“You should know that I use the Internet a lot and I already know everything.”
This admission is made by one of my Grade 3/4 students who pulled me aside during class. He is nine years old. I let the boy know that this is great news, because we could really use an expert. However, his comment raised an important issue: Should teachers explicitly teach Internet skills?
We have just begun TechnoJourney, an Internet technology project. In this project, students grab their passport and take an online trip through the Internet. Along the way they stop off at destinations such as search engine station, research corner, newsrack, webcam observatory, e-post office, and social media place. At each stop students learn a new Internet skill.
UPDATE: TechnoJourney was replaced with TechnoInternet. The activities are similar.
Are Kids Internet Experts?
It is true that kids use the Internet a lot. Most children in Grade 3 spend their time on the Internet watching YouTube videos and playing online games. As they get older, they will start to use email, chat, and social media to communicate with friends. Do these activities make them Internet experts?
Many students may already possess Internet skills however this does necessarily make them experts. Educators should still explicitly teach Internet skills. This will make sure that ALL the students in the class have the skills and knowledge they need to use the Internet safely, responsibly and efficiently. In this blog I highlight six essential Internet skills or knowledge that will transform your students into Internet Experts.
1. Teachers Need to Teach Research Skills
Online gaming and YouTube may make you an expert at playing games and watching videos. However, that does not necessary make a person an Internet Expert. Internet research skills are an essential skill that teachers should explicitly teach. There is nothing more frustrating than wanting to complete a project but the task is held up because the students are lost in cyberspace searching for facts. By teaching students effective search strategies it can transform your students in experts and maximize your instructional time.
2. Teachers Need to Teach Internet Terminology
It is a good idea to formally introduce Internet terminology, especially to younger children. When you give the instruction, “Open your web browser, type the URL www.biography.com into the address bar, and then click the People hyperlink on the Biography home page,” you do not want to be greeted with puzzled expressions and a bunch of hands up in the air. Teaching terminology explicitly is a great way to make certain that your students can easily follow instructions. It is a basic knowledge, but it is something every Internet Expert needs.
3. Teachers Need to Teach Ethical Use of Internet Resources
Children can easily become pirates of the Internet. Mistakenly many of your students may think that everything on the Internet is FREE for their personal use and they can take whatever they want. However, this is breaking the law. It is essential for teachers to teach copyright rules and plagiarism. Students need to know how they can legally use content from the Internet, how to cite the source, and the importance of rephrasing information into their own words. For students to be Internet Experts this knowledge is vital.
4. Teachers Need to Teach Internet Safety
All Internet Experts are safe users of the Internet. Many parents allow their children to go online with limited supervision. They seem to trust that their child is safe because they are seated comfortably in their house. Parents will teach their child how to cross the street, rules for playing safely at the park, and the importance of not talking to strangers. However, when kids are travelling, playing, or communicating online parents often do not teach safety. This means it is essential for educators to teach Internet safety to make certain children are protected.
5. Teachers Need to Teach Internet Communication Skills
Internet Experts need to stay safe while using electronic methods for communication. Young children may not yet be using email, chat, or social media. However, in just a few years they will be using these forms of communication all the time. It is a good idea that when your students start to do these activities they are explicitly taught netiquette, safety tips, privacy concerns, and cyberbullying. This will help to keep them safe.
6. Teachers Need to Point Out Educational Use of the Internet
Sure your students may know how watch YouTube videos but do they know how to use videos to complete their school work? Many students will not make the connection that the same site that has funny skateboarding dogs also has online documentaries, speeches, interviews, and demonstrations. These videos can make it much easier to finish their research report, history assignment, or science project. Explicitly pointing out these education resources to students will enrich school work and can benefit those who have reading difficulties.
Other Articles about Teaching Internet Skills using TechnoJourney
Now the Students’ Turn: Reflecting on TechnoJourney
A Teacher Speaks Out: Yes, you should teach Internet skills!
Peer to Peer Teaching – Students Become the Teachers
Internet Tour Guide Activity
Use YouTube Videos in your Classroom
Students Love Google Maps
Review How to Sort Google Images with Your Students
Teaching Internet Skills – The Trust Test
Wikipedia in the Classroom
Bookmarking is a Basic Internet Skill that can be Complex
Metacognition and Teaching about the Internet
4 Strategies for Reviewing Internet Search Results
When Should Students Start Using the Internet?
Should you Teach Internet Skills?