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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Require digital literacy courses

Current political debates have brought into question the quality of education in the United States. While homeschooling advocates are demanding less coursework regulations regarding homeschooling curriculums, other parents are urging schools to overregulate information such as books and courses that could be considered offensive or immoral.

However, these debates all overlook what I consider to be the most important problem within the American education system: a lack of instruction regarding digital literacy.

Digital literacy has become a necessary skill within our current society, and it creates a need for school curriculums to adapt and offer students the comprehensive education they need in order to thrive.

Even when children are not using social media or mobile social devices, digital mediums will still be everpresent in their lives. Artificial intelligence is continuously being developed and integrated into huge industries such as healthcare and finance. A deep understanding of how these processes work is paramount for the societal and professional development of modern people.

Digital literacy is not simply learning how to use technology, but how to use technological information and communication channels appropriately to find, create, interpret and communicate information using technical and cognitive skills.

Though many schools do offer courses that teach computer literacy, these courses usually do not teach students how to spot fake news on their feeds or how algorithms work and affect them as consumers.

Although technical skills are a huge part of what encompasses digital literacy, the cognitive skills that accompany them are what truly makes technological knowledge useful.

These, additionally, would be extremely easy for teachers to integrate existing computer literacy courses, as students would already be interacting with technologies and other users. Additionally, there are several organizations within the country that offer or are focused around providing students around the country with the digital literacy education that their schools might not be able to offer.

However, there should not be a need for students to outsource a huge chunk of their education, especially when millions of Americans cannot afford or access after school activities for their children. Instead, schools should administer and regulate digital literacy courses throughout the country.

Despite 84% of Americans believing media literacy should be required within school curriculums, only three states require it to be taught throughout K-12 schooling: Delaware, New Jersey and Texas. Media literacy is almost identical to digital literacy and simply encompasses traditional communication methods in its instruction, such as TV and radio.

In Wisconsin, there are digital learning initiatives that have been created, but seemingly the project was last updated in 2016.

The state’s Digital Learning Plan was designed to help instructors add digital literacy and other technological skills into their lesson plans. Although it was meant to close gaps in education around the state, the lack of regulation and progress from the initiative does speak to the lack of care concerning this type of education.

This could create serious gaps in understanding communication technologies for children that will continue to appear throughout their lives. An overexposure to technology has already been shown to impair development, and an inability to analyze and understand the content that they are being exposed to could simply exacerbate these previous issues.

Additionally, most workplaces currently require some sort of digital literacy as a non-negotiable skill when hiring. Not providing students with courses where they can enhance their digital literacy and relationships with technology could not only impact their quality of life, but their aspirations and goals.

As such, there needs to be a broader and more urgent conversation concerning the need to teach digital literacy within schools. Unless the entirety of the internet and advanced communication technologies that we currently possess were to disappear tomorrow, there will be an everpresent need for these courses to be taught across the nation.

Without a strong and concerted effort to teach and recognize digital literacy as a paramount skill of the 21st century, the effects will be felt throughout society.

This story was written by Clara Lebrón. She can be reached at [email protected].

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Clara Lebrón
Clara Lebrón, Opinions Columnist
Clara Lebrón is a junior from Guaynabo, Puerto Rico studying journalism and health studies at the university and works as an opinions columnist. This is her second year on the opinions desk. Outside of The Wire, she enjoys baking, reading books, and watching movies.

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