Digital Literacy

What is digital literacy?

Digital literacy is as vast as traditional literacy itself. According to Cornell University, digital literacy is “the ability to find, evaluate, utilize, share, and create content using information technologies and the Internet” (Digital Literacy, 2009). While David Buckingham in his work, Defining Digital Literacy (2016), makes a case that digital literacy is almost too broad to pin down to a few simple phrases, describing how you must be able to understand, analyze, create, evaluate, and so much more, materials from and within the web. Some would disagree though, arguing that there needs to be a clear distinction between digital skills (the ability to do) and the literacy (the who, what, when, where, why) (International Literacy Association). In general though, literacy has always focused on both the ability and the understanding, so it is safe to say the ideas are both intertwined into digital literacy.

While over the course of many years, traditional literacy has been given a few defined targeted reading strategies, we know that our understanding of even those are still evolving and improving. As it is also so with digital literacy. There are beyond just a few areas, strategies, and practices to list. Below are a few ideas to springboard you, but getting the fullest picture will require teachers to practice their own digital literacy skills by exploring and experimenting with all the digital learning that is to be had.

Before jumping off into the deep end though, check out the SAMR model page to be sure instruction of worthy quality for a 21st Century learner.


Familiarize Yourself with the SAMR Model

The SAMR model allows teachers to reflect on the real level of technology use in their classrooms. Maybe a teacher is using tech, but he or she doesn’t feel like students are getting anything out of it. It could be because they the activities themselves are merely stuck in the substitution level, where all the activity does is work in place of an old activity. This is where most educators are currently. This is where a lot of powerpoint based assignments land. Nothing can be fixed until teachers better understand the process themselves though!


Understand the Different Tools Produce Different Results

Just as with classroom activities, all digital activities and tools are not created equal. Luckily, Alan Carrington went to the trouble of creating for us a “Wheel of Tech Resources” to help combine Bloom, Tech Tools, and the SAMR Model.

Download the full version here: Wheel of Tech Resources

Model and Download property of Allan Carrington (2013).


Digital Storytelling

Elevating classic narratives to a higher level is digital storytelling. “Digital storytelling is the use of multimedia technology to create and present a first-person narrative that is shared with others on the Internet or through some form of digital delivery. Digital stories generally present a particular point of view about a specific topic and tend to be fairly short in length, in the two- to 10-minute range” (Spector, 2015, p. 223). Follow the link to more info on the topic.


Embrace the Abundance of Sites –

Not to exaggerate but there are multitudes of sites that can quite literally transform the way you educate. They can be used for varying access to technology. Hope on over to the digital instruction resources to check them out!



Buckingham, David. (2016). Defining Digital Literacy. Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy, p. 21–34

Bali, Maha. (2016, February 3). Retrieved March 7, 2017, from

Carrington, Allan. (2013). Retrieved March 4, 2017, from

Digital Literacy. (2009). Retrieved March 3, 2017, from

Spector, J. Michael. (2015). The SAGE Encyclopedia of Educational Technology. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.


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