Digital Literacy

In an age where kids are technologically advanced, digital media can be a crucial part of our history classrooms. If this proves true, we must teach students how to use online information correctly. Below I have pointed out some essential strategies to improve students’ media searches and their ability to distinguish reliable and unreliable sources. The articles From Digital Native to Digital Expert and How to Help Students Spot Misinformation suggest strategies for teaching students how to fact-check their sources.

First, students should learn to read laterally rather than vertically. We all tend to examine an internet source solely by scrolling down and skimming the page; however, when we teach students to read laterally, they can avoid diving too deep into the website’s content and focus more on its credibility. To begin their investigation, we should encourage students to close down unfamiliar tabs and open up new ones to judge the credibility of the original source.

Second, we must remind students not to fall for the appearance of websites. Students commonly appeal to website layouts, abstracts, references, and specific domains, such as .org. While these can be important aspects of a source, we should communicate to students that a more thorough examination is needed to evaluate the trustworthiness of a source.

Lastly, students should practice restraint by avoiding promiscuous clicking. When students read laterally, we should encourage them to resist unnecessary clicking that would lead them away from their original source.

The articles suggest several other strategies to guide students’ investigation of their digital sources. For example, introducing vocabulary to students, such as location, source, and date, can help students determine its integrity. In addition, teaching students how to open multiple pages within one window by right-clicking will allow them to examine information faster. We can also show students how to conduct tailored searches, such as using quotation marks or keywords to avoid useless results.

Access to digital sources has undoubtedly aided the field of history and the use of research in history classrooms. Therefore, we must teach students how to determine whether a source is reliable. In doing so, students will be more cautious when reading other sources outside the classroom, such as news articles or social media posts.