Living in the twenty-first century, we’re witnessing digital technology permeating all areas of human life. One of them is the field of education. Nowadays at school, it’s common to use digital technologies on a daily basis.
In my country, Bolivia – often perceived as a ‘developing’ country – we are witnessing a transition to a digital, community-based and pluralistic pedagogy that adds ancestral knowledge to the traditional humanistic education model. Without doubt, this is a revolutionary step, not only towards inclusion and recognition of indigenous groups within the formal education system, but also towards shaping a population that is digitally literate.
My generation – I finished high school in 2014 – saw the transition from the previous to the current model. I studied in classrooms in which the use of cellphones was taboo, not to mention the internet. All digital devices were relegated to the ‘computer room’. Nowadays, the use of laptops is widely common across faculty and students in Bolivia. This also brings new challenges, such as how to use digital tools responsibly within and beyond the classroom.
For many young people like myself, spending time in the virtual world has become a necessity. The internet seems to have penetrated various types of academic activities in the realm of communication, research and leisure. This is why digital literacy has become key in the education context.
One of the key challenges many young people are struggling with is the proper verification of sources. Even though technological innovations have accelerated the pace of life, it’s important that we take our time to check the validity, credibility and overall quality of the sources of information that we use.
So when it comes to verifying our sources, where do we start? At the front door! Most internet users enter the web through search engines – such as Google, Bing or Yahoo – and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has used a search engine to find articles for my homework or research assignments. Without a doubt, search engines are one of the web’s modern wonders. However, the problem is that they index an infinite amount of websites without completely evaluating their accuracy. Moreover, they show results based on algorithms and the user’s personal interests. This means that sometimes we end up finding information that is not completely verified or information that is tailored to our personal profile.
This is why nowadays, instead of using search engines for my school-related work, I try to visit platforms that offer verified academic articles by academics who share their work free of charge. Incorporating digital literacy education into the academic curriculum still remains a challenge for some academic institutions and governments. Yet, as individuals we can make our own efforts to adapt to new trends and responsibly use digital tools. We have the power to develop strict criteria when using digital tools to find the credible and verified information we are looking for.
This article was written by Dennar Gary Alvarez Mejia, 19, as part of the 2017 State of the World's Children report.