The New Media Consortium (NMC) has released Digital Literacy: An NMC Horizon Project Strategic Brief in conjunction with the 2016 EDUCAUSE Annual Conference.
In analyzing the progress and gaps in this area, the NMC’s report has identified a need for higher education leaders and technology companies to prioritize students as makers, learning through the act of content creation rather than mere consumption. Additionally, the publication recommends that colleges and universities establish productive collaborations with industry, government, and libraries to provide students with access to the latest technologies and tools.
Based on the variety and complexity of these results, NMC cannot identify just one model of digital literacy. Instead three different digital literacies are now evident, each with distinct standards, potential curriculum, and implications for creative educators.
The aim of this publication is to establish a shared vision of digital literacy for higher education leaders by illuminating key definitions and models along with best practices and recommendations for implementing successful digital literacy initiatives.
To be digitally literate, you need to be:
fluent at critical thinking, collaborating,
being creative, and problem-solving in
Computer science and digital media classes can instruct on everything from office productivity applications to programming and video editing, for example. Sociology courses can teach interpersonal actions online, such as the ethics and politics of social network interaction, while psychology and business classes can focus on computer-mediated human interaction. Government and political science classes are clearly well equipped to explore the intersection of digital technology and citizenship mentioned above. Communication, writing, and literature classes have the capacity to instruct students on producing digital content in the form of stories, arguments, personal expression, posters, and more.
If faculty members aren’t asking students to create multimedia in their assignments and/or take part in online/digitally-based means of communications and learning, the vast majority of the students won’t (and don’t) care about digital literacy…it’s simply not relevant to them: “Whatever gets me the grade, that’s what I’ll do. But no more.”
This type of situation/perspective is quite costly. Because once students graduate from college, had they built up some solid digital literacy — especially the “creative literacy” mentioned above — they would be in much better shape to get solid jobs, and prosper at those jobs. They would be much better able to craft powerful communications — and reach a global audience in doing so. They would have honed their creativity, something increasingly important as the onward march of AI, robotics, algorithms, automation, and such continues to eat away at many types of jobs (that don’t really need creative people working in them).
This is an important topic, especially as digitally-based means of communication continue to grow in their usage and impact.
Part of digital literacy is not just understanding how a tool works but also why it is useful in the real world and when to use it.