What We’re Reading: How to Teach Digital Literacy

Illustration by Clare Reid

In my previous review of Safiya U. Noble’s book Algorithms of Oppression, I suggested that we needed to do better at teaching critical literacy skills. But how? I want to share a couple of resources today that were created especially for educators looking to incorporate critical digital literacy skills into their courses.

Both resources were created by Michael Caulfield, the Director of Blended and Networked Learning at Washington State University Vancouver, and head of the Digital Polarization Initiative of the American Democracy Project. He is a passionate advocate for digital literacy, and has worked tirelessly to provide resources for instructors. 

The first resource is an open-access textbook, Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers. The book outlines the four “moves” for better digital literacy—look for previous work, go upstream, read laterally, and circle back—encouraging students to slow down and perform these simple moves before hitting the “share” or “like” buttons. Each section provides both definitions and a number of exercises that put the moves into practice. 

The second resource is a series of digital literacy modules, called the Check Please! Starter Course. Each module has explainer videos, examples, exercises, and other resources to make the ideas as simple as possible to integrate into an existing course. There are five lessons in total, with each taking about 30 minutes to complete. As Caulfield describes it, the course “is suitable homework for the first week of a college-level module on disinformation or online information literacy, or the first few weeks of a course if assigned with other discipline-focused homework.”

I strongly recommend checking out these two resources to better understand how misinformation online works and what you can do to help stop it. As instructors, it is important that we at least have that basic knowledge ourselves so that we can help our students become better digital citizens.