What is Digital Literacy? I have heard this term banded around for a while now and in mind it is clear, but when I refer to it in conversation with teachers, parents or businesses – I have been asked on more than a few occasions “what does that mean?”

So this blog is dedicated to explaining my understanding of digital literacy and some thoughts around what I feel we all should be doing to increase awareness and prepare for an increasingly digital era!

Literacy – now normally literacy is about reading and writing skills but when you add on Digital this term takes on a whole new meaning. There is reading and writing involved in this term but let’s just stop and think about just how much technology has changed in the last few years. Let’s just think about how much communication has changed!

Some experts say it refers to everything from receiving a message through a given platform to uploading and creating content and sharing it with the world.

So I read somewhere that there are really three area that Digital Literacy is concerned with:

  1. Searching stuff
  2. Creating stuff
  3. Communicating stuff

Searching ‘Stuff’.

So the first section of searching for ‘Stuff’ – this can be pretty much anything and when searching for information and consuming it – it can be somewhat like looking through a book for information and reading it but you might do this in a digital way and read it online. That is not really an interactive experience apart from the search taking place and the effort of looking for the information in a physical way is moved. Reading is reading online or in print so the skills that may need to be taught is navigation and understanding what hyperlinks are – the experience by the user maybe different as their choices maybe different but in essence you are consuming the information through reading. The digital literacy aspects that need to be thought about are around searching, navigation and consumption. Students have to query a search engine using keywords and navigate those results, including assessing the reliability of particular authors and websites.

Creating ‘Stuff’.

Now this is my favourite bit – creating things. This can include writing anything in a digital format such as email, blogs, and Tweets, as well as creating other forms of media, such as videos and podcasts.

Creating digital content is so, so, so powerful!! It is creative and very collaborative also. From my personal experience it can be scary as well as you are putting a lot of yourself out there. There are so many aspects of digital literacy that can be approached in this section. How do you write a successful blog, Tweet or post? What are the elements that effect these? What is purpose of the content and what are you trying to achieve?  How are you design the content? How are you producing the content? How this he content performing?

It is really an exciting area to explore and when I was teaching I really would have designing a whole scheme of work around this!!

Communicating ‘Stuff’

For me this section is about all types of communication – it can be about email etiquette how to share content. This is what makes the digital writing/content a potentially powerful and potentially dangerous tool—decisions about when and what to share online can have repercussions for a student’s safety, privacy, and reputation.

For that reason, learning about appropriate internet behaviour is also a part of digital literacy. We collectively need to help kids see they can use digital tools to create things and put things out into the world, but there’s responsibility that comes with that and we need to make that explicit.

We can’t hide from the digital world so we should embrace and use its benefits gratefully but also we as teachers and parent have a responsibility to ensure that we a teaching the next generation about the capabilities, potential and dangers of the digital world.