What is digital literacy?

In my opinion,
digital literacy is the ability to navigate and use the digital tools and
search engines at our disposal.

An example would be to search for information in google. I could search for weather for the next week, using this information to make sure I’m dressed accordingly. The ability to search, find and use information online could be considered as digital literacy. In the digital age, people could be classified into 2 different categories, visitors and residents (https://youtu.be/sPOG3iThmRI). One could argue that the use of information without creating information would be the view of a visitor as opposed to being a resident. Residents would often create information for the consumption for other residents or visitors.

What are the challenges around digital literacy?

For those new to digital platforms and digital literacy, there is a big fear of the unknown. The fear of not being able to fit in with the rest of the crowd and also the fear of sounding silly when asking questions. Digital literacy, as the name describes is another form of literacy, based entirely on literacy. One could say that literacy is a building block of digital literacy. Anyone lacking the skills of basic literacy would naturally struggle with digital literacy.

As learners, it is important to be digitally literate. Many universities and educational institutions give students email addresses where assignments and other important course content would be made available. Students who are not digitally literate wouldn’t have the ability to open these emails and access all the different content required to become successful in their courses. The digital literacy requirement may range from very basic, such as the ability to access an email, clicking a link to access readable content to becoming more complex. These complexities may include the need to find information from different sources, collating this information and validating the authenticity and trustworthiness of these different sources by viewing their online certificates along with the authors of this information. We are quickly moving into an age where digital literacy is a requirement in nearly every field of work. Children are becoming digitally literate at a young age with frequent exposure to smart TV’s, smart devices and quickly developing the ability to navigate these different digital platforms.

A reflection of my
digital history has shown me tremendous growth in my own digital literacy. A
few years back I would check emails once a month. This has changed drastically,
the checking of emails has become a daily necessity, something that needs to be
checked at least once every hour. My social media presence has declined
slightly, I have a Facebook account which I rarely update. I use the platform
for checking messages and viewing posts. I don’t actively update and prefer to
use the platform for information gain or consumption as opposed to producing
content for the consumption of others. Nowadays I’m more focused in using
social media and web platforms for professional reasons. I’ve used online
platforms to search for information mainly around my field of study. The
ability to navigate websites, be literate along with being digitally literate
has been vital for the research.

I do have a digital
footprint, I’ve searched my name in google and found an article and picture of
myself from 2015. This was quite an interesting find. I thought the website
wouldn’t be live, here’s a link if you’re interested in giving it a read: https://imbm.co.za/researchers/masters/shanice-adams/

In my journey thus
far, my personal and professional lives have been intertwined. I can’t say that
I have managed to keep them separate, they are both part of my online identity.

ONL has placed me in the position to explore my footprint and has made me critically think about my evolution in the digital age. When thinking about online collaboration, one core issue immediately comes to mind, participants should be able to see notes and thoughts by participants in real time. Google docs and sheets provide this functionality. These are definitely tools which can be used to address this concern. In our topic around the facilitation of an online course, I feel that it is really important for all participants to have access to all information discussed, along with previous iterations of previous groups to make sure that a point of reference is available.

In conclusion, showing participants “the unknown” and giving them an example, showing them the work of previous groups makes the experience less intimidating. Giving students a view showing them the achievability of the ONL. The only way to become comfortable is by taking the leap and the time to explore the unknown. That is the purpose of ONL, taking the leap in a group setting and exploring as a team. Asking questions no matter how silly they may sound. Learning together, exploring together and progressing together.

Thoughts around digital literacy.