Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Week 1: What is Digital Literacy?

According to the Microsoft Corporation, Digital Literacy is to have a fundamental understanding of computers “from using the Internet, to sending e-mail, to creating a résumé.” In this sense –and since this company is the creator of Windows–, Microsoft offers a Digital Literacy Curriculum to help anyone develop the essential skills one needs to begin computing with confidence.

According to Wikipedia, Digital Literacy is “the ability to locate, organize, understand, evaluate, and create information using digital technology.” In this sense, digitally literate people –also called digital citizens– know how to use computer hardware and computer software, the Internet and its web tools, cell phones and other digital devices to communicate and work more efficiently with those who possess the same knowledge and skills.

Web tools are all tools available on the net; they can be Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 tools. I will deepen on their definition on Week 3. Social networks are Web 2.0 tools that focus on “building online communities of people who share interests and activities, or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others.” Such is the case of facebook or of blogger, for instance.

In education, schools in developed countries, as well as in some developing countries, are continually updating their curriculum for digital literacy to keep up with accelerating technological developments. This often includes computers in the classroom, the use of educational software to teach curriculum, and course materials available to students online. Teachers often teach digital literacy skills to students who use computers for research, which include how to quote from Web sites and to verify reliable sources; this way they could prevent plagiarism among students.

In the workforce, digital citizens have more opportunities to be hired and promoted because nowadays many jobs require knowledge of computers, the Internet and portable devices, such as cell phones, to perform basic functions. That is why; many of these jobs require proof of digital literacy. Sometimes companies will administer their own tests to employees, or official certification will be required. There are also official certifications in digital literacy, such as the International Computer Driving License. However, certification curricula often change as technology advances, making it necessary for many to re-certify to remain competitive.


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