Digital Literacy- Embracing 21st Century Skills

The word ‘Literacy’ generally refers to reading and writing. However, with the word ‘Digital’ appended to it, the term encompasses much more. Digital Literacy is defined as the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills. Given the new and ever changing ways we use technology to access and communicate information, it is pertinent that students acquire these skills in an age-appropriate and time bound manner. At B.D. Somani, we aim to make students digitally literate to become responsible content creators in addition to content consumers. Digital literacy is also essential for students to become responsible and informed digital citizens. Learning how to use devices like computers, laptops, mobile phones does not make for a digitally literate student. It’s about learning how to use these devices correctly, apart from some of the other essential skills, such as searching effectively, protecting their private information, and understanding digital footprints
Introduction to Information Technology (IT) as a subject from Kindergarten prepares young children for the skills they need to engage in technology both safely and responsibly. Children in Kindergarten adapt to technology naturally, making it the best time to teach Internet technology skills. It’s time for them to create relationships between the written and visual word for better communication with others.
We start this lifelong learning from Kindergarten, by teaching them what a computer is and exploring its various parts. The most important part is teaching them how to hold and use a mouse correctly. We show them the appropriate mouse movements like click-move-click, drag-and-drop via educational games to spike their interest levels. We proceed by teaching them Tux Paint, an interactive software to help build mouse skills and unleash their creativity to draw and paint.
In Grades 1 and 2, we introduce an important word processing software, Microsoft Word. The uses of this software are unimaginable. It not only teaches students the basics of font-formatting tools but also improves their ability to transform a simple paragraph into charts, tables, smart-art, shapes and various other visual objects that benefit students as they gain a practical and visual approach towards the topic. With that, we highlight the importance of using a keyboard and introduce touch-typing.

Grade 3 moves on ahead from Microsoft Word to being able to use their imagination and creativity to make presentations on Google Slides/Microsoft PowerPoint including graphics and slide designs. Presentation skills help students create inventive and innovative ideas to illustrate their talk. The use of presentations makes talking interesting and this can help develop students’ confidence. When creating slides, students are encouraged to critically evaluate the visuals used, the message they want to convey through the visuals, and the efficient use of text with an emphasis on brevity and preciseness. Students are usually given 15 minutes to present a specific topic in the classroom. The more they present, the more they learn hence, improving their confidence.

In Grades 4 and 5, students are always looking for answers to their questions by visiting search engines like Google, Bing, etc. Google is a very powerful tool to search for answers. However, there is a significant difference between Googling to find an answer and understanding it. We want students to gain the deepest level of understanding when faced with a problem. In this era of digital information and communication, students need to develop digital competencies like online research. We do so by teaching them how to conduct effective research which includes a step-by-step approach to researching on the internet. They are introduced to some search operators and educated about checking the authenticity of information on a website by critically evaluating the domain names (.com, .org, .edu) – important skills that aid in conducting relevant research
Continuing to use the internet means living another life online. Being an aware and responsible Digital Citizen means understanding and exhibiting the uses of the internet and technology responsibly. Two important points that we cover when it comes to digital citizenship are Academic Plagiarism and Cyberbullying.

Access to the internet and the ability to use it at their disposal also gets to a point when students can visit various websites and download applications and software at any point in time. Digital Safety too is equally important when it comes to using the internet. To stay safe online, we show students what could be the risks involved and learn how to avoid them by embracing appropriate internet behaviour.

In conclusion, technology is moving our world forward rapidly, and digital literacy can help students keep up in the classroom and beyond. Students at BD Somani leverage their learning, especially during the present times, through the power of digital media to explore, connect and learn in ways like never before.
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