A survey of teachers from the Pew Internet & American Life Project cautioned the concerns about digital literacy of teens.
How Teens Do Research in the Digital World – released Nov 1, 2012
by Kristen Purcell, Lee Rainie, Alan Heaps, Judy Buchanan, Linda Friedrich, Amanda Jacklin, Clara Chen, Kathryn Zickuhr
The teachers who instruct the most advanced American secondary school students render mixed verdicts about students’ research habits and the impact of technology on their studies. These teachers report that students rely mainly on search engines to conduct research, in lieu of other resources such as online databases, the news sites of respected news organizations, printed books, or reference librarians.
Some 77% of advanced placement (AP) and National Writing Project (NWP) teachers surveyed say that the internet and digital search tools have had a “mostly positive” impact on their students’ research work. But 87% say these technologies are creating an “easily distracted generation with short attention spans” and 64% say today’s digital technologies “do more to distract students than to help them academically.”
According to this survey of teachers, conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project in collaboration with the College Board and the National Writing Project, the internet has opened up a vast world of information for today’s students, yet students’ digital literacy skills have yet to catch up:
- Virtually all (99%) AP and NWP teachers in this study agree with the notion that “the internet enables students to access a wider range of resources than would otherwise be available,” and 65% agree that “the internet makes today’s students more self-sufficient researchers.”
- At the same time, 76% of teachers surveyed “strongly agree” with the assertion that internet search engines have conditioned students to expect to be able to find information quickly and easily.
- Large majorities also agree with the notion that the amount of information available online today is overwhelming to most students (83%) and that today’s digital technologies discourage students from using a wide range of sources when conducting research (71%).
- Fewer teachers, but still a majority of this sample (60%), agree with the assertion that today’s technologies make it harder for students to find credible sources of information.
- Given these concerns, it is not surprising that 47% of these teachers strongly agree and another 44% somewhat believe that courses and content focusing on digital literacy should be incorporated into every school’s curriculum.
To help teachers begin thinking about the importance of online citizenship and how to integrate such lessons into their classrooms, Edmodo and Common Sense Media have released a Digital Citizenship Starter Kit. And, educators can join social network’s Digital Citizenship community, which features comments, ideas and best practices from fellow teachers.
The downloadable kit includes five custom lessons each for each level — elementary, middle and high school — and a written pledge that students can sign. Its authors say the resource will help educators start classroom conversations about important topics, such as Internet safety, cyberbullying, community relationships, digital identity and information literacy.
Overall, the vast majority of these teachers say a top priority in today’s classrooms should be teaching students how to “judge the quality of online information.” In the digital age, information is spread in light speed and could be shared, remixed and manipulated within clicks. There is an old Chinese story about how a rumor make itself believable when being re-told more than 3 times, check out this post “Rumors” with illustrations created by students. It could be a good prompt to start this topic. (stories make ideas stick and remembered)
For college students, Project Information Literacy have released this infographic to summarize their recent research on how college students find and use information. Data in this infographic come from PIL’s publications Balancing Act: How College Students Manage Technology While in the Library during Crunch Time and Truth Be Told: How College Students Evaluate and Use Information in the Digital Age. (This infographic is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 license)