Digital Literacy is the Most Important Lifelong Learning Tool
With the increased importance of technology in society, digital literacy is gaining recognition as the most valuable tool for lifelong learning. What does this mean? Essentially, as citizens of a global society, the influence of social media, technology, and online resources is massive. For children, the access to a home computer with internet increases their likelihood of college attendance exponentially. For adults, the ever evolving tech world can either help them succeed or hold them back.
Society has changed over the last 15 years. It has become increasingly important to continue education after entering the workforce. The influence of technology on business is the main reason for this new mandate. In early learning through adulthood, digital literacy is showing the most promise for success. The edtech industry has long-focused on the value of digital competency for children. It’s time digital literacy was incorporated into adult education in the same way, but with a few adjustments.
The foundation of digital literacy has four factors. Technological skills and access, authorship rules, representation rules, and online social responsibility. For students and employees to interact responsibly in a digital society, it’s imperative to understand all four parts of the puzzle.
The core competencies of using computers, navigating the internet, and having access to broadband internet are essential to success. In today’s schools, students who utilize online research and display computer skills are more likely to graduate. Additionally, organizations like DigitalLiteracy.gov emphasize the importance of harnessing technology to find work and advance in your career.
Authorship understanding is becoming increasingly essential every day. Individuals can create and share content seamlessly in the digital age. This ability allows global citizens to interact and bond together for common goals. It also means that discerning authentic content is becoming harder to do. Those with good digital literacy skills will have the advantage of sharing ideas efficiently and knowledgeably filtering content.
Related to authorship is the issue of digital representation. Knowing how to decide what content is authentic and what isn’t is essential for every citizen. Understanding how to use resources like Politifact and Snopes will help individuals navigate representation issues more soundly.
To use technology and the internet in your life, it’s imperative to understand all the tenants of digital literacy. Lastly, and possibly most important, is digital ethics or online social responsibility. Digital ethics is the discernment of what is appropriate to say, do and share. It also includes observance of copyright laws and privacy.
To fully embrace digital literacy, individuals must also learn digital citizenship. The tenants of this idea are much more sophisticated than those of literacy. However, they guide behavior online, safety practices and research rules. Comprehension of the nine elements of digital citizenship will make technology safer and more helpful for children and adults, alike.
Understanding the Stats
In a 2013 report by the New York City Comptroller’s Office, the educational achievement of homes without broadband access was disproportionately poor. 42% of disconnected households attained less than high school graduation, and only 5% earned a Bachelor’s degree. Similar educational deficiencies were noted in a 2011 Microsoft infographic. The infographic suggested that 77% of jobs will require digital competency by 2020. Additionally, it recorded a 6% greater high school graduation rate for students with home access to technology.
Does the research suggest that mere access to internet and technology will improve educational and career performance? Not exactly. There are other important factors to success. Students need to be digitally literate which includes an understanding of digital citizenship rules.
The ability to use technology isn’t enough to advance individuals. Technology use comes with many possible hurdles which can present themselves to halt progress. Things like improper research practices can hurt student performance. Additionally, unsafe internet practices and inappropriate online activity can harm employees. To avoid these common missteps, people need proper education on digital citizenship and literacy.
From pre-k through adult life, technology is ingratiated in daily living. According to the International Guidelines on Information Literacy, technological education should start early. However, the report also states that teaching and improvement should continue throughout life to support personal and career growth. The European Commission Joint Research Center agrees. The commission suggests that digital literacy is essential to school success and later lifelong improvement.
Embracing technology and digital literacy is a key factor to encourage learning from infancy through adulthood. The impact of technology on learning has roots in the science of how we learn. As such, it has long been important to encourage academic advancement. However, the development of a global society has made involvement mandatory for successful individuals from all walks of life.
How does digital literacy inform your life? What continued learning tools have you embraced in your career? We want to hear your experiences.