When I was in middle school, I did an assignment on Greek mythology. I was to take a phenomenon in the world and write my own story about the Greek gods and why this phenomenon occurs in the world. To write this back then meant that my mom would driving me to the library where I would spend hours searching for books. I would check them out and go home to write my rough draft. As my pencil continued to shrink, the story grew. I would then go and type in the computer lab my rough draft into a final draft. It was a neat story about thunderstorms being nothing more that the Greek gods glow-bowling.
I remember when the internet was not as robust. I remember when we got our first computer in the house. My first typed assignments were either typed in the computer lab or on my grandmother's typewriter. To be a successful student back then meant knowing the tools of the time.
It's the same as it is now, right? Our students know the tools to succeed in today's world, right?
The first session that I attended was a conversation about student's digital literacy. Do students truly understand the use of technology in their life? This was a great conversation and addressed several issues. I will try to highlight a few points.
There is still a gap - As we talk about access to higher education, the same can be said for technology. As much as new technology bridges gaps in connecting us to each other and the general knowledge, the more it creates gaps to those who have access. When we talk about bringing social media and other tools into the classroom, do we recognize that there are those who don't have access outside of the classroom.
Being a millennial does not equate to being an expert - We continue to say that the students today are extremely tech savvy, and while their understanding of the functions are sometimes higher than older generations, the understanding of consequences is not. Between the ill advised posting of photos on Facebook, to research solely based on Wikipedia, there is still much to be learned about the different software and tools.
The Librarian still knows all - While you think you may know how to navigate a search box, Librarians are still the expert. Whether it be the digital catalog or a Google search, your librarian staff can teach you how to optimize your process to find exactly what you need and more.
Forget Millennial, what about our digital literacy - If we are suppose to be the educators to help build our student's digital literacy, shouldn't we know it first? It was clear that there was a gap among all of us, and if you combined our knowledge together, you would still find plenty of holes. It is important as much as we teach our students to be life long learners, we too need to continue our learning.
Services need to be made available and started early - The conclusion of a very awesome discussion concluded that there needed to be services. We went as far as to say that as much as a university has a writing center and a career services office, there needs to be a specific office that handles digital literacy. To be able to teach technology so that students are not only learning how to use different technology, but to understand the implications of using it. To be able to be creative and confident that what they are doing online and otherwise is safe for them and creating digitally literate students. It was also said that this needs to start as early as middle school. If it is going to be a college focus, it should start with orientation and carry itself through all the years of the students college career. We always work towards giving students the tools necessary to succeed, and digital literacy is the necessary tool to be placed on the tool belt.