Three People and 4 Definitions of Digitial Literacy| Reflection Friday #2

Chris – Digital Literacy … Just when I was closing in on the textual literacy thingy. Dang! Another form of literacy to wrestle with in the second half of my life, like I don’t have anything else to do.

Seriously, though, let’s talk about this digital monster. I look toward the classic understanding of literacy to inform my understanding of digital .. you know. Being a fully literate person meant not only understanding the surface meaning, the diction, the syntax of a language, but also understanding the subtleties, the nuances, and the potential ramifications of what is being communicated. When someone in Texas says, “Bless your heart!” they are offering you neither a blessing nor a compliment. When a Brit says, “Brilliant!” Watch out!

So, too, with digital literacy, we must be sufficiently experienced to know what a person actually means. Further, we must be skilled in communicating our own message clearly. That, to me, is the essence of literacy in any form, especially digital. Do not shout, play nice, and be real. Simple guidelines.

Now, who is going to troll me over this one?!?

Michael – I hear people using the term digital literacy on a regular basis. Heck, there are even some conferences out there that talk about it. But if you were to ask five people what they thought digital literacy was, I am not sure you would get answers that match each other.

We need a Camp David summit where this issue can be resolved once and for all.
In the absence of that, I am going to toss my definition into the world right here, right now!

Digital Literacy is understanding and producing media to spread ideas.

So media can mean print, but today we must be able to communicate in visual images, audio and video.  Sometimes all three of those work together, sometimes they are individual. I fear we are far too focused on print only. Print is a great way to start and to curate ideas.  But it is not the main medium of communication anymore.

Jamie:  Michael stole my introduction, but he said it better than I would. :)  Digital literacy is one of the new buzzwords in education.  There seems to be a few new words that people toss around each year that everyone uses as though we all know what they mean, but I don’t think we all actually do.

Case and point, my working definition for digital literacy is very different than Michael’s.  To me, a digital literate person can effectively and efficiently use digital devices and tools to accomplish tasks.  I think of digital literacy as almost synonymous with the term computer literacy except that it encompasses all devices such as smartphones, tablets, servers, etc.

I was excited when I did a quick google search for digital literacy and found that wikipedia agreed with me, but then came across this digital literacy blog which didn’t.  Instead this site defines digital literacy as:

“The ability to understand information and  – more important – to evaluate and integrate information in the multiple contexts that the computer delivers.”

So we now have four very different definitions.  Is digital literacy about understanding the subtleties and nuances and impacts of digital communication, producing digital media to spread ideas, synonymous with computer literacy or is it about evaluating and integrating digital information projects and processes?

I think that maybe we should try to figure out which idea we are talking about before we throw the word “digital literacy” around anymore.

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About miles.mei

Multimedia Specialist

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