By CompTIA Spark
Today’s modern student works with technology in many capacities. But understanding how it works is dramatically different from being tech savvy – or digitally fluent. In today’s digital world, it is essential to develop strong digital fluency skills for students; and the earlier the better. Middle school is the perfect time to teach these skills. It’s a point when students start exploring potential career paths and thinking about what they want to do for a living.
Did you know that one out of two students are considering a career in tech? That’s why middle school is the time to instill the digital fluency skills students need to navigate our increasingly digital world.
What Exactly Is Digital Fluency?
Digital fluency is more than just knowing the basics of operating a computer. It includes a range of skills needed to confidently, proficiently and safely use technology to access, evaluate, create and communicate information in various digital formats. Some of those skills include:
● Online communication: There’s a right way and a wrong way to communicate with people online – but somebody has to teach those skills. Digital fluency includes effectively communicating through various online platforms, such as email, messaging apps and social media while understanding etiquette and best practices.
● Information and data fluency: Not everything we read on the internet is true. Digital fluency includes finding, critically evaluating and using information from various online sources.
● Cybersecurity awareness: The internet can be a dangerous place if you don’t know how to protect yourself. Digital fluency includes understanding the importance of cybersecurity and adopting safe online practices to protect personal and sensitive information.
● Adaptability: Change is the only constant in technology. There will always be something new on the horizon. Digital fluency includes learning and adapting to new technologies and platforms as they emerge.
● Problem-Solving: Utilizing technology to solve problems is a big part of the future. Digital fluency includes tackling challenges with digital tools and resources, such as searching for solutions online or using software to address complex issues.
As you can see, digital fluency skills are important power skills that can transfer to almost any career. By nurturing and growing these skills, students gain the ability to succeed in their academic pursuits and their future careers – even if they don’t end up in tech.
How Does Developing Digital Fluency Skills Help Students?
With digital fluency, students are able to develop critical skills that show them how to interact and engage with technology. But there are also other clear benefits of developing digital fluency skills for students, including:
● Academic empowerment: Digital fluency is like a superpower for students to succeed in school. It teaches them how to leverage technology as a tool for research, communication and creativity, and it opens the door to an array of resources for learning that can enhance their academic performance. It also helps students develop skills for collaborating with peers and presenting their ideas in innovative ways.
● Future career readiness: True, there are traditional tech careers. But we also believe that every career is a tech-enabled career. Digital fluency helps students develop skills they’ll need no matter what career path they choose, giving them an advantage in an increasingly tech-driven job market.
● Critical thinking and problem-solving: Digital fluency teaches students how to apply critical thinking to their research and everyday life. They’ll learn how to evaluate information, identify credible sources and make informed decisions based on the information and data they gather. They also develop problem-solving skills by engaging with technology and using it to find creative solutions to challenges they may face.
It’s also important to note that as technology continues to evolve, digital fluency equips students with the ability to adapt and grow with it. We don’t know what kind of technology our students will graduate into after high school or college; but with the power of digital fluency in their skill set, they’ll be prepared for almost any scenario.
What Are Some Effective Strategies to Develop Digital Fluency Skills for Students?
For students to gain digital fluency, it has to be engaging and fun. That’s why our curriculum focuses on ways to link students’ interaction with technology to real-world scenarios and things that interest them. Some of the ways we do this include:
● Project-based learning: We use common creativity and productivity applications that let students engage in projects that show them how to apply digital fluency to real-life situations.
● Self-paced instruction: We use custom tutorial videos that allow students to learn at a pace that works best for them.
● Variety of tech topics: We provide a wide sample of tech topics allowing students to explore and connect technology with subjects they care about.
● Hands-on experience: We give students access to tech projects and simulations informed by our expertise and industry knowledge to help them interact with technology and hone their digital fluency skills.
As technology becomes more integrated in our lives, digital fluency is essential for students of all ages to thrive inside and outside of school. We believe digital fluency is as important to students’ future success as reading, writing and math.
By investing in digital fluency skills for students today, we set them up for success as confident and responsible digital citizens of tomorrow. Together, we can unlock students’ potential in technology.
Learn more about the CompTIA Spark cybersecurity learning unit, which introduces students to networking and cyber concepts in fun and engaging ways.