Digital content — finding, evaluating, using and creating it

Students using digital content on laptops

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Digital literacy is about finding, evaluating, using, and creating digital content in meaningful and responsible ways. It requires thinking skills and technical abilities. You can use a range of strategies to develop digital literacy in your school.
  • How to find quality digital content

    Finding information is an important component of digital literacy. Finding digital content that is meaningful is about:

    • using multiple search engines to challenge personal filter bubbles
    • employing various search strategies to help source quality information
    • using texts in a variety of modes — written, visual, audio — to navigate information in purposeful ways
    • collecting a range of information that can then be evaluated to meet your requirements.

    Planning

    Before you begin searching for relevant digital content, consider:

    • what information you need
    • the type of information you need, for example statistics, an introduction to the topic or a research article
    • the information you have
    • how much information do you need — what gaps are there in your knowledge.

    Effective searching for digital content

    You find better results using precise keywords and search strategies.

    1. Look at the topic you want information on and choose the most relevant source for your search.
    2. Think of words that describe your information question – including synonyms. Dictionaries and a thesaurus are useful for compiling a list of keywords.
    3. Try using different keywords to broaden or narrow your search. It's very likely that your search will retrieve a large amount of information so you'll need to develop skills in filtering information to fit your purpose.

    This guidance provides useful information about effective searching:

    These Open University resources can help too:

    These sites provide tips for searching on the web:

    Where to search for digital content

    The National Library provides a range of quality, curated digital resources, including:

    • Topic Explorer — provides quality, curated resources on a range of topics that inspire and support inquiry. Each topic set contains a wide range of resources a particular topic area or subject.
    • Teaching and learning resources — offers a range of free, online teaching and learning resources, tools, and guides to support teaching and learning.

    You could also start with:

    Open Education resources

    Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium — digital or otherwise — that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions.
    UNESCO

    Open Education resources include:

    • OER commons — allows you to search by subject and level, create lessons and modules.
    • TEDEd — videos to create customised lessons
    • Project Gutenberg — useful for digital copies of classic books.
    • CK-12 — provides a library of free online resources in versions for teachers and students.
  • How to find quality digital content

    Finding information is an important component of digital literacy. Finding digital content that is meaningful is about:

    • using multiple search engines to challenge personal filter bubbles
    • employing various search strategies to help source quality information
    • using texts in a variety of modes — written, visual, audio — to navigate information in purposeful ways
    • collecting a range of information that can then be evaluated to meet your requirements.

    Planning

    Before you begin searching for relevant digital content, consider:

    • what information you need
    • the type of information you need, for example statistics, an introduction to the topic or a research article
    • the information you have
    • how much information do you need — what gaps are there in your knowledge.

    Effective searching for digital content

    You find better results using precise keywords and search strategies.

    1. Look at the topic you want information on and choose the most relevant source for your search.
    2. Think of words that describe your information question – including synonyms. Dictionaries and a thesaurus are useful for compiling a list of keywords.
    3. Try using different keywords to broaden or narrow your search. It's very likely that your search will retrieve a large amount of information so you'll need to develop skills in filtering information to fit your purpose.

    This guidance provides useful information about effective searching:

    These Open University resources can help too:

    These sites provide tips for searching on the web:

    Where to search for digital content

    The National Library provides a range of quality, curated digital resources, including:

    • Topic Explorer — provides quality, curated resources on a range of topics that inspire and support inquiry. Each topic set contains a wide range of resources a particular topic area or subject.
    • Teaching and learning resources — offers a range of free, online teaching and learning resources, tools, and guides to support teaching and learning.

    You could also start with:

    Open Education resources

    Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium — digital or otherwise — that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions.
    UNESCO

    Open Education resources include:

    • OER commons — allows you to search by subject and level, create lessons and modules.
    • TEDEd — videos to create customised lessons
    • Project Gutenberg — useful for digital copies of classic books.
    • CK-12 — provides a library of free online resources in versions for teachers and students.
  • How to evaluate digital content

    Developing digital literacy skills in students of all ages and levels is important and evaluating information is an important part of the digital literacy process. To evaluate digital content to ensure it's meaningful:

    • look critically at information to determine its relevance, suitability and reliability
    • be critical and sceptical about sources and information to ensure authenticity
    • check for accuracy, validity and currency as measures of information quality
    • make sure all information and resources are fit for purpose.

