The definition of literacy has evolved in the 21st century. The basic definition of literacy means to be able to read and write. To be successful in today’s digital world, literacy goes far beyond being able to read and write. What it means to be digitally literate has reflected the change in how information is processed, delivered, and received in today’s highly connected world. The University Library of The University of Illinois 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.
- A person’s ability to perform tasks effectively in a digital environment… Literacy includes 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.
Digital Literacy includes learning how to use technology’s tools. The list of digital tools is never ending. New releases make something that was new yesterday old today. Educators as well as students must thoughtfully determine which tools are essential to their digital literacy tool kit. Tool kits vary from one educator to another as they do from one student to another. Once you have mastered a particular tool, move on to another so you can increase your digital power.
Students are wired to learn digitally. They come to us with handhelds practically attached to their limbs. Our obligation is to teach them to become responsible digital citizens as well as discerning users of everything the internet has to offer in our globally collaborative world. Pamela Ann Kirst states in a November 2013 Zanesville Times Recorder article “Accessing information takes a nanosecond; the assimilation of that information, the interpretation and application of it, are the skills we need today. Anyone with Internet skills can find the data; it’s the finder who can tell us why it’s important that gets recognized.”
Media literacy is a 21st century approach to education in which the Center for Media Literacy defines as:
A framework to access, analyze, evaluate, create and participate with messages in a variety of forms — from print to video to the Internet. Media literacy builds an understanding of the role of media in society as well as essential skills of inquiry and self-expression necessary for citizens of a democracy.
“Technology ignites opportunities for learning, engages today’s students as active learners and participants in decision-making on their own educational futures and prepares our nation for the demands of a global society in the 21st century.”
US Digital Literacy believes in supporting Instructional Technologists in every school to facilitate digital and media literacy instruction for all children and all teachers and staff. School systems should make provisions for a certified Instructional Technologist in every school to truly embrace 21st century education in their schools. All districts need to look forward to what will continue to transform education and what has only been a taste of the evolution of technology in the lives of our children.
While in her blog article “14 things that are obsolete in 21st Century Schools”, Ingvi Hrannar Ómarsson states “The idea of taking a whole class to a computer room with outdated equipment, once a week to practice their typewriting skills and sending them back to the classroom 40 minutes later, is obsolete. Computers or technology should not just be a specific subject, that’s not sufficient anymore but rather it should be an integral part of all the subjects and built into the curriculum.” But be careful in your plans for that old computer lab, it does NOT have to be removed from the building, it simply needs a visionary at your school to help repurpose it. Regenerating a computer lab into a Maker Space, Reading Lab with devices, a SMART lab or other 21st Century space will help teachers understand the need to step out of dated practice.
“Technology must be like oxygen: ubiquitous, necessary, and invisible.” -Chris Lehmann, Principal of Science Leadership Academy
Read Article (Staff | digitalliteracy.us | 04/19/2016)
For most of us education did not begin in this fashion. The digital literacy of technology just left us behind (though some will deny it). Nevertheless, all adults have been striving in some way to either learn & catch-up or upgrade their skills ever since the digital era began.
The problem is, this stuff can be complicated for most of us without some kind of assistance which shouldn’t be hard to find. But unfortunately, that’s not quite true. Beyond family, friends or volunteer organizations there are not many places to turn to for gaining that assistance. Then when you do find a source to learn, many times, it’s not easy to get there or access.
Which brings us to this campaign. Assistance with learning to use high-tech devices that connect to the Internet and digital literacy is what we are all about. Check out our campaign and see how we can provide face-to-face assistance, where you can even ask questions, right from the comfort and security on home.
Master Level High-Tech Webinars