Academic journal article Reading Improvement

Teaching Digital Natives: Promoting Information Literacy and Addressing Instructional Challenges

Academic journal article Reading Improvement

Teaching Digital Natives: Promoting Information Literacy and Addressing Instructional Challenges

Article excerpt

Technology must be used as a teaching and learning tool to help students succeed. However, educators must be proactive in identifying some of the pitfalls of technology, such as information illiteracy. The phenomenological study covers how English instructors from Indianapolis, who teach first year students, address information literacy and the challenges in teaching digital natives.

Keywords: Digital natives, information literacy, higher education


Digital natives and students entering college are continually connected through high-speed digital devices. Millennial learners are considered to be a generation of electronic multi-taskers and fast-paced learners. Digital natives are people who have grown up with and used technology since the day they were born (Jackson, 2015). While digital natives have familiarity with technology, it does not mean that they do not have misunderstandings with the use of technology. Millennial learners have a high expectation of technology and do not quite understand the limitations. Students can search the Internet and connect with friends through text messaging, Face Time, receive communication immediately, and engage in other activities in multiple windows. However, many students still lack the experience of learning with technology, and remain information illiterate (Emanuel, 2013).

Millennial may not understand how search engines rank results, understand the processes of the Web, and differentiate between reliable information versus unreliable information. Only 40% of students passed an information literacy exam, which involved collecting and analyzing information (Hignite, Margavio, & Geanie, 2009). Education that includes information literacy reduces this gap in digital knowledge. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore possible solutions in how educators can address information literacy concerns, as well as determine other challenges instructors face when teaching digital natives.

Literature Review

Potential Pitfalls of Technology

Digital learners rush through their work and expect to end their research with one click of a mouse (Emanuel, 2013). Millennials have an expectation of instant gratification and having all the information readily available. For example, when researching for homework, some may perceive the first few results as being the most noteworthy. Digital natives may also become overloaded with too much information. Students need help in differentiating quality information from questionable information, as they tend to blindly accept information to be accurate (Jackson, 2015; Emanuel, 2013).

Digital natives have a short attention span (Smith, 2012). Technology can be a distraction as laptops and smartphones can be accessed during class time. Students require technology to perform research or complete assignments. Students may also lack key writing skills and the ability to acquire global knowledge, self-direction, critical thinking, and adaptability.

Visual Literacy

Digital viewbooks and additional online education services have been marketed in order to attract today's college students (King, 2015). With all of the visuals available through technology today, one might assume that the digital natives easily understand this information. Smith (2012) stated that digital natives prefer graphics to text. Visuals and pictures are not simply used for entertainment related purposes, but visuals are becoming a major part of communication (Felten, 2008). However, Brumberger (2011) stated that millennial learners are not proficient with interpreting visual communication. Gillenwater (2014) asserted that a person can actually read images, and if a person is not visually literate, then they are only partially literate.

Information Literacy

Information literacy focuses on the students' abilities to collect information, analyze information, and make educated decisions (Hignite, Margavio, & Geanie, 2009). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.