What do you say to an educator who is just starting out on the road to digital fluency? What tools & software should they start with? What skills should they work on for each of those tools? This wiki page attempts to answer these questions. Please edit and add to this page! Also see: ISEnet ning and NAISnet ning discussions on this topic.


Email is a tool that everyone already uses, but within this tool there are some strategies that differentiate beginners from fluent users:

  • Use informative subject lines and don't "reply all" unless necessary.
  • Respond to, delegate, or dispatch the messages in your in-box on a daily basis (see: GTD).
  • Create sub-folders in your email system (such as: "Needs Action") and drag messages to these folders for organization.
  • Drag time-dependent messages to your calendar.
  • Install an e-mail search tool to quickly find messages instead of rummaging (virtually) through folders. e.g. Google Desktop Search or Copernic.
  • Subscribe to a list-serv that focuses on your discipline or vocation.

If you would like to read a book about email, here is a recommendation.

Online Information SourcesEdit

  • Regularly read one or two online news sources (e.g. NYTimes, CNN)
  • Regularly read one or two list-serv subscriptions (e.g. ISED, MiddleTalk, NAIS Lists)
  • Regularly read a few blogs (e.g. David Warlick, Will Richardson, Pat Bassett, Heads' blogs)

Web BrowserEdit

  • Use bookmarks/favorites in your web browser or better yet, "social bookmarks" (see below.)
  • Use your "history" of websites visited to quickly find sites you want to return to.
  • Use the "Links" bar to have instant access to your 10 most-used sites.
  • Use "browser tabs" (in Firefox or IE7) to have several sites open within one window.
  • Use the Google toolbar to enable autofilling of forms, autolinking to maps, online spellchecker, etc.
  • In IE7 change your "default search provider" to Google


  • Learn to search for photos (Google image, Flickr)
  • Learn to search for videos (YouTube)
  • Learn to search and manipulate maps (Google Maps)
  • Learn to find the info you need on websites by using "Search this site" feature

Sources, Credit, & CopyrightEdit

  • Model the proper citing of sources
  • Understand Creative Commons approach to copyright

"Bit Levers" (time-savers)Edit

  • Use keyboard commands
    • Ctrl-C, V, X for copy, paste, cut
    • Ctrl-click links in your web browser to open them in new tabs
  • Macros (e.g. AutoText in Word)
  • Google toolbar (auto-fill forms, auto-link to maps, auto-complete search terms)

RSS FeedsEdit

Meta-data (to find/filter good contentEdit

  • Highest rated items (blog posts, wiki pages, amazon items, etc)
  • "Most emailed" articles from newspapers (e.g. NYTimes)

Portals (aggregate info in one pageEdit

Social BookmarkingEdit

  • Use to tag favorite websites
  • Use Diigo to tag favorite sites, share them with groups, and comment on pages.


  • Feel free to edit this wiki
  • Get yourself a Wikispaces account and create a wiki for your class

Instant-Messenger, Online Chat, Audio & Video ChatEdit

  • Use Skype to talk to other ed-tekkers


  • Use Blogger to keep a blog that serves as a reflective journal for what goes on in your classroom
  • See Blogging


  • Send a message with your cell phone to somebody


(Twitter is "micro-blogging;" it is a list of mini-updates from others and you post your own)

Real time video streamingEdit


  • (Screencasting is recording and posting of anything you can do on your computer)

Also see: Warlick's Path to Becoming Literate

Sources: Pat Bassett's blog, based on Mark Hurst's Bit Literacy: Productivity in the Age of Information and E-mail Overload.

Overcoming Info OverloadEdit

What can you stop doing?Edit

  • Try new things out, but if you adopt one, then retire an old less-used one. Ideas here are from the isenet discussion on this topic.
  • I stopped responding to email throughout the day. Instead I try to answer email for 20 minutes in the morning, mid-day, and afternoon.
  • I stopped obsessing about research on small tech purchases. I limit myself to 15 minutes of reading on CNET or Amazon, and then I purchase from Amazon or CDWG. I no longer look for the best buy of the day.
  • My new goal is to turn off the laptop after dinner and take a book into a quiet room--to read!
  • I have whittled out the non-essential online activities, and what those activities are can change as my mood/interests change.
  • I stopped taking notes at some meetings when I know I'll never look at them again.
  • I stopped creating paper agendas for meetings
  • I stopped writing lots of text when a good diagram works better
  • I stopped saving emails I think I might need one day
  • I stopped waiting for people who are late before starting a meeting, or catching them up when they arrive

What can tech directors stop doing?Edit

  • I stopped running a loaner pool of laptops, cameras, external drives, tripods, etc. this year. People just didn't return them on time for the next reservation, or if they did, they didn't return all the pieces. Many loans turned out to be for personal and not professional use. I gave fair warning for more than a year and pulled the plug when things didn't improve.
  • One other Big Thing I've stopped doing is expending energy over things I can't control. It took me too long to accept that my role has little to do with curricular integration, and the people in that role don't see things the way I do. They're not evil, just different. I'm happier now focusing on the behind-the-scenes stuff that my support team and I do control, and let the rest just be.

Benchmarks for Digitally Literate TeachersEdit

What do students think that a digitally literate teacher should be able to do?

  • upload a video to YouTube
  • edit a Wikipedia article
  • choose a safe online payments site
  • subscribe to a podcast and unsubscribe
  • turn on and off predictive text
  • manage a group of Flickr photos
  • look after a community in Facebook

Sources: David Warlick [1], Stephen Heppell [2]

What do teachers think that a digitally literate teacher should be able to do?

  • be able to operate in a networked learning community
  • knowing how to read blog posts, comments, and respond to them appropriately
  • collaboratively create content in wikis
  • manage RSS feeds
  • organize and manage web resources with favorites and social bookmarking tools
  • promote appropiate online behavior and safety
  • participate publicly in online community


Doug Johnson's 23 Bites of the Elephant is a great roadmap towards becoming more digitally literate, especially for those who are just starting out and feel overwhelmed by the elephant in the room!

Also see David Warlick's recent blog post: Path to Becoming a Literate Educator.

Ian has a hand-out on his site.

(please add to this page by clicking "edit")

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