- Despite how connected most students are, many struggle with the digital skills necessary to learn new ideas from the Internet, conduct research, or prepare for a career.
- A study from University of Connecticut currently under peer review found that just 4% of 13-year-olds could identify whether a website was credible; most couldn't identify the author, the author's credentials, or potential bias.
- A separate study from the University of Connecticut found that less than 8% of 13-year-olds could send a proper email, including a subject line, greetings, or a clear message.
The study's findings contradict a widespread belief among adults that students are "digital natives," adept at navigating a connected world. In fact, experts say students' skills vary widely, depending on interest, family device use, and parental involvement. Some are calling for more focus on digital literacy in state standards and assessments. For example, test questions could ask students to analyze search engine results rather than a short text.
In the end, students' lack of training in how to get reliable information from the Internet and conduct research leaves educators with the same task they've had for decades, even before the rise of the web: Teach students to know how to find information and how to use it. That's not so different from knowing where to find the right library book and learning how to analyze texts.