Digital Literacy on its part, was aptly defined by UNESCO as “the ability to access, manage, understand, integrate, communicate, evaluate and create information safely and appropriately through digital technologies for study, employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship. It includes competences that are variously referred to as computer literacy, ICT literacy, information literacy and media literacy.” It also includes the skills everyone needs to be effective online, be it searching for information, evaluating online information, communicating and sharing, or finding the right digital or online tools to suit particular needs.
In essence, digital literacy is about using your digital skills in different contexts and having the confidence to decide what is right for you, and its importance in all areas of life cannot be underestimated. While digital skills focus on different IT tools to use for different tasks and how to use those tools, digital skills also cover a wide range of software and services, depending on specialty, preference and career.
To the individuals and most importantly educators, digital literacy is giving individuals the ability to think about why we use certain applications and why not others. For example, why do we choose to use Twitter??What are the risks involved in doing so? On the other side, digital skills involve teaching the essentials which are required for using such digital applications, such as how to tweet, how to retweet, hashtags, trends, etc.
With the rise in the digital wave across the world, it would be wise to be acquainted and well-informed about digital technology for a secure and safe future. There is no doubt that the future is connected with study, work and everyday life.
The fact still remains that the future will always be more digital, but the question is how best are we prepared for that life and how do we set our full potentials free? To answer this question, you need to understand there are four levels of digital literacy which are:
“… no digital skills required—digital technology may as well be magic”.
“… the ability to use digital technology purposefully and confidently to communicate, find information and purchase goods/services”.
“… at the higher end, the ability to evaluate, configure and use complex digital systems. Elementary programming skills such as scripting are often required for these tasks.” Also, website and graphics designs fall under this category.
With this framework, you need to appraise yourself to determine where you are presently and what level you will like to move to. Mastering the basics of technology and online communication will definitely open new doors for you to succeed in a digital world and boost your confidence, so that you can take on new challenges as they arise.
As you start a new journey of life today, I will like to recommend the following fundamental skills for your everyday life:
- Finding, managing and storing digital information and content.
- Communicating, interacting, collaborating, sharing and connecting with others.
- Buying and selling goods and services, organizing your finances and using digital government services.
- Solving problems and finding solutions using digital tools.
- Creating basic digital content in order to engage with digital communities and organizations.
Like learning a language, this kind of fluency will build up with regular practice. Develop your skills in searching the Internet, using social media and solving everyday problem using online information. Another skill that requires your attention is safety. Online Safety is an important aspect of life online. It can involve managing your digital identity, assessing the accuracy of different sources of information, regularly updating anti-virus software on your computer, using the right security settings, avoiding scams and hoaxes, protecting your privacy and respecting the privacy of others.
To other stakeholders, how can we help individuals navigate the digital world? The need to help individuals embrace digital literacy skills should become a top priority in the private and public sectors. Because digital literacy is so important, educators are increasingly required to teach individuals digital literacy as a brand new subject in the classroom. In many ways, this is similar to what educators have always done in teaching students to read and write. In fact, government and other institutions should also provide the necessary infrastructure especially the broadband and policies that can drive digital literacy initiatives.
Going forward, there is no doubt that you will need digital literacy to be successful in your personal and professional lives in this digitally increasing world. Learning how to locate information is just one part of digital literacy, knowing how to share information is another. Today, you are constantly warned about the dangers of posting inappropriate images or texts online, but it is still important for teachers to address this in their digital literacy programmes. The ability to create and share online is considered a part of digital literacy and should be taught in schools.
You should know how digital writing differs from traditional writing—for example, how to include images and links in your writing. Also, you need to have an understanding of the kind of online audience/followers you are sharing content and data with. Just like telling a story differs from painting a picture, a post on Facebook is different from an article for a website or blog. Hence another need for the proper digital skills required for online content writing and sharing.
In conclusion, the relevance of digital skills in our present world is unquantifiable and as technology becomes a necessity of our daily lives, it is important now more than ever for educators to teach individuals Digital Literacy. Whether they plan to further their education or not, individuals will always need digital literacy to be successful in their personal and professional lives. Therefore, let us all endeavour to have the necessary digital training, so that we can have a better future and be able to succeed in our ever-evolving world of Information Technology.