We should know how to navigate the digital world, right? After all, adults reportedly spend up to five hours per day on mobile devices and the majority of us use technology in both our professional and personal lives. While we might be accustomed to computers and devices, that doesn’t automatically mean we are digitally literate. A lot of us aren’t even sure what digital literacy means.
This post will walk you through the definition of digital literacy, help you understand its multi-layered meaning, and suggest ways to bridge the digital literacy gap many organizations face today.
The Problem With The Digital Literacy Gap
The Digital Literacy Gap: With hybrid-remote work on the rise, technology is going to be a crucial factor in keeping employees engaged and organizations running. Businesses realize this, and one recent study estimates the digital workplace transformation market will reach $18.06 billion this year. While organizations everywhere are investing money into the digital workplace, many of them are neglecting the skills and training necessary for building a digitally literate workforce.
- According to MIT research, 70 percent of employees expect their organizations to help them develop digital literacy skills, but only 42 percent believe this is happening.
- A European Commission study found that 88 percent of organizations have not taken any action to help improve the digital skills of their employees.
The numbers make it clear that organizations everywhere need to prioritize digital literacy training and help their learners move forward with confidence and skill. The first step to becoming digitally literate, however, is understanding what digital literacy means.
Defining Digital Literacy: Are You Digitally Literate?
What Does Digital Literacy Mean? Most of us already use technology, such as tablets, smartphones, and computers, but this doesn’t mean we are digitally literate. While being able to navigate the web is important, digital know-how is only one element of true digital literacy. Here are the three main components of digital literacy, paired with some key questions you should ask yourself moving forward:
- Critical Thinking Skills: Are you able to determine how authentic, valid, and useful a piece of digital information is? Can you separate the “fake news” from the real news? Being able to sift through information, research effectively and select the most useful data is a key part of being digitally literate.
- Social Skills: Can you seamlessly communicate and collaborate with others in the digital workspace? Are you able to respectively express your thoughts, feelings, and insights using digital platforms and tools? A digitally literate person can communicate their ideas with others using technology.
- Digital Know-How: Are you able to use digital tools to create, access, use, and share digital information? Some examples of digital know-how include using your phone to check emails, creating a social media profile, and mastering the use of apps.
While it might seem impossible to become an expert in all of these areas, it’s important to remember that digital literacy doesn’t look the same for everybody, and expectations around tech-use change depending on where you work and what you do.
How To Bridge The Digital Literacy Gap
One Size Does Not Fit All: Concerning digital literacy training, it’s important not to make any assumptions about people’s skill levels or knowledge. While younger generations like Millennials and Gen Z have typically grown up with tech, it does not mean they know why it matters and what they can do to make the most out of it.
Before an organization offers training or support, they must first identify what learners know and what they need to learn. These assessments can be made through surveys, digital quizzes, or opinion polls. When offering a quiz to learners, consider including these three digital literacy topics:
- Cybersecurity: Make sure learners know about spam, security risks, and hacking dangers. This will keep your organization safe and protect valuable work.
- Digital collaboration: It’s important that learners not only know how to create different social media profiles but can also use them to collaborate across departments and spread the mission of your organization to the world.
- Digital Ethics: We all know that ethics are important in the office, but they are perhaps even more important online. Make sure your learners know about data privacy, sharing regulations, and the public nature of the internet.
Define Your Objectives: If you’re looking to build your digital skill set, you need to know what you are using technology for and if there are ways to use it more efficiently. Not everyone needs to know how to code to succeed at their job, but perhaps that’s an important element of your position. Whether it’s learning how to create a podcast or make an Instagram account, defining your objectives will put you on the right track to reaching your digital literacy goals.
Digital Literacy is For Everyone
No matter your age, background, or career goals, digital literacy is something everyone can benefit from. While it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the world of tech, the right content development strategies can help you gain confidence in your digital literacy skills, and create meaningful connections on the web.
What kind of digital skills are needed for your organization? What areas of digital literacy do you feel you need the most help in? Share your thoughts, feelings, and goals with us here at WeLearn, because together, we learn.