Cool Apps Like GoAnimate can be a Powerful aid in Developing Digital Literacy for Today's Students
[ED NOTE: The GoAnimate for Schools site now has this message: “On June 30, 2019 support and services will end for GoAnimate for Schools. All sales, for both new subscriptions and renewals, ended on May 6, 2018.” However, the parent operation has been renamed to Vyond.com and is still in business. – KW, 7/26/18]
Today, digital literacy is a requirement, not only in the workplace, but also in the classroom.
By incorporating a variety of tools into their lesson plans, teachers like Lynn Weeks can better prepare students to use digital devices in everyday life, and eventually, in their chosen professions. When Bourne Middle School, where Weeks teaches, introduced a new digital literacy program in 2013, she was able to use and evaluate her students’ understanding of digital literacy with the help of GoAnimate for Schools.
Defining Digital Literacy
Projects like the one Weeks uses in her classroom are becoming more common, and they can address a variety of topics, including Internet safety and cyberbullying. With animation tools, students are limited only by their imaginations — and their levels of digital literacy.
This is important, because although most kids know how to use social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, many of them are still not truly digitally literate. Tweeting is an easy concept to grasp, but students must also be able to properly use search engines to gather reliable research materials, and know how to recognize legitimate sources online.
This GoAnimate clip provides a glimpse of how the tool can be used to promote digital literacy and Internet safety awareness.
Research is a large part of one’s education, and as students explore better ways to gather information, they also need better training on how to organize that information.
Why It Matters
Although almost half of the world is able to access the Internet, studies have shown that only four percent of 13 year olds were able to determine whether or not a website was a credible resource. “Teens view Google as the center of the digital information universe … they uncritically trust Google,” author Danah Boyd said in her book, It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens.
Students are adept at using YouTube, playing video games and social networking, but the Internet offers a wealth of information that may seem incomprehensible without digital literacy.
This is apparent in a study from Michigan State University psychologist Linda Jackson, PhD (2006 Developmental Psychology (Vol. 42, No. 3, pages 429-435)), which found that those children that used the Internet more had higher scores on standardized reading tests after six months, and their grade point averages were also higher than those children who used it less.
Closing the Gap
In order to prepare students for life beyond school, digital literacy should be given the same priority as Math and English courses. However, the development of digital literacy guidelines is lagging behind both in terms of technology and the needs of students.
Common Core, a new set of educational standards is intended to help address issues like digital literacy, but there is debate as to whether it’s adequate. It has often been assumed that kids who’ve grown up with technology are experts by default, which is why the phrase ‘digital natives’ can be damaging. Experts are encouraging a shift toward focusing more attention on digital literacy.
Teachers like Lynn Weeks can make digital literacy both fun and educational. She notes that “students who finish their videos early are invited to create additional videos to introduce the class to next term’s students.” And judging from the reactions of her students, the strategy is effective.
Students on GoAnimate:
“I have learned things about my topic (social media) and about this site (GoAnimate). I learned about social media and the risks from it through my research & then I created a video to explain this topic.”- Kerstin, Grade 7
“GoAnimate can be used for school projects, online videos, and pretty much anything.”
– Logan, Grade 7
“I really enjoyed GoAnimate because it’s fun to see your ideas come to life online.”
– Amanda, Grade 7
Teachers Share Their Experiences with GoAnimate for Education
To learn and read about teacher's experiences with GoAnimate in their own words, check out the blog posts they've written on the Educator Experiences Blog.
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