Proficiencies of Digital Literacy

Digital literacy can be given a wide variety of definitions, but how do we characterize it? What makes a student proficient in the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)?

In this post, I’d just like to share a resource that my research group found during our literature review on digital literacy.

The following excellent paper is a literature review conducted by Steve Covello who is now the media specialist at Granite State College. Covello was a Masters student at Syracuse University when he wrote the paper.

A Review of Digital Literacy Assessment Instruments by Steve Covello

The main item I’d like to point out in this reference are the proficiencies of digital (ICT) literacy that are based on the following report from the ETS:

Digital Transformation: A Framework for ICT Tools

First, the ETS report describes literacy in the following way:

To some “literacy” connotes functional literacy and implies basic or fundamental skills. To the panel, the term literacy implies a universal need, a condition that must be met to enable full and equitable economic and social participation. We view literacy as a tool that may be applied to simple or more complicated contexts — like a hammer that can be used to build a shelf, or a house. In its broadest sense, literacy is a dynamic tool that allows individuals to continuously learn and grow.

Later on, five components that reflect the wide range of skills that could be described as digital literacy:

  1. Access – knowing about and knowing how to collect and/or retrieve information.
  2. Manage – Applying an existing organizational or classification scheme.
  3. Integrate – interpreting and representing information. It involves summarizing, comparing and contrasting.
  4. Evaluate – making judgments about the quality, relevance, usefulness, or efficiency of information.
  5. Create – generating information by adapting, applying, designing, inventing, or authoring information.

For example, the ETS considers a scenario where you would like to find a variety of reliable online sources that provide treatment recommendations for a specific medical condition. Based on this scenario, the five components might be exhibited in the following ways:

  1. Access – Use a search engine to locate sites that have articles about the medical condition.
  2. Manage – Evaluate the sites and identify three that you would expect to provide reliable medical information.
  3. Integrate -Identify the treatment information in each article.
  4. Evaluate – Compare and contrast the treatment options suggested in the articles.
  5. Create – Develop a Word document with treatments listed (citing sources) to share with physician.

In our classes, a given problem or assignment might require some or even all of these proficiencies. In your classes, how do these five components appear in digital assignments? Could these be used to design resources or assignments that help grow digital literacy?


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