Are You Digitally Literate?

This is the first installment of a series of posts about the topic of Digital Literacy.

Digital Natives

There's a group of people called "Digital Natives."  They're the people who have been exposed to computers and the Internet since childhood and seem to have an affinity for using every new tech gadget that hits the market. The opposite of  the "Digital Native" is the "Digital Immigrant."  The "Digital Immigrant" was born before technology came to be what it is today. A "Digital Immigrant" may also be someone who has had little exposure to current  technology despite their birth-year.

Digital Natives have knack for using new  technologies, but  knowing how to Google won't do much good if you don't know how to use the information it gives you. It may, in fact, do you harm. As consumers of digital information, we need to develop skills that our parents and grandparents never had. We must develop Digital Literacy.

What is Digital Literacy?

You'll find a variety of definitions for the term Digital Literacy.  ALA Connect (a site affiliated with the American Library Association), gives this definition for Digital Literacy:  "... the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills."  Let's work with that definition and think about evaluation, creation, and communication.

Evaluation

You've heard people jokingly say, "It's on the  Internet, it must be true." I hope they're joking because information on the Internet can be absolutely true, sort of true, based on truth, but simplified or embellished, or patently false. Sometimes it's obvious when an information source is designed to fool you, sometimes it isn't. As a digitally literate person, you have to know how to evaluate what you read, watch, and hear. 

Creation

Human beings have a drive to create. We do things like make objects, write stories, draw and paint pictures, give presentations, and much much more. Everything we create can be viewed as information. Today there are tons of technology tools we can use to make stuff. Some tools are easy to use, some require training. Being digitally literate means you can use these tools to say the things you want to say.

Communication

There's little point in creating information if you're not going to share it with others. Digitally literate people know how to communicate  with others using today's technology tools. Whether it's emailing a report to your boss, posting a photo on Facebook, or writing a blog, it's crucial to know how to use technology to communicate.

Learning More

In upcoming posts, I'll elaborate on these three components of Digital Literacy. I'll also provide some resources for growing your literacy skills. Until then, you might take a look at what you can learn about technology from IT Training. We have workshops for Natives, Immigrants, and everyone in-between.

Google search screen shot - Digital Literacy

About The Author
Laura ReedSocial Media Coordinator

Laura has worked for UITS for over 14 years.She is currently IU IT Training's social media coordinator.  She is a grad student in Library Science and has a penchant for reference and content curation. She dances, acts, sings, and does visual art in her spare time.