Breaking Down Digital Literacy to Build Understanding

What does digital literacy mean?

According to the library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, digital literacy has a three-part definition.  The first part is that digital literacy is “[t]he ability to use digital technology, communication tools or networks to locate, evaluate, use and create information.  The second part is that it is “[t]he ability to understand and use information in multiple formats from a wide range of sources when it is presented via computers”.  Lastly, digital literacy is “[a] person’s ability to perform tasks effectively in a digital environment… Literacy includes the ability to read and interpret media, to reproduce data and images through digital manipulation, and to evaluate and apply new knowledge gained from digital environments” (retrieved 6/9/2016).  Essentially, this means that digital literacy is the ability to effectively understand and use technology and information in order to perform a task or meet a goal.

What is digital fluency?

According to a journal article written by Gerald K. White for the Australian Council for Educational Research, digital fluency is the term used to describe the “skills necessary for learning in the digital age” (retrieved 6/9/2016).  This creates a very important distinction between digital literacy and digital fluency.  If one were to compare it to reading, digital fluency would be like the ability to see a word, sound it out, and look it up if need be.  Digital literacy would then be the ability to understand the word within the context of a sentence and use it successfully in one’s own writing and speaking.  Therefore, it is necessary for the success of both digital fluency and digital literacy that they are used in tandem, but it is also important to note that digital fluency seems to preclude digital literacy.

What are the essential elements of digital learning or digital literacy?

Based on the aforementioned definition of digital literacy, there are numerous essential elements contained therein.  To start with, an important element is the ability to use technology to “locate, evaluate, use, and create information”.  Another element is the ability to understand and use that information in different ways.  The final element is the ability to then perform tasks using that technology and that information.

What do you think you already know how to do very well when it comes to digital literacy?

Due to classes that I have taken in both high-school and college, I have become rather adept at locating information and relatively good at evaluating the authenticity of that information.  Adding to that, I am continuously learning new ways of presenting that information to different audiences.

What do you want to learn?

I want to learn to become even more adept at utilizing different tools and strategies in order to present the information to different audiences.  Particularly, I am interested in finding different tools for differentiating that information within a classroom setting to support varying student needs.

What do you expect to learn?

Through the course of this class, I expect to learn from both the instructor and my classmates in a collaborative, brain-storming sort of way through blogging and Twitter, how others are meeting the goal of what I want to learn.  Thusly, I anticipate building a community of educators with whom I can cooperate and learn from so that not only is this goal met, but that it also continues to be met as technology and information continue to grow and change.

What do we need to do in order to become effective digital learners and leaders?

What we need to do in order to become effective digital learners and leaders is to be adaptable.  While there are definitely other requirements that need to be met, this one seems the most important to me.  If one ails to be adaptable, then they will be unprepared to learn about and use the different technologies and information that will inevitably become available.  Definitively, as a leader it is important that we adapt our skills and our resources so that they are the most up-to-date and useful for the people we are attempting to lead.  For example, with the advent of online news, it is important that we teach our students how to recognize the difference between authentic articles and inauthentic ones.  As digital learners, we need to continuously keep abreast of the ever-changing climate of both tools and information.  If we do not, we will inevitably fall behind and our skills will become obsolete.




2 thoughts on “Breaking Down Digital Literacy to Build Understanding

  1. Amanda,
    I am with you. I too want to learn how to better utilize different pieces of technology and then be able to display information to a variety of audiences. I think it is good to be flexible and have a variety of resources that you can use, because one may not work the way you want it to while another one would be perfect. Like using Excel for math rather than Word. Or even using different types of technology like different kinds of phones. There is quite a bit out there for us to learn and use to our benefit which we can then share with and teach to those around us.


    1. There are so many adaptive technologies out there to improve a student’s educational life, but teachers either don’t know where to look, don’t know how to use it, or can’t for whatever reason. It is out duty to make sure that we are equipped to handle student needs and being familiar with technology and technological advancements directly pertains to such a duty.


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