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Google Applied Digital Skills
Pros: Pairs step-by-step instructions with student choice and creativity to foster learning that sticks.
Cons: Reliance on Google tools and uninterrupted internet connection may not work for everyone.
Bottom Line: Thorough digital literacy curriculum offers mix-and-match options to fit any classroom.
Google Applied Digital Skills can be used as a semester curriculum to teach a digital literacy course or as stand-alone lessons integrated into a core class on an as-needed basis. For example, the If-Then Adventure Story unit fits easily into a creative writing class, but would also be a good project for a history class where students use real events to envision alternative histories. There are several spreadsheet budgeting activities for personal finance class, and librarians can get on board with multiple units focusing on research and technology ethics.
The video tutorial-style, web-based curriculum is designed for students to complete independently, though they're encouraged to seek peer feedback as they progress. However, all of the lessons could also be accomplished in pairs or small groups. The curriculum may also work well in a flipped classroom where students complete the independent activities at home and use class time for brainstorming, editing, and presenting.
Google Applied Digital Skills is a free online curriculum that can be accessed by individual learners or used in a classroom setting. Project-based units help students practice basic digital skills using Google's G Suite for Education applications (Gmail, Docs, Sheets, etc.). Students watch step-by-step video tutorials, pausing to complete activities. Lesson activities range from creating a budget spreadsheet to planning a trip to conducting research and writing a report. Some coding concepts are also integrated into the curriculum, such as programming a script to look for overused words. Units range from one hour to 10 hours of content, with varying levels for seventh-grade to adult learners.
A teacher dashboard manages student assignments and progress, and the curriculum is aligned with ISTE Standards for Students. Students must have Google accounts (school or personal) and connect to a teacher's class using a code. Though the curriculum is self-paced, the lessons encourage collaboration and peer mentorship; some activities require teamwork.
The Google Applied Digital Skills curriculum is great for teachers updating an old-school computer skills class. With an emphasis on creativity, collaboration, and personal interests, this ISTE-aligned curriculum really focuses on modern technology skills. In recent years, digital citizenship and coding skills have gotten a lot of airplay, and for good reason, but often at the expense of some other critical tech skills. Google Applied Digital Skills strives to address college- and career-ready skills, plus life skills like planning a vacation, hosting an event, and making a budget.
The pace may be a little fast for some learners, though students can repeat modules, or teachers can develop extension activities. The video tutorials are simple but well-made, and they're hosted by a diverse group of personable instructors. The activities are purposeful and designed to appeal to a teen audience (such as researching the best phone to buy). And despite the focus on Google products, most of the skills will transfer to other platforms. Most digital literacy curricula are a hodgepodge of teacher-created resources that quickly become outdated. Google Applied Digital Skills is modern, relevant, and surprisingly well-balanced. Give it a try.