Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.
Are You Digitally Literate?
It's Saturday and your day off, but there is still a lot to do. You need to find a couple of new recipes for a family get-together tomorrow, so you check out a few websites and blogs. You still have to put the finishing touches on a PowerPoint project due for work on Monday. Finally, you have several emails to return to people who have inquired about furniture you've listed for sale through online classified ads.
All of these tasks may seem like second nature in our 21st century, tech-savvy culture. The internet, search engines, email programs, blogs, and online videos have all contributed to our expanding knowledge and capabilities. Proper selection, use and understanding of these tools is a capability known as digital literacy.
Digital literacy is the ability to navigate various digital platforms and understand, assess and communicate through them. When you read a book on a Kindle, consider the accuracy of a news report linked in your social media newsfeed or create and share a YouTube video, you are displaying digital literacy. Digital literacy encompasses a wide range of ''new'' technology, even the technology you're using to access this lesson! Some signs of a digitally literate individual include being able to find the right tools to consume information and to share and create content for others.
Digital literacy is important because we live in a tech-dependent world. Today, you can buy movie tickets from your smartphone, read the news on a mobile tablet or take books with you to the beach on a digital e-reader.
We need to become digitally literate to keep up with the changing times. Encyclopedias, once a staple in an American home, have given way to Google searches. Making or confirming a doctor's appointment is now easier via text than calling directly. Finding resources to help complete a homework assignment or discover what's happening in town over the weekend can all be done with the click of a mouse or the tap of a screen.
In years past, people communicated through written letters, and this required strong reading and writing skills. We now communicate through email and text, which requires those same skills but also needs digital literacy skills as well. This makes digital literacy important not only for being successful in the workplace, but in society as well.
Dr. Hiller Spires, a professor of literacy and technology at N.C. State University, explains that digital literacy has three distinct components: consuming, creating and communicating.
Consuming digital content is any information you take in using a digital platform. This includes things like watching YouTube videos or reading a magazine on your mobile tablet. As someone who possesses digital literacy, you understand how to manage the basics of consuming this content. You can flip the pages of a digital magazine, click play on a video or scroll through a news article on a website. You have an understanding of how to find the content you're seeking, such as conducting a search on a search engine or navigating the various pages of a website.
Another component of digital literary, according to Dr. Spires, is the ability to create content: making, displaying and distributing your own content through digital means. You're not only able to consume an email sent to you, but you can also compose and send a reply in response. Those who are more advanced in their digital literacy may also choose to write and publish blogs, participate in sharing posts on social media or build a website.
Communicating is the final ''C'' of the three, and promotes the idea that digital literacy requires getting information across to others using digital channels. You can text your boss that you're running late for work, email your best friends about your upcoming vacation or talk to someone on the other side of the world about a purchase you've made. Receiving communication is also important as this allows us to gain access to important news, views and issues in our communities and in other countries.
Digital literacy contains power and with that comes responsibility. It requires users to act responsibly when sharing content and to diligently check the accuracy and validity of the data consumed.
Digital literacy is the ability to navigate various digital platforms and understand, assess and communicate through them. It's the measure used to determine a user's ability to properly access and consume content from digital sources such as the internet, smartphones and mobile devices. One expert has classified digital literacy as the consuming, creating and communicating of data. Digital literacy also comes with the responsibility of using technology wisely and of confirming the accuracy and validity of the content consumed, created and shared with others.
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