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Pupils are using the Internet daily, be it social networking sites, online shopping sites, chat rooms, forresearch or general browsing.
But for the most part, they have learned these tools through a game of'telephone', from person to person, with no formal training on the Internet's specific literacy.
Think of itas if all the books in the world were open to our pupils, but nobody was teaching them how to read, howto comprehend their information and how to use it responsibly. We as teachers are present for an evolution in education.
Subjects and information that were not taughtduring our own school years must now be a part of our pupils' education.
So educators must now donthe hats of both teacher and student, playing catch-up in our own awareness.
If we were to ignore theevolution that is occurring-that of online informational hunting and gathering-then we would not bedoing our job of preparing pupils for their futures. As educators, it is also our job to continue integrating essential thinking skills when using these 21stcentury tools.
Just because Google finds information for a pupil doesn't mean that we no longer teachhow to doubt, research and verify. And just because pupils can use social networking tools, doesn't meanthat they understand netiquette and collaboration. Pupils must be taught to read, analyse, disseminate and evaluate all the information available to them.
Ifwe want pupils who are responsible online, we as educators must have a voice in their learning. But Internet literacy is not just about website analysis.
It goes a step further. It requires an understandingof three-dimensional reading and of comprehension in layers as a reader dives deeper and deeper, fromlink to link, seeking the information that they are hunting for. And along the way, they are socialising,networking, collaborating and gathering people to call for 'informational lifelines'. Because of the interactive nature of the online world and the social two-way flow of communication,educators must make Internet literacy a vital part of the curriculum.
It is more than just analysis; it'salso about appropriate communication with the world at large.
It cannot be acquired merely throughparticipation or the fact that this generation was born into this technological world.
It must be taught. It is education's duty to evolve, by teaching with technology and instructing pupils in how to read anddisseminate the infinite supply of information available.
It is also our responsibility to bridge the criticalthinkinggaps, laying the mortar of knowledge between the layers of technological tools.
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