During a month when we were all made aware of how frequently we use open and informal Web resources, Virginia and Kentucky have both sponsored use of a relatively new digital literacy curriculum in their public schools.
The curriculum, created by online critical-thinking education group EverFi in partnership with business analytics consulting group Neustar, is targeted at 8th and 9th graders and will be available for free for interested state public schools. But it's unclear whether the product will be as thorough as some other free options out there.
EverFi is new to this particular line of education. Its other programs previously focused on educating students about financial literacy, student loan management, and substance abuse, according to the company's website. And its curriculum—designed to involve 3.5 hours of study, according to a press release—appears less thorough than some others that are also freely available, such as the program offered by San Francisco-based non-profit Common Sense Media.
Further, it's arguable that the target audience is older than the ideal, with more students becoming digitally literate —at least in terms of operating and having access to devices—at younger ages. Common Sense Media began by targeting students in grades 6—8, but has since stretched its curriculum to cover the entire K-12 realm.
The problem, of course, is that given that we're not certain of all the effects of digital media on our youth, there's really no evidence showing what kind of approach to digital literacy works best. And while it's good to see state governments taking note of the issue, that alone doesn't ensure that the literacy training that is offered will be effective.