Digital literacy is the ability to effectively and critically navigate, evaluate and create information using a range of digital technologies. It requires one “to recognize and use that power, to manipulate and transform digital media, to distribute pervasively, and to easily adapt them to new forms”. Digital literacy does not replace traditional forms of literacy, it builds upon the foundation of traditional forms of literacy. Digital literacy is the marrying of the two terms digital and literacy, however, it is much more than a combination of the two terms. Digital information is a symbolic representation of data, and literacy refers to the ability to read for knowledge, write coherently, and think critically about the written word.
Research around digital literacy is concerned with wider aspects associated with learning how to effectively find, use, summarize, evaluate, create, and communicate information while using digital technologies; not just being literate at using a computer.
Digital literacy encompasses all digital devices, such as computer hardware, software, the Internet, and cell phones. A person using these skills to interact with society may be called a digital citizen.
Given this definition, doesn’t this sound like something libraries should definitely be involved with? I think it does—I believe public libraries should strive to assist the public to become more knowledgeable and adept with the skills needed to interact with society.
The Digital Literacy portal is an initiative of the Obama Administration to serve as a valuable resource to practitioners who are delivering digital literacy training and services in their communities. As more and more jobs and educational offerings are available online, the ability to navigate the Internet is critical to participate more fully in the economy. Jumpstarted by a federal interagency working group dedicated to spurring the advancement of digital literacy across all age groups and stages of learning, the Digital Literacy portal organizes content conveniently, enables valuable discussion and collaboration among users and elevates best practices to improve the quality of digital literacy offerings. We invite users to share their content and their ideas to make the portal more robust and to fulfill its role as a destination for practitioners devoted to enhancing digital opportunity for all Americans.
Not surprisingly, the IMLS is one of the working group members.
So, please do take a look. I think you’ll find it useful.