Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Defining Digital Literacy
Adult education programs often fall short of addressing the digital literacy needs of low educated, low literacy English language learners, many of whom may not have Internet access on demand. Adult ed programs do a decent job of providing access through libraries, skill source centers, and adult education settings, however, access is only the beginning. Digital literacy encompasses a skill set that must be learned and practiced so that it can be put to use in an online setting. To that end, digital literacy is a competency for teachers, too. It is not enough to publish lofty goals for adult education programs using buzz words such as 21st century skills or technology integration without a professional development component. The most needy learners require skilled teachers. Program resources devoted to data collection and reporting do not address the digital literacy needs of these learners or their teachers. Valid data and program success, in this writer's opinion, begin with teachers. I've been following blogs and postings by David Rosen, who pointed me in the direction of a technology self-assessment tool http://www.adultedonline.org/index.cfm If you want to assess your own digital literacy skills / technology integration, give it a try. Furthermore, I am sharing David's definition of digital literacy. I think his words get to the heart of what it means to be digitally literate, for us and our adult learners. re-posted courtesy of David Rosen http://davidjrosen.wordpress.com At one end of the spectrum digital literacy means basic comfort and competence in using computers, smart phones, electronic tablets, and other web-accessible devices. Toward the other end it means what some call information literacy, the ability to judge the quality of information one receives through electronic means. If literacy is getting meaning from print, then digital literacy is getting basic meaning from what you read — or have read out loud to you – through the use of a digital electronic device. It is also, at the higher end of the spectrum, sorting out wheat from chaff, using the higher order thinking skills of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. For me digital literacy involves reading widely, keeping informed, knowing when and how to be critical and when to embrace new information, new ideas. It also means how to approach new technologies – hardware and software – skeptically, fearlessly, and with enthusiasm. It means being limber in how one thinks, agile in using technology, expecting as normal seismic shifts in new information and communication tools. Digital literacy is also fun. Unlike print literacy, we expect through digital literacy to be offered visual and sound embellishments of text. Digital magazines should be beautiful to see and hear. They should be interactive, with opportunities for talking and writing about what we read with others. Digital literacy opens a door to digital learning. We are seeing the dawn of online courses, digital chautauquas and online study circles. We are also seeing the early stages of using digital technologies to learn anywhere, anytime, and as fast or slowly as one wants, with more easily accessible and better learning resources. David J. Rosen, Ed.D. is President of Newsome Associates in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. His interests include integrating technology in the adult education classroom, using technology for learning outside the classroom, and education and employment for out-of-school youth. He is an implementation advisor for the Learner Web, a major national adult learner support initiative.