What is digital literacy?

Digital literacy is the concept and practice of everyday human behaviors, such as thoughts and actions, broadcasted over social mediums using technological devices. There is a plethora of medias available to showcase digital literacy waiting for us to embrace both in and out of the classroom.

“Digital literacy is not a new literacy.” This quote comes from the article ‘Embracing the Squishiness of Digital Literacy” by Zac Chase and Diana Laufenberg. (You can read this article through the King Library database here!) I agree with it completely. Often we forget ‘technology’ does not strictly apply to just our generation. There was a point in time when the scroll was the most up-to-date form of the written word. Later the invention of the printing press introduced the world to mass exposure of literature, news and other printed information. To the people who lived in that time, this was their mode of digital literacy. Today iPads, Kindles and phones are our forms of digital literacy. Because the capabilities of digital literacy have always been available, they have been as fluid as our culture changes. The fact that I found this article while sitting on my couch in my PJs, with the help of Chadron State’s online library resources, is proof of that.

When it comes to talents in the field of digital literacy, I am probably best at reading and comprehending the available information. Having always enjoyed reading, I learned how find new reading materials years ago. My digital literacy weakness is probably researching useful/informative materials for others, as a teacher should. I haven’t really had to yet, but I probably will also struggle with presenting the information, at first anyway. Computers have never really been my strong suite – I usually prefer a pencil and paper – so I am grateful for the classes we have over using technology in the classroom.

When it comes to the best way of learning and teaching methods involving digital literacy, I think we all just need to embrace it with an open mind. In order to effectively use digital literacy to its full potential, we need to be willing to reach into all of its corners. All of the components of digital literacy work together to complement each other. Yes, an individual TedTalk video will have a positive impact when watched in class, but an even larger impact can be made when paired with teacher-placed pauses accompanied with analytical questions that help the students develop their own thoughts on the topic.

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