Digital Literacy and How to Ensure It – Part 1

Literacy also means to be fluent in a world of digital information and not only the ability to read and write. Digitally literate citizens can learn from the digital environment through the knowledge and skills to access, evaluate, manipulate, utilize, design and develop information.

As per a 2016 Stanford University study of nearly 8,000 secondary school and college students in 12 states, these skills are unlikely to develop on their own. Additionally, it also goes on to show that most students cannot distinguish between an advertisement and a news article or determine the source of the information. Several other pieces of research also show that a lack of digital literacy skills contributes to a “digital divide.” The elderly, people with lower incomes, the less-educated, people with disabilities, and the unemployed have less access to digital communications — and therefore less opportunity to build skills related to the technology.

Digital literacy competencies should be integrated into instruction at all levels and must become an everyday part of the learning experience of school children. Undertaking significant work, organizations such as P21.org provides information and media on the topic and it has laid out technology literacy skills and ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) has developed student standards that incorporate digital literacy to help students thrive in an ever-evolving technological world. Each of ISTE’s seven standards (empowered learner, digital citizen, knowledge constructor, innovative designer, computational thinker, creative communicator, and global collaborator) includes four indicators used in measuring achievement of the standards.

For students’ incremental digital literacy skills, P21 and ISTE have laid the groundwork. States should adopt PK-20 digital literacy standards and incorporate the required skills into the curriculum so that students graduate with the digital skills they need to enter the workforce.

The Association for College and Research Libraries (ACRL, a division of the American Library Association) has developed a framework for information literacy in higher education for postsecondary education. To help individuals and groups understand and implement the framework, ACRL has also developed a free information literacy toolkit. Based on the ACRL rubric and Degree Qualifications Profile from the Lumina Pathways project, Marshall University librarians have designed an original literacy assessment, with specific skill sets for associate, bachelor and graduate degrees.

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