Sterling Academy Blog

Ensure your school is teaching your child to be a digital native

Posted by Sterling Staff on Jan 21, 2015 7:18:00 AM

For today’s high school students, digital literacy has become as crucial an educational outcome as reading, writing, math and science. Cornell University defines digital literacy as “the ability to find, evaluate, utilize, share and create content using information technologies and the Internet.”

Just as critical thinking and problem-solving are essential companions to fact-based knowledge, true digital literacy transcends searching online and tweeting to include the ability to critically evaluate sources of information and to discern which technology tools are most appropriate for a particular purpose or in a particular environment.

The problem for traditional schools

While it might be easy for any parent today to assume their child is entirely literate when it comes to digital technology – after all, they certainly spend enough time texting their friends and playing video games – that could be far from true. Today’s teens may be digital natives, but that doesn’t necessarily make them digitally literate in every respect.

If your child attends a traditional brick-and-mortar high school, digital literacy is just one more thing to pile onto the curriculum, when schools are already strapped for money and teachers. Will your school be able to deliver this essential learning? Perhaps your child will gain greater proficiency and insight on their own.

The digital future is already here

Digital Native

Colleges and employers now expect digital competence. As today’s high school students enter the workforce, those who are most adept online will be in greatest demand because they will be more valuable assets, right from the start.

Businesses of all sizes and types now function in a digital – and in many cases, global – environment. They have switched to virtual workforce training, leadership development programs, conferences and meetings, saving time and money by providing digital materials and communications tools employees can access any time to learn and test their new knowledge without having to leave the premises.

Many companies expect employees to have the technical and self-management skills to work successfully from home, collaborate productively with others located elsewhere, and so on.

The online advantage

Acquiring digital literacy is automatically part of the online learning experience, because students perfect their skills as they study and work in an entirely-online environment. They gain agility in part through complex activities such as using and creating multi-media presentations.

Working day-to-day in this milieu also helps students learn about the challenges of digital technology – its evolving nature and legal and ethical issues – so they gain hands-on understanding of what constitutes “right from wrong” on the Internet.

Online high schools enable students to acquire and sharpen a full range of technology skills, giving them digital fluency that will open doors to pursue the college, career opportunities, and personal interests they want. And online courses are often more appealing to teens who want to “have it my way” when it comes to their education. When they can use the various devices and media they’re already familiar with, they are more engaged in the process of learning.

Digital literacy is a critical competency for the 21st century. There are already billions of individuals, businesses and devices connected to the Internet, and those numbers continue to grow exponentially. Students who aren’t digitally literate will be at a significant disadvantage, just as if they couldn’t read, write, comprehend or compute. Those who attend accredited online high schools will not have to worry they are gambling with their future.

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Topics: Studying Online, digital native

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