“The new computer codes may have made us illiterate again.”
- Vilem Flusser, Does Writing Have a Future? -
In a world quickly saturating with awareness of “fake news,” corporate and government surveillance, algorithm accidents, wirelessly “wired” homes and bodies, and the exponential growth of online-only information, access, data, and entertainment, the concept of digital literacy has become a worldwide priority and concern. Governments, institutions, and personal experiences indicate that whatever can be digitized probably will be – from work to resources, learning to relationships to play. In only a few decades, the digital has become our primary form of communication, principle access to information, and crucial form of access to employment, health, and social lives.
In other words, the human decision to “go digital” is changing us, and fast.
I recently took part in a 4-week course entitled “Rethinking Digital Literacy” with educators, librarians, and professionals from all over the world. You guessed it – it was “online-only”! Reviewing national policies, institutional and educational initiatives, global security and privacy issues, and studies of human-computer interaction, we made considerable effort to comprehend what “literacy” means for a technologizing process that threads through all aspects of our lives.
Here are a few international statements:
These hefty, encompassing and abbreviated descriptions indicate that when we talk about literacy in a digital world – we are really addressing a significant range of literacies! Doug Belshaw, an international consultant on new literacies, in his fantastic continuing study entitled What is Digital Literacy? (http://neverendingthesis.com) – suggests 8 Essential Elements comprising digital literacies
As with the British Columbia definition – Belshaw’s elements point out that developing digital literacies are not only about skills and abilities to use digital technologies, but involve a slew of attitudes and dispositions as well.
I find it useful to consider digital literacies as an ongoing and unending process of developing abilities and knowledge necessary for meaningful participation in digital cultures. These would include:
However we conceive of them – the range of literacies necessary for us to safely and effectively participate in our increasingly digital world can be daunting! Technologies change by the minute, and there looks to be no slowing down – how do we develop these literacies?
Your libraries and librarians are here to help! WSU Libraries provide “Digital Literacy Workshops” every semester, and we are trained to help you use, evaluate and create with digital resources and technologies:
Belshaw, D. A. J. (2012). What is “digital literacy”? A Pragmatic investigation. Durham University, Durham, UK. Retrieved from : http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/3446/
Digital Literacy Definition | ALA Connect. (2011). Retrieved January 10, 2018, from http://connect.ala.org/node/181197
Education, M. of. (n.d.). Digital Literacy - Province of British Columbia. Retrieved January 10, 2018, from https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/k-12/teach/teaching-tools/digital-literacy
Flusser, V., & Poster, M. (2011). Does writing have a future? Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
UNESCO IITE | E-library | Digital literacy in education. (2011). Retrieved January 10, 2018, from http://iite.unesco.org/publications/3214688/