This feature first appeared in the Fall 2023 issue of Certification Magazine. Click here to get your own print or digital copy.
Digital literacy has become as essential as reading, writing, and arithmetic. As our world becomes increasingly computerized, the ability to navigate technology and the internet is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. It's hard to overstate the importance of promoting digital literacy learning, the need for quality curriculum, and the significance of the impact of teaching digital skills.
Digital literacy is the ability to use computer technology, communication tools, or networks to locate, evaluate, use, and create information. Being digitally literate means having a working understanding of current technology and an ability to use it confidently and effectively. Digital literacy is not just about understanding how a tool works, but also why it works and how it can be used to foster innovation, communication, and collaboration.
No matter the job role, the global workplace increasingly revolves around technology. The need for digital literacy to become second nature to the next generation of workers is more pressing than ever. Those who lack digital literacy skills are at a disadvantage in nearly every aspect of life, from job hunting to accessing essential services, to participating in their communities.
It is crucial for society to promote digital literacy learning to ensure equal opportunities for all. Let's look at five key outcomes of fostering increased digital literacy among digitally disadvantaged individuals.
1: Digital literacy fosters better communication
Digital literacy allows individuals to communicate and collaborate with others in a variety of ways. This includes e-mail, social media, online forums, and collaborative digital platforms. Being digitally literate means being able to effectively convey and receive messages in these formats.
In our increasingly connected world, being able to communicate through digital means is essential. It allows for quick and efficient exchange of ideas and information. It also opens opportunities for global collaboration, as digital platforms can connect individuals from all over the world.
2: Digital literacy improves access to information
Digital literacy means being able to find, evaluate, and use information effectively. This includes knowing how to use search engines, databases, and other digital tools to access information. Given the vast amount of information available online, being able to navigate and use this information effectively is crucial. Digital literacy skills can help individuals to find reliable and relevant information, and to use this information to make informed decisions.
3: Digital literacy enhances career opportunities
Many jobs now require at least basic digital literacy skills, such as being able to use word processing software, e-mail, and digital file systems. More advanced skills, like understanding how to use digital marketing tools or data analysis software, can open up even more career opportunities.
As technology continues to evolve, the demand for digital literacy skills in the workplace will only increase. Individuals who are digitally literate will have a wider range of job opportunities available to them and will be better equipped to adapt to new technologies as they emerge. There are very few jobs today that do not require some level of digital skills.
4: Digital literacy promotes digital citizenship
Digital literacy includes understanding the norms and rules of appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use. This includes understanding issues related to privacy, security, and ethics. As more of our lives move online, it's important to understand how to behave responsibly and ethically in digital spaces. This includes understanding how to protect one's own privacy and the privacy of others, and how to evaluate the credibility of online information.
5: Digital literacy encourages lifelong learning
Digital literacy supports lifelong learning by providing individuals with the tools they need to learn new skills and acquire new knowledge. This includes understanding how to use digital learning platforms and resources. Lifelong learning is increasingly important in our rapidly changing world. Digital literacy skills can help individuals to keep up with these changes by providing them with the tools they need to continually learn and adapt.
The best digital literacy learning solution
Quality curriculum plays a pivotal role in promoting digital literacy. It provides a structured and comprehensive framework for learning, ensuring that learners acquire the necessary skills and knowledge in a systematic and coherent way. A quality curriculum is learner-centered, outcome-based, and relevant to the needs of the digital age.
TestOut Digital Literacy Pro is an exemplary model of a quality curriculum designed to equip learners with essential digital literacy skills. It provides comprehensive, interactive, and engaging content that caters to diverse learning styles. The curriculum covers a wide range of topics, from basic computer operations and software applications to internet safety and digital ethics, preparing learners for the digital world.
When Digital Literacy Pro was created, the intent was to take a beginning learner with very little foundational knowledge and propel them toward a computerized future with the knowledge and skills to be able to navigate a digital world. TestOut Digital Litearcy Pro covers such topics as:
Computer Basics: This includes understanding computer hardware, software, and operating systems. It's crucial for any job that involves using a computer, from data entry to software development.
Internet and Web: This covers how to use browsers, search engines, and e-mail. These skills are essential for research, communication, and data management in virtually all professions.
Productivity Programs: This includes word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and databases. These are key tools for administrative tasks, data analysis, and presentations in many fields.
Computer Security and Privacy: This includes understanding threats like malware and phishing, and how to protect against them. In an era of increasing cyberthreats, these skills are valuable in any job.
Digital Lifestyles: This covers digital media, social media, and virtual collaboration tools. These skills are increasingly important in marketing, communication, and remote work environments.
Information Literacy: This includes understanding how to find, evaluate, and use information effectively. These skills are crucial in roles that involve research or data-driven decision-making.
In the real world, these concepts translate into essential job skills. For example, understanding computer basics allows employees to troubleshoot basic technical issues, improving productivity. Mastery of productivity programs enables efficient data management and professional presentations.
Knowledge of computer security and privacy helps individual workers protect employer data, a crucial aspect of IT compliance. Digital lifestyle skills help promote effective use of social media for marketing and virtual tools for remote collaboration. Information literacy skills form the basis for research roles and data-driven professions.
ISTE Seal (of approval)
You don't just have to just take my word for it — or anyone else's — that Digital Literacy Pro is a top-tier learning solution. One of the most significant accolades for any online learning curriculum is the ISTE Seal. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) is a globally recognized authority in education technology standards.
The ISTE Seal is awarded to IT education resources that align with ISTE Standards, a framework for rethinking education and empowering learners in the digital age. As Richard Culatta, CEO of ISTE, aptly put it, "We must ensure that all students are not just consumers of digital content, but creators of digital content."
Earlier this year, TestOut Digital Literacy Pro was awarded the ISTE Seal, a testament to its quality and effectiveness. This means that the Digital Literacy Pro meets rigorous standards and has been recognized for its potential to improve teaching and learning. The ISTE Seal signifies that TestOut Digital Literacy Pro is not just a tool for teaching digital literacy, but a tool for transforming learning and empowering learners.
For teachers, the ISTE Seal is a valuable guide to choosing curriculum. It provides assurance that a given learning solution aligns with globally recognized standards and is designed to prepare students for success in the digital age. Teachers looking for the ISTE Seal of Approval can be confident that they are choosing a curriculum that is relevant, effective, and forward-thinking.
Promoting digital literacy learning is a societal imperative in the digital age. An educational resource like Digital Literacy Pro is crucial to equipping learners with the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in the modern workforce.
The ISTE Seal is a testament to both quality and effectiveness in learning resources, a valuable guide for teachers in choosing those resources. As we navigate an increasingly digital economy that demands digitally fluent workers, educators must commit to promoting digital literacy and ensuring quality education for all.
All stakeholders in society have a part to play in encouraging and enabling individuals to develop digital literacy skills. Government, educational, and business leaders, should emphasize these skills to the same extent as other foundational learning skills. It is our responsibility, in our various roles, to promote and ensure that all members of society have the skills to succeed in today’s digital world.