Developing digital literacy skills in our English lessons is a key aspect in every ELT scenario, but especially so in remote and online learning contexts. In this entry we have made a selection of readily available resources that you can use to accomplish this aim.

1) Online safety for teenagers

Part of being digitally literate is being able to safely navigate the online world, following communication codes. This lesson plan addresses this and equips students with language to talk about online safety. The aims are:

  • To develop students’ spoken fluency and use of modals for advice.
  • To develop higher level critical thinking skills by ranking a series of tips in order of importance.
  • To encourage students to think about the importance of online safety.
  • To encourage teenagers to be safe online.

While this lesson plan was originally intended for face-to-face lessons, it is easy to adapt it to an online environment: 

  • Use screen sharing to type the warmer words and to show the material during teacher-led stages.
  • Guide students to open the material in their device for silent reading time.
  • Divide them into breakout rooms for group work.
  • Give them the link to the role play A or B card for the information gap activity when you set up the interaction and make sure students are properly divided in the breakout rooms.

2) Internet Safety with kids

This is a sequence of short activities that can be used to raise awareness towards internet safety precautions with young kids. It provides practice of vocabulary and use of modals related to the subject. The chant and the game are great conversation starters to encourage reflection about the topic.

3) Identifying fake news

In these times of overwhelming amounts of information, helping students realise the characteristics of fake or misleading news is a step towards helping them become critical digital citizens. This lesson intends to do this. Its aims are:

  • To expand knowledge of vocabulary related to news and the media.
  • To raise students’ awareness of fake news through discussion and reading.
  • To develop students’ 21st-century skills, including critical thinking, collaboration and media literacy.

Similarly to the first resource above, this lesson plan was originally meant to be taught in face-to-face scenarios. However, there are an even smaller amounts of adaptations needed for it to be used in remote teaching settings:

  • Give students the link to the worksheet for them to access the material. Share your screen to guide them to the right part throughout the lesson.
  • Use the main room for lockstep stages and breakout rooms for group discussions.

Some useful support material that can be used for further reading comprehension and discussion are the following common sense posters:

4) Chat 

This simple activity that was also originally designed for settings in which students share the physical space, is not only very easy to adapt to online scenarios, but it actually makes more sense! No need to pretend they are chatting, they can actually do so, which students tend to enjoy, no pushing them to open their mic and speak is likely to be a welcome change.

Further discussion on the differences between face-to-face communication and chatting, emphasising the importance of relating with empathy and remembering that there is a human being on the other side of the screen even if you cannot see their face when they react to the message, is an extension that can further develop students’ ability to establish healthy online communications and understand codes for different contexts. 

5) The Turing Test

This activity invites students to write questions for online ‘robots’ and it can be a starting point to discuss and understand AIs, ethical considerations regarding their use, how to take advantage of them while understanding the risks involved.

Unfortunately, while the sequence described in this activity is certainly worth trying out, the links are not ideal. requires creation of an account and does not seem to be working properly. works well in Chrome, but its responses are limited in comparison with recent developments like ChatGPT, so we invite you to consider other safe AIs to carry out the task. It’s important to think about safeguarding before deciding to use a bot to interact with students. Ask yourself: Is the site going to use students’ input for the machine to keep learning? Does it require them to create an account to use it? Will any data be stored? If so, who, where, for which purposes? You might want to create one and interact yourself following students’ instructions instead, to bypass some of the safeguarding and ethical concerns. 

Follow up discussions on the future of AI, its impact in education and on our workforce, definitions of intelligence, among others, are likely to be enriching and meaningful exchanges with students.

A number of other digital literacy areas like understanding and managing our digital footprint, other aspects of netiquettes, soft and hard skills when using digital technologies, will be explored in future entries on the site, so stay tuned and come back to this section!

Learn more about this subject in this article about the need to surpass the idea that our students are digital natives and actively work to develop their digital literacy skills instead.