I know you are wondering what exactly is digital literacy? Is it just what the term sounds like? “Digital literacy is the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.” Digital literacy has three main components:
1) Finding and consuming digital content
2) Creating digital content
3) Communicating or sharing it.
The first component is pretty much the same as reading a print book. Besides the difference in turning a page on an e-reader, reading digital content is not much different than reading print. However, this type of reading is not interactive unless students are taught additional skills on how to annotate. Highlighting, taking notes, sharing content with added comments all are part of annotating which allow the student to be more engaged in reading. This is not only helpful for comprehension, but it is necessary to become an active learner who retains information and can apply it for later use. Another important aspect of digital literacy is learning to search for content in an online space. Students have to determine the most effective keywords to yield the best results as well as assess the reliability of content and websites.
The second component of digital literacy involves content creation.This includes writing in digital formats such as email, blogs, and Tweets, as well as creating other forms of media, such as videos and podcasts. Creating digital content requires creativity, collaboration and risk taking. Because the purpose of digital writing is to communicate with others, it is more often shared than printer writing. This enables students to actively share their views and participate in civil discourse.
Sharing content is the third component of digital literacy and related to creating content. Although It is amazing that children/teens can contribute to society more easily than in the past, with that privilege also comes an added responsibility. Sharing content can have consequences such as risks to students’ safety, privacy and reputation. Students need to be taught appropriate internet behavior. We, as teachers and parents, cannot assume they know these rules.
Whether we like digital literacy or not, it is here to stay and more likely possibly replace literacy of the past. With this realization, digital design, coding, and problem solving will be important skills for students to learn in the future if they will succeed in the future, global society and job market.