Digital Literacy

Well we’re always asking learners to write about what they’re learning and submit blog posts as evidence so here’s me – writing a blog post as (hopefully) evidence for my “Digital Literacy Practitioner” course!

What we’re been asked to do is:

Using the research you started on day 1 of the course ( choose an appropriate digital medium to explain the role of digital literacy in the lives of adults and young people. is a collaborative bookmarking tool a bit like Diigo and I’ve started to put a few thing in there which summarise my thinking on the topic. You can see these here.

The first thing I thought of was on the topic of ‘the role of digital literacy is society’ was Erik Qualman’s ‘socialnomics’ video and stats.

While this is primarily aimed at businesses it has a lot of relevance to individuals as well. The staggering statistics (1 billion Facebook users) and interfaces with the real world (relationships, jobs, spending) show how all-pervading digital literacy needs to be.

The ‘digital shadow’ he mentions is the counterpart of the digital footprint which the digital responsibility elements of the new ESW refer to. A digital footprint is what you add – a digital shadow is what other people are posting about you, whether that’s lively nights out with mates or a proud parent who is perhaps not entirely au fait with Facebook’s privacy settings.

Another blogger on the topic whose writing I regularly read is Doug Belshaw, who has been working for Mozilla on ‘web literacy standards’. A recent post about the development of the framework shows how it developed and the thinking behind it. Here’s the link – click with caution as he uses a rather blunter phrase than “assessing credibility” in the first draft…

This model is more focussed on skills than the ESW standards but there is a lot of overlap and it has a clear focus on what “citizens” on the web should be able to do. There’s a focus here on sharing, openess and community participation. Interestingly (controversially?) he believes e-safety is an output not an input of the process of digital literacy!
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

The shift to digital has been a long slow process, still ongoing.  (The quote opposite is from a  30 year old science fiction programme! )

It has met with resistance on the way,  whether over large things such as the value of 1-1 laptop and tablet programmes in schools or little things like “do we still need page numbers.”

The model of “digital native” versus “digital immigrant” has become a popular one but doesn’t entirely capture the ‘gaps’ which many people, even those who’ve grown up with technology have in their digital literacy.

The ability to find organise, assess and manage data is a common shortcoming. Making sense of search results, choosing useful search terms, and finding deeper data that is not on the first page of Google are common challenges we face even with confident IT users.

It is however an essential one as the ever increasing amount of data available means any sort of self study or day to day use of the internet requires strong sorting and filtering skills.

Knowing where to start when considering using a new piece of software can also be difficult and is an important digital literacy skill.

As pointed out in one article among my Scoops, there is a more or less absolute assumption these days that jobseekers will be using the internet. The access issues and digital literacy skills (or lack of) are thus vital all the way from school, to finding a job and to the workplace itself (Where 32% of employers report skills digital skills gaps)

In short digital literacy is becoming, at an increasing rate, as important as the traditional “reading and writing” model of literacy which we normally think of.

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