This article will focus on ‘Digital Literacy’, what it is and what it is not. It will also enable us to understand how the use of smartphones, game consoles, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media applications is not synonymous to digital literacy. Likewise, it will educate us on the importance of digital literacy and the role of stakeholders in digital literacy development. In addition, it highlights major basic digital skills required of children, young adults and literarily anyone as they journey into the future.
To a very large extent, everyone should
be familiar with the concept of literacy—the ability to read and write. A person who is illiterate, who cannot read or write, will inevitably struggle to get along in society. It is impossible to proceed and receive higher education or get high-paying jobs without the ability to read and write. Moreover, simple tasks such as reading newspapers or filling out job applications are difficult for an illiterate. Hence, literacy is necessary for survival in society.
Apparently, literacy in today’s world goes beyond the basic ability to comprehend text in terms of reading or writing. Students who would like to excel and compete favourably in this present world will also need to master a new kind of literacy—Digital Literacy. What is Digital Literacy? Cornell University simply defines Digital Literacy as “the ability to find, evaluate, utilize, share, and create content using information technologies and the Internet.”
Digital Literacy, by this definition, encompasses a wide range of skills, all of which are necessary to succeed in an increasingly digital world. As the world goes digital, the ability to comprehend online data and information becomes automatically important, but individuals who lack digital literacy skills may soon find themselves at a disadvantage as those who cannot read or write.
Because digital literacy is so important, educators are increasingly required to teach individuals digital literacy. Individuals also need to be more conscious of this reality so as to be well guided. In a way, this is similar to what educators have always done in teaching students to read and write. However, in another way, Digital Literacy is a brand new skill.
Most individuals already use digital technology, such as tablets, smartphones and computers at home or even own one for themselves. Many students already know how to navigate the web, share images on social media, and do a Google search to find information. Nonetheless, true digital literacy goes beyond these basic skills.
As we begin, it is very important to have a common understanding of the main concepts of the title before us, the “Digital” and “Digital Literacy”. Within the context of this address, the term digital refers to the use of information technologies and the Internet. Why is digital such a big deal? Here are a few reasons. The world is connected in such a way that news is available at our fingertips as it happens. Everyday activities – such as shopping, studying, using a telephone and banking – increasingly require interaction with technology. Children are born into a digital world and exposed to technology from a young age. At work, many routine processes are being automated, and at school, digital technology has opened up new ways of teaching and learning. On this account, technology is impacting on every area of life and the speed of change is accelerating.