Digital and social media literacies

Literacy as we know it today does not simply refer to the ability to read and write, but includes the ability to understand language in multiple contexts and in multiple modalities. Digital literacy refers to the appropriate and effective use of technology and it is usually learned experimentally through immersion and use of technology devices. Students who are digitally literate know how to communicate in online spaces, how to create and consume digital content, and understand the importance of digital communication. Social media literacy is tied to SNSs and refers to being able to interact appropriately, to create and share media responsibly, and to evaluate other people’s digital content with a critical lens. Social media literacy helps students become critical thinkers, active creators of content, and informed global citizens.

Before implementing SNSs in the classroom setting, it is important to consider whether students are digitally literate. As educators, these are some questions we may want to consider:

  • Do students know how much digital content to share?
  • Do students know how to interact and respond to different online audiences?
  • Do students know how to present themselves online?

These questions should be discussed with students before implementing SNSs in the instructional setting.

Although much is talked about students as digital natives, it cannot be given for granted that students already know how to use SNSs. An in-class training session prior to using SNSs is an excellent way to ensure students’ success. SNSs video tutorials shared on the adopted learning management system (LMS) is also a great idea to support successful use. Through planned and scaffolded instruction, teachers can provide students with meaningful opportunities for the development of intercultural competence using SNSs.