April 19, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

SLJ Reviews Rosen’s database ‘Digital Literacy’

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If ever there was an ideal product for the 21st-century student, this is it. Rosen’s new database, Digital Literacy, is the Ellis Island for today’s middle and high school students and their teachers. It is a gateway to understanding and using the vast, potentially overwhelming nation of the Internet. Digital Literacy provides users with know-how that will allow them to maximize the usefulness of a variety of online resources and be smart and responsible when doing so.

Digital Literacy

Grade Level 7 & Up

Cost Subscription pricing for Digital Literacy is tiered based on student enrollment or cardholder numbers and begins at $595 per year.

High Relevancy, Wide Breadth The most significant strength of this database comes from the high relevancy of the articles to today’s students’ needs and the wide breadth of information covered in them. Articles are presented under the headings “Cyberbullying and Safety,” “Communication Basics,” “Social Networking,” “Privacy and Digital Ethics,” “Search and Research Skills,” “Tools for the Digital Age,” “Careers and Entrepreneurship,” “Internet Biographies,” and “Gaming.” Each of these is subdivided into smaller, more specific categories. For instance, “Communication Basics” is divided into sections on online predators, blogs, digital journalism, slander and libel, texting and sexting, and Twitter and other microblogs. In all categories, the information is well-organized and the writing is clear and engaging. The use of real-life cautionary tales (the Tyler Clementi story in material on cyberbullying and the Kaavya Viswanathan story in the plagiarism section, etc.) adds a modicum of necessary tension in an otherwise upbeat presentation.

Special features are built in to each article. The strong presence of audiovisual accompaniments will be of particular use to students who are studying English as a second language or to those who struggle with reading comprehension. With a single click, students can have the article read to them. A complementary function highlights the word being read in one color and the relevant sentence in another color. Other special features include Google Translate and share buttons. Students who use information from the database for research projects will find citing the information a breeze, as citations for each article are included in MLA and APA formats.

Video Component Links to dozens of videos are embedded throughout the database content. Each video highlights some aspect of the article at hand. For the most part, the videos are substantive and highly complementary. For instance, in the article “Twitter: What Is It Good For?” a 41-second video features a news clip that shows a Congressional forum where politicians keep up with their constituents’ questions and concerns in real time using Twitter. A few of the videos act more as colorful fillers. For instance, a video in the “Fan Fiction Writing” section is a 17-second look at a teenage girl typing. Many of the pieces come from Learning Zone Xpress, a vendor of educational products. These videos feature teen actors talking about various online issues and are not only visually arresting, but also add a humanizing, personal touch to technology-heavy content. In addition to the visual lure of the videos, the database includes scores of well-curated, high-resolution stock images.

Interactive Tutorials Rosen’s interactive tutorials help with becoming a citizen journalist, creating a digital business plan or a multimedia presentation, recording a podcast, and filming a public service announcement. These tutorials invite users to create a plan for a digital product rather than help them to finish it. For each activity, users are prompted to enter their name, topic of interest, the websites they’ve used in their research, and the tools they plan to use to create a finished product. Links called “Tips” take users to relevant Digital Literacy content. For instance, when students are prompted to list websites used in their research, the “Tip” leads to articles on finding credible information online and on researching people, places, and events.

Curriculum Compatibility The articles and activities in Digital Literacy are designed to correlate with Common Core, the learning standards in the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), and the learning standards in the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). The database is compatible with iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, and netbooks.

Resources for Teachers A section for teachers, librarians, and administrators offers detailed information on curriculum correlations. In addition, there are tips on creating lesson plans, signing up for the Digital Literacy newsletter, tracking usage statistics, and more.

Conclusion Digital Literacy is packed with timely, up-to-date information for 21st-century students. Dynamic and attractive, this database will help users to navigate the complex world of the Internet. A first-rate product.