What is digital literacy?
Let’s define digital literacy and explore what it takes to live, learn, and work in a digital society.
Long gone are the days when you’d have to flip through stacks of books at your local library to obtain information. Every day, internet users worldwide can also search and navigate information online, often sharing it with others through email, messaging, or social media. The ability to do this confidently and successfully has a lot to do with digital literacy — let’s dive into what the term means.
What does digital literacy mean?
Much like “literacy” is the ability to read and write, digital literacy is the ability to navigate, evaluate, and communicate information online or in a digital format. While the exact definition may vary between companies, universities, or institutions, you can generally break down the concept of digital literacy into three main skills. These are:
- How you consume information. This is the ability to complete digital tasks like using an e-reader in a classroom, viewing your online banking statements, or reading an online news article.
- How you create information. This skill includes everything from making and editing videos to writing articles to creating and editing PDFs.
- How you communicate information. Once you have information, you’ll need to know how to share it. Communication can look like many different things — from composing a tweet or sending an email to sharing documents online with your team and more.
From school to the workforce, digital literacy is vital in many areas of life — but simply, having it is an absolute necessity for anyone who uses the internet. Sometimes forms and applications are only available online, so you’ll need to be comfortable accessing and using them. The ability to evaluate whether a website is authentic or not can save you from headaches, and knowing how to share documents can help keep workflows moving. In short, digital literacy is a necessary skill for navigating our modern, digital world.
What are the 4 principles of digital literacy?
The four principles of digital literacy are:
- Comprehension. A digitally literate person is able to extract meaning from digital information.
- Curation. This is a skill you can develop as you become more confident in curating online content — discovering, storing, and sorting through content.
- Interdependence. One benefit of digital information is that it can link to other sources. Digital literates understand this interdependence and the connections between data, content, and platforms.
- Social factors. This means understanding the impact of creating communities online and building personal resilience as well as self-protection.
Are internet literacy and digital literacy the same thing?
No, internet literacy and digital literacy are not the same thing.
Digital literacy means having the skills you need to live, learn, and work in a society with increasing communication and access to information. On the other hand, internet literacy is the ability to seek out information using the internet.
What is digital literacy in education?
Digital literacy in education consists of:
- The ability to control devices like the keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, and more.
- The digital skill to navigate user interfaces online, meaning finding and moving files, organizing folders, and using hyperlinks.
- Familiarity with how to communicate in digital spaces, sharing images, audio, files, and texts.
Digital literacy can be helpful in engaging students with diverse perspectives and dialogues.
The importance of digital literacy in education.
Students these days are growing up surrounded by technology. This means that digital literacy is essential in education because it helps ensure consistent and rewarding student learning experiences, as well as future employability.
Digital literacy teaches students effective strategies to find credible information, compare sources, and avoid websites that contain biased or misinformed material.
Teaching digital literacy in the classroom also helps decrease online risks for children. Although digital literacy won’t necessarily prevent students from having to face safety challenges online, it can empower them with knowledge and the right tools and resources to protect their own safety and privacy.
How to create your own digital literacy curriculum.
Whether you’re an educator or just trying to improve your own digital literacy, here are some tips on how to create your digital literacy curriculum:
- Identify your target audience. Remember to ask yourself who you will be teaching. Your curriculum will depend on whether you are teaching a child who is unfamiliar with technology, an adult that needs to learn about specific skills for the workplace, or a senior who hasn’t been exposed to technology but needs it to carry on with daily tasks.
- Think about your time frame. Knowing what time of day your students will be engaging with your material is a very important factor to have in mind. The time of day you will spend teaching your students should have an effect on your teaching methods. In addition to this, you should also consider how many lessons you can teach so that you spread the content accordingly.
- Include interactive activities. When you get down to actually planning your lessons, think about what types of activities you will create for your students, as they will make a big difference when it comes to their reception of the material. It’s important to include hands-on experience activities as much as possible and give handouts or send follow-up emails so your students can remember the material after class.
What makes for an effective digital literacy program?
Various schools and teachers have noticed the need to not only address digital literacy with their students but also implement it in the school program.
On the other hand, since seniors have not been exposed to modern technology, they may fall victim to scams or data privacy issues. Here are some tips for teaching digital literacy to children and seniors.
More resources on education.
Now that you know what digital literacy is, here are additional education resources to learn about:
- Learn how to scan a book to PDF.
- Learn how to digitize receipts for taxes.
- Need to mark up or highlight your textbooks? Learn how to use an Apple Pencil on a PDF file.
- Learn how using text extraction from images can help students.
Take a moment to explore everything you can do with Acrobat today to make navigating digital files easy.