Digital Literacy and the Great Divide

—Martin (2005) proposes an expansive view of digital literacies as:

“the awareness, attitude and ability of individuals to appropriately use digital tools and facilities to identify, access, manage, integrate, evaluate, analyze and synthesize digital resources, construct new knowledge, create media expressions, and communicate with others, in the context of specific life situations, in order to enable constructive social action; and to reflect on this process.” (p. 135)

The three most important parts of this definition for me are, in order of importance:

1. attitude and ability

2. appropriately use

3. constructive (social action)

I have chosen these three because my understanding of digital literacy is based mostly around these concepts. I personally see attitude and ability as key because if you need to approach a task with the appropriate skills and mindset. ‘Appropriately use’ is important to me because misuse of technology could result in the task not being completed properly. I chose constructive social action because, in my opinion, if you are digitally literate then what you do should be useful or constructive, especially in a social context.

So which of us are digitally literate and which or us are not? Is it a generational thing or is it a skill to be learned?

In a previous blog post I mentioned how I didn’t consider myself to be part of this technology generation or as Prensky (2001) put it, the ‘digital natives’. There was no iPhone thrown into my cot to keep me quiet unlike nowadays when two year olds have constant access to their favourite cartoon. How could we possibly be in the same bracket as them?

I think that digital literacy is a skill and like any skill, there are multiple levels. We all know our parents, in general, aren’t considered as ‘digitally literate’ as us and we can all testify to this with our own stories about a parent sitting helplessly in front of the computer and asking for help for something we would consider straightforward. I truly believe though it’s not that they aren’t capable of developing the same skills as us, more so that most of them don’t really need to. We’ve had to learn these skills to keep up with our social lives and our education and if they were in the same position, they’d be able to do the same.

The Great Divide may not be so Great after all.


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