re looking for ways to educate students about Internet safety, appropriate online behavior, and cyberbullying. But if you’re like many educators we’ve heard from, your colleagues could use some education in digital literacy as well. Thankfully instructional technology specialist Lesley Karpiuk has put together this helpful list of four things her colleagues need to know.

By Lesley Karpiuk

As a technology specialist it’s my job to develop training modules, document the various technology that our staff uses, and model effective integration of technology into the classroom for our teachers.

I’ve worked with our over 900 K to 12 teachers, administrators, school board members, and members of our parent teacher organizations in my district on technology projects. Our work together ranges from basic word processing and data analysis to collaborative web 2.0 tools to help improve the delivery of instruction, or how to use assessment data to help drive teacher instruction. Technology is being used as a learning tool to support our curriculum and promote learning and engagement.

This year we plan to teach digital literacy and citizenship to all of the students in our district using some of Common Sense Media's lessons. But we're also working on another important piece: making sure that educators who teach students about these topics should understand them fully as well.

There are, of course, many topics in Common Sense Media’s curriculum and technology training more broadly that I’d love to have space and time develop professional development workshops around. But here are my “big four” -- the place where I’m planning to get started.

Four Things Digitally Literate Educators Need to Know

  1. How does our district prevent students from accessing inappropriate content on the Internet? What are the requirements and what’s my role?
  1. How do I help my students stay safe and secure while appropriately using e-mail, chat rooms, social media, and other forms of electronic communication. When should personally identifiable information be used online? How do I stay safe as a professional?
  1. Helping educators understand the importance of unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of students’ personal information.
  1. Demonstrating the dangers and consequences of unauthorized access (i.e. “hacking”). Helping teachers know what to do if faced with cyberbullying, and other unlawful or inappropriate activities by students online.

What else? As I put this course together I’d love some feedback. Have any educators out there held a similar training program in their own district? What do you think should be included in this list? Have you developed a module that you use to educate your teachers?

Lesley Karpiuk is an Instructional Technology Specialist in Carmel, Indiana.