Our everyday experiences are increasingly mediated by digital technologies. As such it is vital that people are able to develop the skills, knowledge and competences needed to navigate our rapidly evolving ‘digital world’. Digital literacy should therefore be seen as an entitlement as without it we are unable to participate as fully enabled citizens or learners.
So, what is digital literacy? According to the London School of Economics’ Centre for Learning Technology:
Digital literacy is all about knowing how to find, organise, evaluate and create information using digital technology.
… and Futurelab at NFER offers an alternative definition:
Digital literacy involves critically engaging with technology and developing a social awareness of how a number of factors, including commercial agendas and cultural understandings, can shape the ways in which technology is used to convey information and meaning.
There are myriad alternative interpretations, many of which include the following components as part of a full skills and knowledge repertoire:
- Effective communication
- Cultural and social understanding
- Critical thinking
- Finding and selecting information
- Functional skills.
A useful model for interrogating digital literacy has been produced and recently updated by the Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL). ‘The Seven Pillars of Information Literacy through a Digital Lens’ offers a framework that may help to stimulate your own ideas about what it means to be digitally literate.
JISC has funded a Developing Digital Literacy programme to promote the development of coherent, inclusive approaches to digital capability across institutions of further and higher education. A number of materials have been produced to support thinking and activities around digital literacy.
JISC describes digital literacy as follows:
By digital literacy we mean those capabilities which fit an individual for living, learning and working in a digital society. For example, the use of digital tools to undertake academic research, writing and critical thinking; digital professionalism; the use of specialist digital tools and data sets; communicating ideas effectively in a range of media; producing, sharing and critically evaluating information; collaborating in virtual networks; using digital technologies to support reflection and PDP; managing digital reputation and showcasing achievements.
‘To Start Press Any Key’. Where’s the ANY key?’ Simpson, H.