Digital Literacy

Digital Literacy

graphic for digital literacy

Digital literacy is the updated version of information literacy.  Around the turn of the century, information literacy skills included how to turn on a computer, save a file, open a program, as well as finding information and using it to support research.  With the creation of smartphones, social media, and mobile everything, these have morphed into digital literacy skills.

Whereas in the past, we were consumers of information, technology allows us to all be creators of content, sharing our creations with just a few select individuals or the world.  We increasingly consume information in sound bytes, through media, sound clips and infographics. Creating these pieces of content to convey our message is not an easy thing to do.  It takes information literacy skills, pared with critical thinking, written communication and media creation skills to create content that can be accessible and meaningful to our audiences.

It’s no wonder then that the National Associate of Colleges and Employers’ (NACE) Job Outlook 2018 survey respondents rated Digital Technology as 6th in a list of essential career readiness competencies and 2nd on their list of graduate readiness (NACE, 2018).

Additionally, Ventimiglia & Pullman state that “Students can be more successful after graduation if they are digitally literate—having learned how to identify and create digital solutions, adapt to new tools, and discover more effective and efficient ways of doing things in their fields” (2016).

And 5th on EDUCAUSE’s 2018 Key Issues in Teaching & Learning list is digital and information literacies.

So how do we teach our students digital literacy when we as professors and teachers are not literate ourselves?

We focus on faculty development that maps how we can take existing assignments in our courses and turn them into digital assignments.  Instead of having the student write an essay about something they’ve researched, ask them to create an Adobe Spark page, or a digital story, or a video, or… The majority of students in our classes today have a smartphone with more  computing power than we had in our first PCs in the 1990s. Additionally, most phone cameras are capable of taking high-definition photos and recording quality video. They grew up with YouTube, Vine videos, Snapchat, and Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter; all hosting small consumable products on every topic imaginable.  We can leverage their comfort with this type of media and information to help them leap ahead with their digital literacy skills.

The end product?  They will be more competitive in the job market when they graduate and more agile in their careers.


2018 Key Issues in Teaching and Learning, EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative,

From Written to Digital : The New Literacy, Phillip Ventimiglia and George Pullman, March 7, 2016 EDUCAUSE Review.

Employers Rate Career Competencies, New Hire Proficiency, Job Outlook 2018 Survey, National Association of Colleges and Employers.

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