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Saturday, 2 March 2013

Digital Literacy, Web Literacy, Media Literacy, Information Literacy - or Just Plain LITERACY???

We are well-into our third topic of #etmooc.  We were asked to consider the following questions:

  • What does it mean to be digitally literate? 
  • What is the difference between being digital literate and web literate?
  • What digital competencies and skills do your learners demonstrate through their daily use of technology?
I can honestly say, that until this #etmooc, I never considered these questions before.  I thought of digital literacy as being equivalent to the ability to use Web 2.0 tools. But  I never even stopped to think what is meant by "Web 2.0 tools". 

So, today, I looked up "Web 2.0 tools" and my first hit brought me to Discovery Education which said "Web 2.0 is about revolutionary new ways of creating, collaborating, editing and sharing user-generated content online. It's also about ease of use." 

As I've pondered these questions this week, I became aware of how very little I have considered this topic in the past and how little I know about it.  

On Wikipedia, I found the following definition of digital literacy:

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".[1] Digital literacy does not replace traditional forms of literacy, it builds upon the foundation of traditional forms of literacy.[2] 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.

In our province, we report on four strands of Language - Oral, Reading, Writing and Media Literacy.

I'm not even sure what is meant by "Media Literacy".  Is that the same as "Digital Literacy?" It seems more encompassing than Digital Literacy.  In fact, isn't every form of communication a medium and therefore part of Media Literacy?  Or should we consider Media Literacy to refer to multi-media literacy?

You see, the more I think about it, the more questions I have and the more confused I get!

So, today I decided it doesn't matter.  

What is important is that I consider what it means to be LITERATE.  To me, being literate means being able to use expressive and receptive communication skills to collaborate, innovate, create, and participate with others.  Being literate means being able to think critically about incoming information and being able to synthesize that information.  It means being able to share ideas in a coherent way so as to be understood by others.

When I was a Girl Guide, (a long, long time ago), I had to learn how to use flag semaphore, (a way to communicate using flags) in order to earn certain badges.  I never understood why I needed to learn flag semaphore.  What good is knowing a form of communication if there is no one out there to communicate with using that particular medium?  I don't know how to speak Latin, and yet I still consider myself literate, but fifty years ago, I might not have been considered literate without a working knowledge of Latin.  Years ago, you had to be fluent in Morse code to be a pilot - that is not longer the case either. 

What it means to be literate changes with time.  As the world changes, and we develop new ways of communicating with one another, we must adopt these new methods to be currently literate.  What it means to be "literate" changes as our modes of communication change.  I believe that in this 21st Century, in order to be literate, we have to have a working knowledge of digital tools in order to communicate most effectively.  And that is what Digital Literacy means to me. 

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