Literacy in the digital world

When I think of digital or media literacy, I agree with Common Sense media’s definition that “media literacy is the ability to identify different types of media and understand the messages they’re sending.” It is a life skill to be able to question a source and ask a variety of questions such as:
-Who created the vlog/article/video etc?
-Who is the intended audience?
-What biases exist?
-What ideas are being ignored?
-What does the author want us to think after consuming their content?

Ensuring kids (and adults!) do not just take an authors “word for it” is key to learning.  I always suggest to my students to find a few resources that generally believe the same thing, and that it never hurts to read the flip side of an argument.  With the amount of content being created each day, this is not fool-proof, but it is a good start in building literacy skills.  Digital literacy has to be more than the ability to use technology, we more so need members of society who can critique, analyze, evaluate, and create new content.  The earlier children are introduced to digital literacy, even if it starts at a “learn to use” stage, the better.  It is unrealistic for the education system not to prepare children for the world that they live in. As most things in life, balance is key, but technology, digital learning, media literacy etc cannot be ignored or swept under the rug.

When Dr Curous posted the question this week “what makes someone fully literate?” my immediate thought is that no one is fully literate, ourselves included.  Learning is life long experience with no conclusion.  And digital literacy has proven to add a new element to literacy.

“There is no end to education.  It is not that you read a
book, pass an examination, and finish education.

The whole of life, from the moment you are born to
the moment you die is a process of learning.”

-J. Krishnamuiti

While I certainly agree with Dani’s summary of the different types of literacy, the adult educator in me wants to see continual learning opportunity for professionals, and society in general.  This could be in their world place or in community resource centres.  As an educator, I always try to convey to my students that I am continually learning as well.  Whether it is a new topic, a new skill, or keeping up to date on the research in student success theories.  Yes I have a undergraduate degree and 90% of a masters degree (sooo close!) but even then, my learning will not stop.  It will change forms to nonformal and informal learning, oppose to the formal model that often gets most of the credit, but learning will still occur.   I try to model to the the student’s the importance of not solely focusing on that next exam or project (although this is important too), but thinking about the ways you can use what you are learning today or in your future.  Literacy is the same.  This is a continue process and I know throughout the many (many!) years I have left before I retire, there is likely to be a shift again in the definition of literacy.  I just hope I am open to the idea of keeping up!

I look forward to building on the idea of digital literacy and fake news for this weeks class!



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