What the New DigitalLiteracy.gov Portal Has to Offer Educators

 
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Photo by Dean Shareski.

5.19.11 | The U.S. government launched a new website last week—DigitalLiteracy.gov—to give libraries, community colleges, schools and workforce training centers tools to teach computer and digital literacy skills.

I spent some time on the site this week and found everything from tutorials on basic web skills, such as how to set up a Gmail account, to resources on resume building and lesson plans on understanding copyright

In the section “Find Educator Tools,” you can search by digital literacy skill, subject area or keyword. Searching by “content evaluation” turned up a list of almost 30 resources from governments and nonprofit sources. You can also browse by age group and format, such as “lesson plans and curricula.”

Many of the resources that popped up in my searches we’ve written about before on Spotlight, like CyberSmart, Common Sense Media’s digital literacy and citizenship curriculum that includes free lesson plans on safety and security, cyber citizenship and research information and fluency. I also found My Pop Studio from the The Media Education Lab at Temple University, a free online game that introduces children ages 9 - 14 to digital and media literacy.

But I was also introduced to some new resources as well. And though much of the content seems geared toward adult learners, I think lots of the resources will also be useful to K-12 educators and librarians looking for tutorials for their students—the so-called “digital natives” who, as we’ve written, may not be as internet savvy as some might think.

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Additionally, there are great-looking professional development resources for teachers needing to brush up on their own internet skills and for those starting from scratch. If you have no idea how to print out a screen from the web for example, or attach a document to an email account, you are not alone. And these resources are a good place to get started.

For example, the Beehive’s Digital Basics series teaches computer literacy for beginners, intermediate or advanced computer users. Beehive is a multilingual web portal that provides low-income individuals with web-based tools and information about financial services, education, jobs, health care and family.

I also liked the California School Library Association’s web 2.0 tutorials for librarians and classroom teachers. The tutorials show how to use tools like wikis and how to create videos and podcasts.

Digitalliteracy.gov welcomes new resources, and developers hope the site will become a community space for practitioners in the field. The “In the Community” section features articles on best practices from around the country. You can suggest a resource to share using this form.

The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) created DigitalLiteracy.gov in partnership with nine other federal agencies. The site is part of the Obama administration’s effort to expand national broadband access and strengthen the population’s digital literacy skills.

The NTIA is also partnering with the American Library Association and the Institute of Museum and Library Services to “promote the use of the portal by the nation’s more than 16,600 public libraries where, in 2009, over 30 million job seekers used computers to search and apply for jobs,” according to a NTIA press release.

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