What is digital literacy?

Monday, November 15th, 2010 | education

Digital literacy must not be confused with computer literacy. 

Computer literacy refers to the ability to use a computer.  This includes knowing where to press the buttons to perform elementary operations on the machine, such as switching it on and off and retrieving and storing information.  A computer literate person knows basic computer programs, such as word processing, and can use e-mail and the internet.

A first goal for teachers is to become computer literate – the next one is to become digitally literate.  Digital literacy is attained when you no longer focus on the technology itself, but use digital devices to perform functions that allow you to survive in a world dominated by technology.

Let’s look at an example to illustrate why more than mere computer dexterity is needed:

Information is dumped on you in unimaginable quantities and in different forms: text, graphics, voice, video and combinations of these.  Computers and other technologies present this information to you in digital format and computer literacy allows to you access the information sources.

Many lifetimes are insufficient for you to wade through all the information available to you right now.  How can you make sense of all this information?  Digital literacy will come to your rescue – it will provide you with those skills needed to search for relevant information, locate it, evaluate it, organize it, understand it and then use the results of your efforts to create new knowledge.

The internet is particularly challenging – it is rich in reliable and valuable information but it also contains conflicting and misleading sources.  Digital literacy is required to make the right information choices.  You also need to be digitally savvy to succeed in putting together all the information you’ve gathered to create new knowledge.

Teachers, if you have computer facilities in your school, don’t fall into the trap of focusing too much on promoting computer literacy as an end in itself.  Help learners to become digitally literate, empowering them to function as digital citizens in a world that demands nothing less from them.

For more technology tips for teachers click here.

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3 Comments to What is digital literacy?

[...] digital literacy. [...]

Albie
Tuesday, 16 November, 2010

I agree – we must get learners just to use the “computer language” to even get skills in other digital devices. All these devices are “linked” and interconnected to one another in mvarious ways and means and can “communicate” to one another despite its shape, size and looks. Digital literacy to me is to use all “elctronic devices” to make your task DAILY task e.g. typing easier.

For example, when I travel my cell phone receives email messages (and my normal sms messages). I can quickly scan them and respond depending on my travelling area (don’t drink and drive; nor digit and drive !!). I got a microphone attached to my laptop that is “sitting” next to me as a passenger (very quitely) and I got a headset “talking” to my computer in Notepad and in MS Word – and it “text” my verbal voice and words and capture it, I then save it and if their are some language errors or punctuation slips, I corrected it later.

So the moral of the story, I use digital equipment, devices and software to make my daily computer keyboard tasks easier. Even my cell phone is now and then “talking digital” to my computer while I am driving and drinking my Guava Juice !

Albie Digit

[...] Digital literacy not only equips learners for future jobs – it also helps them to secure jobs.  We are faced with staggering unemployment statistics; anything that can contribute towards finding work needs serious consideration.  [...]

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