The digital world has greatly impacted most of our lives. The global pandemic has made us more dependent on our electronics than ever before. In the past many thought hours of screen time was synonymous with wasting time. Now we are forced to work and learn from screens on a daily basis. Digital Literacy has never been so important.
What Is It?
Digital Literacy may be a term you have heard before but might not understand. Most of us recognise that the word “literacy” refers to reading and writing skills. Yes, reading and writing are an integral part of digital literacy but it encompasses much more. To put it simply, digital literacy is our ability to use, find, evaluate, and write clear information on a variety of digital platforms. Digital literacy requires both cognitive and technical skills which are essential to thrive in a digital society.
With the direction the world is going in, digital literacy will impact all areas of life. One major area is education. Many sixth form students were forced to have zoom call interviews and complete online assessments to secure your spots on internships during the current COVID-19 pandemic. University students are accessing all their lectures and completing assignments from home. Even people in the workforce are completing online training, taking part in conference calls and working remotely. Without digital literacy these things could not happen.
Digital Literacy in Education
We have the responsibility of preparing pupils for a new digital world. Many schools have employed online resources they may not have typically used before to support pupils with remote learning. Anecdotes from teachers have shown the challenges some pupils have had with accessing work online. It is clear that teaching pupils how to thrive and survive in our digital world is now as important as reading and writing.
“Digital skills development needs to be prioritised. The government needs to develop a strategy to support those working in education and individual education organisations need to take a comprehensive look at digital literacy within their curriculum.”
–NCFE, a leading provider of educational services, 2020
Employers expect their workforce to have the skills needed to survive, work, and thrive in a digital society. Equipping pupils with these skills starts now. Unfortunately the development of these skills can be hindered if pupils do not have access to technological resources at home. This negatively affects the progress of disadvantaged pupils who end up falling behind. Digital literacy requires cognitive and technical skills. More focus on the cognitive skills can help support disadvantaged pupils.
Creativity and critical thinking are two very important areas of cognitive development. Pupils should be encouraged to consider different pathways and ask questions to generate new ideas. They should also be able to evaluate information, identify patterns and use their analysis to make meaningful judgements they can apply in the real world. The curriculum taught and the learning environment (home or classroom) must provide greater opportunities for students to develop their critical thinking and flourish their creative thinking. Remote learning must consider these needs.
It’s Here to Stay
By observing society today it is clear that the digital world is flourishing. Our pupils must been well equipped to take on the challenges of our ever-changing technological world. Now is the time to embrace it and become digitally literate.