Things teachers have to tell their students about the digital world.

We are all in a digital world and things are advancing at a rapid pace. Parents have asked teachers and teachers have asked parents to guide students on what they should and shouldn’t do so they can stay sane in the digital world. In this article, we are discussing the basic things every student needs to know, now that they live in a rather inescapable digital world.

1. About sources of information

The internet almost feels like the information rabbit hole, but these are some of the things in which you should help guide your students so they don’t get lost in the maze;

  • How best they can find different kinds of information
  • How to save information so they can find and reuse it easily
  • Know the difference between facts and opinions
  • How to think critically, and carefully about information

2. About learning avenues

There are many ways that people can learn different things. Yes, it’s gotten to the point that people don’t even need to go to school to learn anything anymore,, except some extremely complex subjects. Here’s what you can guide them on;

  • How to own, direct and manage micro and macro learning processes over the course of their personal and professional life
  • What to learn, and how to learn from different sources of information in contrast
  • How to identify what kind of information they should strive to understand, and what they shouldn’t
  • The relationship between skills, understandings, habits and behaviors

3. Human spaces

With properly functional mobile devices, people no longer need to move in order to meet, as they have online spaces. Here’s where to guide them;

  • The relationship between physical and digital spaces
  • The pros and cons – and subsequent sweet spots of digital tools
  • What mobile technology requires – and makes possible
  • The fine detail of communication in person (e.g eye contact, body language) and in digital domains (e.g introduction, social following etc)

4. About participation on digital platforms

Students need to be guided on the way they participate on online platforms, because they usually approach them with excitement and erase all reasonable limits

  • How to remix, mash, reimagine, tweak, hack, and repurpose media in credible, compelling and legal ways
  • How to create a distinction between social and private information, and how to make changes accordingly
  • What expertise they can offer the digital world
  • How to sort what you want through the seemingly infinite resources on the internet

5. On publishing information online

So many people, especially young ones who struggle to become influencers usually find a hard time figuring out what content works best for their followers and how to mass produce. Here’s where you can guide them;

  • How to leverage both physical and digital media for authentic – rather than merely digital purposes
  • The kind of information people look for on the internet
  • What to share with one person, one group, one community and one planet. (and the difference in permanence and scale between a social message, email, threaded conversation and text)

6. On application of technology in everyday life

Many people still think holding a smartphone is only for purposes of interacting on social platforms, but they need to be lectured on how far it goes beyond that, including;

  • What the relationship is between a smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop, and wearable technology
  • How to use the cloud to their advantage; how to preserve bandwidth when necessary
  • The effective use technology in ways that might contradict their original purpose or design
  • How to use technology  to perform tasks not traditionally thought of as technology-based e.g improving vocab and literacy, perform and update financial planning, eat healthier foods, etc

7. The always-on digital audience

Unlike a theatre where you know right away what people think of your performance, there is a lot to know about the digital audiences including;

  • How to choose language, structure, tone, modalities and other considerations based on a specific purpose or audience
  • Knowing the difference between who’s listening, who’s responding, who’s lurking, who cares, who doesn’t care, etc
  • How to listen with curiosity when there are a million other things to do]
  • Popularity and quality often fail to coincide; traction is as much timing and ecology as it is design

8. Social rules

Once you get hooked onto your smartphone, social rules seem not to matter that much or almost inexistent. Same applies to students, and here’s some things where you can guide them.

  • When it is socially acceptable to check messages, update statuses, check scores and so on. (just because everyone at the table is doing it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have significant consequences)
  • The acceptable timing of human responses depending on social channels
  • Even in a digital world, patience still matters
  • That mobile devices are ‘me’ devices and the ‘real world’, while changing fast, isn’t like that

9. Word choice

Just like high school, slangs are part of social life and if you aren’t well versed with the trends, you’ll lag behind on many things. Here’s what you can tell your students about diction

  • Tone is everything; word choice is crucial when every thought is shared
  • Vocabulary and jargon can obscure communication, but also can communicate specific ideas and cant always be avoided
  • Structure – essay level, blog post level, paragraph level, sentence level, etc depending on where you publish
  • The benefits of being a polyglot (speaking more than one language)

10. Connecting with experts

On the internet, you find all kinds of information, including a whole load of misinformation. Here’s what to tell your students about experts;

  • How to identify and connect with true expertise; what the word expert means and how the definition has (and has not) changed over the last 10 years
  • The role of expert generalists versus niche experts
  • The difference between someone knowledgeable, someone experienced and someone adept
  • When to seek expertise; when you need a closed group of friends, a crowd full of moderately informed people, or professional and/ or academic expert

10. The self

Lastly, students have to care about themselves, because behind all those likes, follows, hash tags and trends are simple humans, just like you and me. Here’s where you can guide them;

  • How to identify and fully participate in critical familial and social relationships
  • Ways to prioritize ideas, resources and connections
  • How to self-monitor and manage their attention; what mindful is and how to use it
  • How to choose the proper scale for work, thinking or publishing]
  • How to recognize niches, patterns, and opportunities – and then how to prioritize them for one’s self based on one’s own unique goals and circumstance


Today, there is no perfect formula, since what you knew 5 years ago can be rendered totally irrelevant due to rapid changes. This means, you just have to be honest with yourself and your students as you guide them through the tech era.

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