Thursday, May 02, 2013

What *is* digital literacy?

Digital "Digital literacy, a term coined a mere 15 years ago, continues to defy a clear definition in part due to the fast-changing social and technical reality, where the products and services most popular today may not exist a decade hence. Glister (1997) wrote about digital literacy before Google, before Facebook, before YouTube; yet, these online tools and their associated practices – online inquiry, social networking, e-learning – are integral to the way we think about living, learning and working in our digital society. The rise of ‘casual learning’ and communities of interest online showcase the rapid movement toward informal learning contexts, where individual agency, sociality and temporal fluidity change the nature of how people see themselves as knowledge builders and experts. This issue arrives at a point in our digital evolution where we are questioning many of the assumptions about how and where learning works. The barriers that constrained digital literacy, including access to technology, expertise and social support, are becoming a thing of the past, but new questions and challenges are emerging, including: how do we understand, assess and value new digital literacies?"

Meyers, E. M., Erickson, I., & Small, R. V. (2013). Digital literacy and informal learning environments: an introduction. Learning, Media and Technology, 1-13
New technologies and developments in media are transforming the way that individuals, groups and societies communicate, learn, work and govern. This new socio-technical reality requires participants to possess not only skills and abilities related to the use of technological tools, but also knowledge regarding the norms and practices of appropriate usage. To be ‘digitally literate’ in this way encompasses issues of cognitive authority, safety and privacy, creative, ethical, and responsible use and reuse of digital media, among other topics. A lack of digital literacy increasingly implicates one's full potential of being a competent student, an empowered employee or an engaged citizen. Digital literacy is often considered a school-based competency, but it is introduced and developed in informal learning contexts such as libraries, museums, social groups, affinity spaces online, not to mention the home environment. This article recognizes and connects the ways and places we might conceptualize and realize an expanded view of digital literacy that fits today's changing reality.

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