Digital literacy (also known as computer literacy or information literacy) is the ability to use technology smartly and efficiently. It is one of the greatest skills for students and adults to learn in our technology-driven culture. Five main attributes make up digital literacy: research, problem-solving and critical thinking, communication, creativity, and digital citizenship. Let’s break down these ideas a little further:
If you’ve ever looked up something on Google (and let’s be honest, this is a daily thing for most of us) you are doing research. However, being digitally literate goes a little deeper. Does the article you are reading have an author? Do they use sources? Are they biased in their answers? Do they share evidence or just opinions? These are just a few of the questions that you could ask yourself when trying to find something on the internet. The type of research you do, and how well you do it, is one of the most important ways to find quality information.
Problem Solving and Critical Thinking
Someone with computer literacy skills is using the internet to solve a problem or come up with an answer. They are using their time and their searches wisely and are actually thinking about what they are finding. When it comes to critical thinking, you should be asking yourself if what you are finding is really answering your question, or is it just fluff?
Now that you have come up with some ideas and learned what you need from the web, how are you going to apply them? Being digitally literate means being able to effectively communicate what you have learned. As someone who is communicating ideas on the internet, you should show that you understand the topic you are talking about.
Another way you can apply the knowledge you have gained is through your creativity. This may be creating graphics, videos, podcasts, music, or anything in between. The way you use your creativity should be truthful and make sense to your audience.
This is probably the most important part of digital literacy. Showing that you are digitally literate means that you not only know how to find and use the information on the internet, but that you can do so in a respectful way. Each person who is on the web has a duty to be kind and understanding to other creators, authors, researchers, and internet users. You should be treating people just like you would if you were having a conversation in person.
Benefits of Digital Literacy
The benefits of becoming skilled in digital literacy are practically endless. By learning how to utilize the technology at your disposal, a whole world of information is opened up to you. You can meet new people, gain their knowledge, and in return, you can give right back to others by sharing your own knowledge in a creative way.
So how can you use these skills of digital literacy to your advantage? There are various digital literacy courses and training that can be found online and even possibly in your community. However, as with everything else, practice makes perfect. The best way to increase your abilities as a digitally literate individual is by practicing these skills. Taking the time to research, write, create, solve problems, and share with others using the internet will only make your abilities greater. By putting these five aspects of computer literacy into practice, you will become a more digitally literate individual and help make the internet a better place to search, learn from, and grow.