Guest post by Mike King

With the many advancements in educational technology and 1:1 device initiatives, schools hope to provide a 21st-century education for all students and find ways to improve instructional practices to increase student learning and performance. Yet, in my experience and the experiences of many colleagues, we have seen limited advancement in the ability to design learning experiences that target higher-order cognitive skills and have a significant impact on student outcomes.

How can schools improve their practices in digital literacy? Do the standards for digital literacy reflect the changing nature of technology and seek to develop the skills that students will need for learning, work, and life? How do we incorporate digital practices that enhance learning rather than distract from it?

At Dodge City Middle School, we have worked together with our staff, students, parents, and community leaders to answer these questions and reevaluate our standards and accountability practices for digital literacy. These important conversations have helped us identify new digital literacy standards. At a minimum, each learner in our district should be able to demonstrate:

  • Digital organizational literacy through aggregation
    Aggregation is the act of discovering content from different sources and pulling the content together into one information pool. Aggregation tools are automated and help us collect and organize the best content on a particular topic. Teaching aggregation helps students dig deeper than an optimized, ad-sponsored web search. Aggregation tools, including Delicious, Feedspot, and Fractus Learning, seek out multiple reliable sources on a single topic and decrease the one-line search results. Students who know how to use aggregation technologies, tools, and techniques will know how to find, organize, share, and protect digital information.
  • Digital information literacy through curation
    Where aggregation automatically collects information from multiple sources, curation is the manual process of selecting and organizing information to share with others. Anytime we find an interesting article, write a new caption for it, and share it on social media, we are curating content. But curation in the classroom is much more than tweeting an article on Twitter. Digital curation is a process of establishing and developing long-term repositories of digital assets. These are the same assets that are now being used by researchers, scientists, historians, writers, and scholars. The teaching of curation tools like The Tweeted Times,, LiveBinders, and BagTheWeb will improve a student’s ability to find quality content as it coincides with selecting and sharing the best and most relevant digital information.
  • Digital media creativity through content creation
    Digital media creation is the ability to use digital media to complete tasks, generate content, and develop opportunities. Students need more opportunities to use digital tools to apply their knowledge and create content in creative ways that demonstrate their understanding. This requires teaching the use of digital media tools, such as Scribd, Pixenate, Buzzsprout, and Piktochart, to create digital content, and teaching the skills needed to turn multimedia compilations into consumable content.

To be digitally literate in 2018, all of us need to learn how to access, sort, decipher, evaluate, and curate a vast warehouse of digital content that is being produced at a phenomenal rate. We must teach students how to use a wide variety of digital tools to aggregate, curate, and create digital content so that they can locate useful, reliable, and quality information. This is the generation that will create, publish, and formulate new meanings of the world in which they live, virtually and physically. But to be successful in this endeavor, we must come to grips with understanding the importance of teaching digital literacy in our schools and classrooms.

What digital practices enhance student learning at your school?

Mike King is principal of Dodge City Middle School in Dodge City, KA, and has been in education for 38 years. He was a 2012 NASSP National Digital Principal of the Year, and his schools have been recognized with numerous awards, including the Medal of Excellence, designation as an Oklahoma National Blue Ribbon School, and other Kansas educational honors. King is committed to advancing learning with technology and firmly believes that digital tools can help students unleash their creativity and construct knowledge.

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