We live in a digital age. Unfortunately, we need to keep up with it.

There are so many definitions of digital literacy. Library.illinois.edu (University of Illinois library) defines digital literacy as “the ability to use digital technology, communication tools or  networks to locate, evaluate, use, and create information; the ability to understand and use information in multiple formats from a wide range of sources when it is presented via computers; there ability to perform tasks effectively in a digital environment including the ability to read and interpret media, to reproduce data and images through digital manipulation, and to evaluate and apply new knowledge gained from digital environments.” Reading all that makes my head hurt. So, to make it easier, I’ll tell you my take on digital literacy. Digital literacy is the ability to use technologies (computers, tablets, e-readers etc. . .) to find, understand, use, and create information. It is the ability to use what you find or generate creatively and apply it to your project. There, simple, right? I don’t think that education institutions what to be quite so simplistic. Digital fluency is easier to understand. It is the ability or aptitude to intercept the data you find in the digital media, to find meaning, to create, and to communicate ideas digitally. Both of these concepts require technical skills, unfortunately. There are eight essential elements of digital literacy. The first is cultural. This means the context in which the literacy is situated, where the information is from. The second is cognitive. This means the different ways we think when we are using technology verses the way we think when we are not. The third is communicative. This is how technology is used to enhance communications, such as Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. Confident is the fourth. It requires a bit of confidence to explore, use, master, and/or learn technology. The fifth is creative. Creativity is required to take on technology as well as some risk taking. The sixth is Constructive. This means we should use technology in a constructive way as technology isn’t a passive undertaking. The seventh is critical. We need to look at technologies with a critical eye, both the technology and the reasons for using it. The final essential element of digital literacy is civic. This means that technology needs to be used for the “greater good”, which is hard to actually define, because I don’t think that a topless photo shared online is exactly “greater good” worthy, but someone else may think that it is.

Now, I am excellent at conducting information sources. I am great at finding and utilizing scholarly and reputable sources. I use technology to share with my family because we’re far away from one another. I’m efficient with sharing, but for the most part, I’m a little afraid of my computer because it has too many functions that I don’t quite understand. I want to learn how to use technology creatively. I’m not overly creative, I don’t really have the time. I don’t take many risks with technology, again, afraid to do something wrong and break it. I basically just use Facebook to share photos of my kids with my friends and family who live far away, and don’t get me started on Twitter, I think I’ve composed twenty tweets, maybe a few more. I use the internet to search for sources for research papers, and that has been the extent of my computer usage. I’d like to learn to use technology as a creative outlet. I expect that, in order to learn this, I will have to work harder than I ever have because I have to overcome a type of fear. Technology is constantly changing, and if I don’t catch up with it, I’ll be left behind. In order to fully step into the digital world, I have to embrace all of the changes, and fiddle with my computer, opening functions I haven’t ever opened, though my three year olds can do that. I need to figure out how I can use it confidently and creatively.

Sounds simple to you, huh? Well, it’s seriously intimidating to me.

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One thought on “We live in a digital age. Unfortunately, we need to keep up with it.

  1. I really like your streamlined definition. You’re absolutely right: we tend to make some of these terms far more complicated than they need to be. For me, creativity is a really important part of digital literacy. We can’t simply consume the internet for information anymore. We need to contribute as well, to learn and share our learning, to create products that show what we’re learning and doing, to be part of the conversation. I understand what you mean about time and how it’s very difficult to be creative without these long chunks of free and open time.

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