I’m keenly interested in the topic of Digital Literacy as it seems to overlap so much of my professional practice. One observation I’ve had is that while a lot has been written to define digital literacies and the need to develop them – there seems to be a lack of constructive information about how they are actually developed. What do we teach and need to learn to develop these digital literacies? In essence – how we become “digital literate”?
I keep coming back to traditional literacy (the reading and writing variety) – as something that has a history, established tools and theory, even proven success – and it’s lead me to a lot of questions, but not a lot of answers:
- If we use the example of traditional literacy, reading/writing, it is inseparably paired with language – so what accompanies digital literacy? Code? Markup? Programming Logic?
- What are the equivalents of Grammar, Vocabulary, Text and Visual knowledge? Have these even been defined?
- If we want to teach digital literacy how do we go about it? Where do you start? What’s the foundational equivalent of an alphabet or dictionary or the kind of kindergarten level “learn to read” resources?
I agree with the established idea that to gain literacy it must come through practice and experience – but I’m actually curious about what are the fundamental things that people should be doing in this space?
After at least a decade of mainstream use of digital technologies I’d posit that most people (regardless of age or field) are functionally illiterate, and that current practice tends to focuses only on memorising processes and applications – rather than learning the mechanics, the transferable knowledge and skills that effectively allow one to become literate. In an educational sense we are stuck at the bottom of Bloom’s Taxonomy and show little indication of being able to move up. In a world that is becoming increasingly digital this is an extremely dangerous place to be in, but might actually explain some of the apathy to recent events worldwide and locally around security, privacy and infrastructure of and for the web. If at the same time we are seeking to engrain digital literacy as part of the education system – are we addressing the actual components of literacy or just providing the knowledge/skills to make them purely “functional” in todays society? I’d even go as far as to ask – in some of our practices are we actually complicit in developing an aliteracy or at least an ennui towards digital technology?
I’m greatly interested in the work that Doug Belshaw is doing around Web Literacy (a subsection of the broader Digital Literacies) in actually attempting to map out some of these intricacies. I would love to know if anyone else us doing anything similar – or if you have some ideas on how to answer any of my questions!