    Why evaluate information?

    Anyone can put information online and for any number of reasons. Digital content — blogs, wikis, websites, social media — can contain misinformation.

    Digital literacy is about being able to identify good quality digital content. Critical evaluation is key to assessing authorship, reliability and authenticity.

    Tools for evaluating digital content

    The following are examples of tools that are often used to evaluate digital content:

  • How to evaluate digital content

    Developing digital literacy skills in students of all ages and levels is important and evaluating information is an important part of the digital literacy process. To evaluate digital content to ensure it's meaningful:

    • look critically at information to determine its relevance, suitability and reliability
    • be critical and sceptical about sources and information to ensure authenticity
    • check for accuracy, validity and currency as measures of information quality
    • make sure all information and resources are fit for purpose.

    Why evaluate information?

    Anyone can put information online and for any number of reasons. Digital content — blogs, wikis, websites, social media — can contain misinformation.

    Digital literacy is about being able to identify good quality digital content. Critical evaluation is key to assessing authorship, reliability and authenticity.

    Tools for evaluating digital content

    The following are examples of tools that are often used to evaluate digital content:

  • Using digital content in meaningful ways

    It is important when using digital content to consider:

    • aligning information to learning needs
    • being selective in what digital content to use for what purpose
    • being honest, ethical and responsible with others information to abide by legal requirements
    • using individual and collaborative practices to benefit learning
    • your target audience — students, teachers, your school community or wider.

    Why use digital resources?

    Quality digital content can provide rich, varied information for teaching and learning, and be:

    • curated and disseminated by educators, library staff and students
    • used in a variety of ways to enhance student learning.
    • provide a rich experience by engaging students in higher level thinking
    • made available to students at any time and in anyplace
    • used to develop collaboration and problem-solving skills
    • updated to remain up-to-date and relevant.

    13 reasons why digital learning is better

    Digital learning resources can engage, inspire and excite learners of all ages, abilities and needs. They can be used to stimulate and channel your own creativity as you adapt them to your needs and to develop more stimulating materials for personalising learning. The creative use of digital resources offers a great example of how good practice in ICT can support better learning outcomes.
    — British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTA)

    Choosing digital resources

    When choosing a digital resource focus on whether it:

    • aligns with learning objectives
    • matches the curriculum
    • has learning value and not just a 'nice to have' extra
    • is appropriate for the students' learning level
    • is inclusive and accessible
    • engages learners and promotes effective learning
    • encourages innovation.
  • Using digital content in meaningful ways

    It is important when using digital content to consider:

    • aligning information to learning needs
    • being selective in what digital content to use for what purpose
    • being honest, ethical and responsible with others information to abide by legal requirements
    • using individual and collaborative practices to benefit learning
    • your target audience — students, teachers, your school community or wider.

    Why use digital resources?

    Quality digital content can provide rich, varied information for teaching and learning, and be:

    • curated and disseminated by educators, library staff and students
    • used in a variety of ways to enhance student learning.
    • provide a rich experience by engaging students in higher level thinking
    • made available to students at any time and in anyplace
    • used to develop collaboration and problem-solving skills
    • updated to remain up-to-date and relevant.

    13 reasons why digital learning is better

    Digital learning resources can engage, inspire and excite learners of all ages, abilities and needs. They can be used to stimulate and channel your own creativity as you adapt them to your needs and to develop more stimulating materials for personalising learning. The creative use of digital resources offers a great example of how good practice in ICT can support better learning outcomes.
    — British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTA)

    Choosing digital resources

    When choosing a digital resource focus on whether it:

    • aligns with learning objectives
    • matches the curriculum
    • has learning value and not just a 'nice to have' extra
    • is appropriate for the students' learning level
    • is inclusive and accessible
    • engages learners and promotes effective learning
    • encourages innovation.
  • Creating digital content

    You can create digital content in any number of formats, including video, audio, Powerpoint presentations, blogs, wikis and animations.

    To create meaningful digital content, you need to:

    • understand your audience's needs; then address them appropriately
    • use creative and critical thinking skills to produce quality materials that meet learning requirements
    • have technical competence to use a range of digital tools effectively and confidently
    • be honest, ethical and responsible when publishing
    • respect the rights of other copyright owners and protect the rights of the publisher.

