Digital Literacy [dij-i-tl lit-er-uh-see] verb; the act of adapting to technology beyond AppleWorks, Oregon Trail, and Number Munchers.
So this is not the official definition of digital literacy, but when I was in school in 1989, if you knew those programs you were totally rad. You probably wore your jeans stuffed into layered socks too.
I have needed to adjust my knowledge of how technology works and how it fits into my daily life. Critically thinking about what one reads is not enough to be digitally literate. One needs to interact, to understand the information in context, and use technologies to problem solve. Communicate, create, and collaborate are key components to digital literacy, and our future students will be doing these things when they enter the workforce.
Our schools teach reading and writing so that students are prepared for their future careers. However, students are not only using these skills on paper once they enter the workforce. They are utilizing technology, and need to use reading and writing in an effective manner in a digital workplace. This changes the way that teachers instruct. Critical thinking and problem solving skills must be learned, but with the additional purpose of using them in the realm of technology. They need to not simply know information, but how to find information. Students must learn to do this in a way that allows them to discern between fact and fiction.
Digital citizenship is also something students need to learn. They need to know how to interact in a responsible manner. This topic is extensive, covering health and wellness, safety, commerce, and more. For more information on digital citizenship see Nine Themes of Digital Citizenship, this article explains the subject with a far greater understanding than I have.
Recently, Marcus Wohlsen wrote an article on Wired.com about a discussion that took place between academics and representatives of technology corporations. It was brought up that some of those present believed that it was not enough to be digitally literate, but it was also necessary to be able to write code as well. It was proposed that high schools need to teach college level courses in this subject, so that students are literate in the language of coding.
I will be teaching elementary school, but if students need to learn the language of coding in high school, this will impact what I teach in my classroom. In order to have my students prepared, they need to be able to utilize technology effectively and exhibit digital citizenship at an earlier age than students are expected to do now.
I am a digital consumer, and have not been a contributor to the online world until now. This must change so that I am prepared to teach. I have to learn how to create. I must be a better participant and find a group of people online to learn from and collaborate with. To lead others into becoming digitally literate, I must first become digitally literate myself.
I have moved beyond using a green screen computer. It’s a start.
Photos CC: by Matt Mathoslan, Joseph Walsh, and Nat Welch. Listed in order of appearance.