    Creating content is not new. Librarians have been creating content for a long time. Within the digital environment there are now a vast number of tools available. Educators, students and library staff can all be active creators of digital content.

    Libraries as content creators — American Libraries magazine

    Why create content

    Content creation enables students to:

    • develop higher-level skills of analysing, evaluating and creating
    • work collaboratively to solve problems and create new work
    • share their work with other students
    • reuse or re-purpose the work of others
    • develop the knowledge to use information in an ethically appropriate way.

    Tools for content creation

    There is an enormous range of content creation tools that support teaching and learning. It is important to actively look for new and better tools all the time.

    Use the following websites as starters to find some useful creation tools to use in your library or classroom:

  • Creating digital content

    You can create digital content in any number of formats, including video, audio, Powerpoint presentations, blogs, wikis and animations.

    To create meaningful digital content, you need to:

    • understand your audience's needs; then address them appropriately
    • use creative and critical thinking skills to produce quality materials that meet learning requirements
    • have technical competence to use a range of digital tools effectively and confidently
    • be honest, ethical and responsible when publishing
    • respect the rights of other copyright owners and protect the rights of the publisher.

    Creating content is not new. Librarians have been creating content for a long time. Within the digital environment there are now a vast number of tools available. Educators, students and library staff can all be active creators of digital content.

    Libraries as content creators — American Libraries magazine

    Why create content

    Content creation enables students to:

    • develop higher-level skills of analysing, evaluating and creating
    • work collaboratively to solve problems and create new work
    • share their work with other students
    • reuse or re-purpose the work of others
    • develop the knowledge to use information in an ethically appropriate way.

    Tools for content creation

    There is an enormous range of content creation tools that support teaching and learning. It is important to actively look for new and better tools all the time.

    Use the following websites as starters to find some useful creation tools to use in your library or classroom:

  • Responsible use — copyright and attribution

    When you use any digital content be aware of its copyright and any usage restrictions. These are usually made clear.

    If you use digital content created by someone else, it's important that you acknowledge or attribute them in your work. Check if your school has guidelines for responsible use of other people's work.

    If you're unsure about how to use digital content responsibly, ask your librarian or refer to:

    Copyright guidelines for schools — as set out by the Ministry of Education.

    Creative Commons — Use and remix — information about how to legally share, remix, and reuse.

  • Responsible use — copyright and attribution

    When you use any digital content be aware of its copyright and any usage restrictions. These are usually made clear.

    If you use digital content created by someone else, it's important that you acknowledge or attribute them in your work. Check if your school has guidelines for responsible use of other people's work.

    If you're unsure about how to use digital content responsibly, ask your librarian or refer to:

    Copyright guidelines for schools — as set out by the Ministry of Education.

    Creative Commons — Use and remix — information about how to legally share, remix, and reuse.

  • Find out more

    How teens do research in the digital world — Pew Research Center

    "Sometimes the Internet reads the question wrong": children’s search strategies & difficulties (pdf) — a research paper from the University of Waikato

    Evaluating digital content: 6 resources for teachers — a blog by Claire Lotriet

    Kathy Schrock’s Guide to everything: critical evaluation

    Evaluating information: an information literacy challenge (pdf) — a research paper by Mary Ann Fitzgerald

    Critical analysis and information literacy — a blog by Judy Willis MD offering ways to help students develop critical analysis skills

    Guidelines on information literacy for lifelong learning (pdf) — compiled by the information literacy section of the International Federation of Library Associations and institutions (IFLA)

  • Find out more

    How teens do research in the digital world — Pew Research Center

    "Sometimes the Internet reads the question wrong": children’s search strategies & difficulties (pdf) — a research paper from the University of Waikato

    Evaluating digital content: 6 resources for teachers — a blog by Claire Lotriet

    Kathy Schrock’s Guide to everything: critical evaluation

    Evaluating information: an information literacy challenge (pdf) — a research paper by Mary Ann Fitzgerald

    Critical analysis and information literacy — a blog by Judy Willis MD offering ways to help students develop critical analysis skills

    Guidelines on information literacy for lifelong learning (pdf) — compiled by the information literacy section of the International Federation of Library Associations and institutions (IFLA)